Original piece by Ilana Belfer for The Canadian Jewish News on February 20th, 2020.
In some cases, parents are getting a jump on the system by enrolling their children in after-school programs because they feel their school doesn't offer enough financial literacy education or their kids are younger than the grades in which personal finance is taught.
Explorer Hop offers after-school programs and camps for kids as young as six. "We break it down to a level that even a six-year-old can understand where we say, when you're in a shop, ask yourself three questions: Do I need it? Will I use it? And will I enjoy it?" said Hasina Lookman. "By the time they get their phone, it's too late to teach them the value of money because they're already swiping, and they're already tapping at Starbucks."
Since participating in Explorer Hop programs, Max Herczeg, 11, has opened his own stock trading account and started a 3D printing business, which has earned him a few hundred dollars, despite that his Hebrew day school, Bialik, doesn't offer financial literacy.
A survey by Credit Canada found that one-in-three Canadians think that talking about money is taboo, and a Bank of Canada survey found that 27 per cent of Canadians had low levels of financial literacy while 36 per cent had medium low levels. Which means that even if parents wanted to teach it, and had time to do so, the majority would be unfit.
Lookman, of Explorer Hop, recalled working on Bay Street with graduates from top universities who were making $28,000 a year and spending $20 a day for lunch.
"This debt culture has to change. My daughter's generation has to deal with the global climate crisis. And I believe that... we have a fundamental responsibility to teach them the skills they need so they can appreciate the future they deserve," Lookman said. "Should the schools do more? Everybody should do more".