New National Steering Committee on Financial Literacy to Help Seniors First

Everyone could use a little more financial literacy, from basics like how to save to more complex concepts such as investing. But the new National Steering Committee on Financial Literacy has chosen seniors as their top priority for programs on financial literacy in Canada.

Why seniors were chosen as a priority group

While it’s true that most seniors have had lots of experience managing money, seniors also have to manage the complexities of planning for retirement income, debt, investments and budgeting for retirement. One or two incorrect calculations may leave them with a shortfall on cash, and this has been evidenced by the amount of seniors declaring bankruptcy. Bankruptcies by seniors are the fastest growing across all demographics, plus seniors themselves are a growth sector in the population. Additionally, seniors are increasingly bringing debt into retirement with them, something that wasn’t common until recent years.

Seniors are also a big target for fraud, both calculated fraud such as the type that you see in your email inbox or from a shady telemarketer and “friendly fraud”, which is financial abuse by a family member or friend. Friendly fraud tends to be underreported because seniors often don’t want the perpetrators to get into trouble with the law.

When you add the more complex needs of planning for retirement and potential fraud together, you have two very good reasons why seniors are at the top of the Committee’s list.

What the Committee is doing and other programs

The Committee has just been formed and has been tasked with implementing a national strategy on financial literacy, so programs are not yet in the development stage. However, the Financial Literacy Leader, Jane Rooney, talked about a program that the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC) is piloting with the Canadian Banker’s Association to teach seniors about budgeting and fraud. Called Your Money Seniors, the program will see volunteer bankers go right into homes and to local nonprofits to give seniors a better understanding of both of these key issues. Seminars will begin in fall of 2014 and if you’re interested in hearing more, you can sign up for more information on the Canadian Banker’s Association website.

Once the national strategy has been developed, it will hopefully drive creation of similar programs on a widespread national scale.

Taking control of your finances now

For most of us, personal finance was something we may have gotten a few hours of education on in a home economics class in elementary school, and the school of life has taught us the rest. While the Internet can give you lots of information on this valuable topic, there is a lot of chaff to sort through to get to the wheat. Books are probably your best option to start. Here is a short list:

Debt Free Forever
By Gail Vaz-Oxlade

Your Money: The Missing Manual
By J.D. Roth

Earn, Spend, Save
By Kira Vermond

Smart Couples Finish Rich
By David Bach