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"No matter how busy you may think you are, you must find time for reading, or surrender yourself to self-chosen ignorance."


New Program Making Dollars and $ense

There is a lot of buzz about financial literacy these days, heightened by the current global economy and financial meltdowns of the past year. The term financial literacy covers many different things, including understanding how to navigate financial services and plan for retirement. Like regular literacy, financial literacy is required on an everyday basis to help people make better decisions throughout their lives, and it is key to self-sufficiency and participation in the economic mainstream.

There has been a dramatic realization that many people lack money knowledge and do not have the capacity to manage savings and debt. A 2008 Bank of Montreal survey found that 7 in 10 Canadians did not have a budget and that 80% of the survey respondents did not feel that the current economic downturn was enough incentive to create one.

The need for action becomes more apparent when the above survey is coupled with a 2007 report published by the Toronto-Dominion Bank. It contends that Canada is losing billions of dollars to poor literacy and numeracy among youth and adults. The 2003 International Adult Survey echoes these findings, reporting a 50% rate of poor numeracy skills amongst Canadian adults.

In response to this need, the Centre for Family Literacy, with funding from the Alberta Government, has developed four levels of financial literacy courses for adults over 18. These courses, called “Dollars and Sense,” will cover basic math and money, spending and saving, budgeting, using bank services including computer banking, and credit and debt. These classes are being offered this fall and are open to the public as well as to the Centre’s participants. The Centre is also embedding more numeracy in its family literacy programming and is seeking opportunities to further develop and deliver a new program called “ABC-123.”

At the Centre, our goal is to improve literacy levels in Alberta. One strategy is to offer adults instruction in the full range of literacy skills that they desire and need to function in today’s society, and reach their personal, educational, and career goals.

Consumer credit-card debt in Canada totals $80 billion, a 40% increase from 2004.
Deloitte, February 2009

A financially literate person is someone who understands the basics of money management, knows when they need financial advice and where to get it, and is able to make informed financial decisions with confidence.

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