Money: Financial Literacy Helps Keep Finances and Relationships Healthy

Finances can be a major strain on any relationship – personal as well as business relationships. Financial literacy can ease that pressure.

Studies have shown that financial stress can lead to personal and family stress, including depression, marital discord and family breakup.

Other studies have found that Canadian families are carrying record levels of debt, much of it incurred for daily purchases, and also for luxury items—wants, rather than needs. A key reason for increasing levels of debt and conflict over finances is a lack of financial literacy—understanding the basic products and services offered by banks and other financial institutions, and having the skills of managing expenses, making a budget, and saving. Fundamental financial knowledge and basic skills are important for those who are new to Canada, and Canadians of all ages and stages of life.

“Financial literacy training is a needed service for immigrants, regardless of age,” says Florence Brake, who immigrated to Canada from Kenya. Florence took courses in managing personal finances, and now volunteers to deliver Financial Basics to community groups. The first time she gave the course to a church group, 10 people signed up in advance, but 22 showed up.

“Immigrants to Canada often come from countries where marketing is not as prevalent and credit is not easily accessible,” she says. “When they arrive here, they are bombarded with messages telling them the things they need, and credit arrives in the mail—all they have to do is call to activate a credit card. One lady told me ‘I have all this free money and now I can use it!’ They don’t always realize that once you use the card, you have to pay for it. And many do not understand the effect of compound interest—I did not, myself, until I took the training.”

Financial Basics was developed by FCAC and the Investor Education Fund in collaboration with financial author and journalist Ellen Roseman. An engaging, hands-on workshop, it uses clear language to teach consumers how to make a budget, manage expenses, understand credit and debt management, protect themselves from fraud and save for the future.

"Newcomers to Canada may find this workshop helpful if they are looking to learn about the basics of the Canadian financial system - how to open a bank account, apply for loans, credit cards and other financial services. A clear understanding of the fundamentals of financial products is vital to help them avoid costly mistakes,” says Ursula Menke, Commissioner of the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC). FCAC is an independent federal government body that provides free and objective information about financial products and services to help Canadians increase their financial knowledge and confidence in managing their personal finances.

Learning new financial skills
Financial Basics was designed to be used by postsecondary educational institutions, by community organizations and in the workplace to increase participants’ financial knowledge and encourage sound money management practices.

The program comes with a presenter’s manual, participants’ handbooks, presentation slides, workshop evaluation forms and promotional materials. All these materials are available from FCAC at no cost. To order the Financial Basics workshop materials or to get more information, visit fcac.gc.ca.

Through its financial literacy program, FCAC helps Canadians increase their financial knowledge and confidence in managing their personal finances.

Knowledge leads to relationship harmony
Financial stress often results when two sides in a relationship do not agree over priorities, wants and needs. By teaching crucial money management skills and explaining the basics of financial products and services, the Financial Basics workshop’s objective is to help consumers gain confidence and knowledge in money matters and therefore reduce financial stress—and maybe, ultimately, relationship stress.