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Breaking the silence on senior financial abuse
by FCNB on 


Breaking the silence on senior financial abuse

A daughter called distraught.

Her mother, who had suffered from Alzheimer’s Disease, recently passed away. Adding to her grief was the discovery she had made while cleaning out her mother’s room in the family home
Her mother’s jewelry box contained tiny notes her father had written and attached to each piece of jewelry to remind his wife of their sentimental value.

“This is your engagement ring.”

“This is your wedding ring.”

“I gave you this necklace on the birth of our first child.”

“I gave you this ring on our 25th wedding anniversary.”

The box contained about a dozen of these tiny notes. But not one piece of jewelry was found in the box. It had all been stolen.

It’s not a far stretch to think a person who could steal these precious possessions may also withhold an elderly woman’s pension cheque or use her credit card for their own purpose. Or maybe fill up their vehicle’s gas tank using a senior’s debit card, or pocket that $10 laying on his nightstand.

Senior financial abuse is the misuse of an older person’s money or property by coercion or other means, often by adult children, relatives, family friends, caregivers or a person in a position of trust.
 It can also include:

  • Misusing a power of attorney document to take money out of the owner’s account without their knowledge to pay for an item that in no way benefits the owner.
  • Cashing in investments without permission.
  • Pressuring a person to sign documents that they don't have the capacity to understand.
  • Coercing, forcing or deceiving a person into lending money or selling their home.
  • Coercing or tricking a person to sell their assets for much less than they are worth.
  • Tricking a person to purchasing unsuitable financial and consumer products.
  • Pressuring a person into providing food, shelter, housekeeping or childcare without payment.
  • Forcing someone to change the beneficiary in a will.

It’s happening more than we want to think, and more than we know.
As part of our enforcement work, we routinely hear devastating accounts of seniors who’ve been financially exploited. These stories are far too common, and we anticipate they could multiply with the province’s aging population.

Seniors now make up 19.9 per cent of New Brunswick’s population – the highest percentage in the country. By 2038, it’s expected to grow to 31 per cent.

So we are living longer, but here’s the kicker: research shows many of us will likely develop a chronic health condition, including dementia. According to the Alzheimer Society, 564,000 Canadians are living with dementia today. In 15 years, 937,000 Canadians will be living the disease. Every year, 25,000 new cases are diagnosed. 

Yet, we don’t have any definitive numbers to determine the true impact of financial abuse of seniors in Canada. In fact, it’s called the “invisible crime of the 21st century” because of how frequently it goes unidentified and unreported. 

A 2018 provincial survey that FCNB conducted found 24 per cent of adults surveyed reported they personally know a senior who has or may have been a victim of financial abuse. However, 66 per cent of those who knew of or suspected financial abuse did not report it, citing a number of barriers that prevented them from doing so. In many cases, they reported not knowing where to turn or how to get help.

Adding to the challenge is that no legislated definition of financial abuse exists in New Brunswick. While the province has legislation that defines physical or sexual abuse, mental cruelty and neglect, there is no legislated definition of financial abuse.

Another challenge is that victims often resist reporting when a family member or caregiver is the perpetrator for fear of retaliation, loss of support, loss of independence, embarrassment and the perceived lack of other options for care.

Unfortunately, senior financial abuse thrives on silence. Perpetrators rely on the fact that their victims are unlikely to report them. But the consequences go well beyond the pocketbook. Being a victim of financial abuse can lead to social isolation, depression, anxiety and other negative health effects.

In fact, the U.S. Centre for Disease Control has called senior financial abuse a “health crisis.”

We need to break the silence. We need to put senior financial abuse on everyone’s radar and be proactive about preventing it in the first place.

At the Financial and Consumer Services Commission, we are working to spearhead change.

A year ago, we released 15 recommendations following extensive research and consultation across the province.

Our recommendations include:

  • Legislative changes around the definition of financial abuse and protections for those who report it.
  • Support for industry professionals who suspect clients may be victims of abuse.
  • Educational initiatives to raise awareness of financial abuse and how to deal with it.
  • Promoting inter-agency cooperation to combat the financial abuse of seniors and other vulnerable people.

Since then, we have been working toward fulfilling these recommendations. We have developed a multi-year senior outreach plan, which also supports our education and communications strategy in raising awareness of fraud and financial abuse of seniors and other vulnerable adults. We have delivered presentations to seniors and their caregivers in nursing homes, churches, community groups and Alzheimer Cafés, and launched a social media campaign on the importance of estate planning in protecting your financial assets. We have distributed some of our printed resources to Service New Brunswick Centres and Seniors Resource Centres across the province, and recently held an event for our regulated sectors, which included an expert panel discussion on senior financial abuse.

We continue to liaise with other regulators across Canada, and internationally on senior and vulnerable investor issues and ways we can work to protect older and vulnerable investors. And we have participated on international, national and provincial committees to advance the protection of seniors from financial abuse.

However, we all have a role to play.

We need to work together as a community to protect the seniors in our lives, and engage in a discussion about senior financial abuse and how we can combat it. Each of use needs to be on the lookout for signs of senior financial abuse, and reach out to a senior who may be isolated and vulnerable.

The challenges are great, but so is the urgency and the advantages of a co-ordinated effort. Lets all do our part to break the silence. 

Rick Hancox
CEO of New Brunswick’s Financial and Consumer Services Commission (FCNB)




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Informed Investor Advisory: Robo-Advisers
by FCNB on 


Are you an informed investor?

Investors are increasingly turning to robo-advisers to help them manage their portfolios. Easy-to-use smartphone apps and online portals make setting up an account with a robo-adviser convenient and quick, which is contributing to their increasing popularity. For those considering a robo-adviser, it is best to take it slow and ensure this type of service meets your short- and long-term investing needs.

What are Robo-Advisers?

The term “robo-adviser” refers to electronic platforms that provide automated investment advisory services to customers pursuant to computer algorithms developed by the platform sponsors.

Robo-advisers thus in effect replace the roles of financial services professionals with computer algorithms. In so doing, robo-advisers may be able to offer useful services at comparatively low cost.

Robo-advisers may be discretionary or non-discretionary – i.e., a customer may allow the platform to execute trades automatically on the customer’s behalf or may withhold trading authority and use the platform’s advice as a mere recommendation for the customer’s own investment decisions.

How do Robo-Advisers Work?

There are two general robo-advisory models: pure and hybrid robo-advisers. The pure model is entirely automated and offers little (or no) ability for customers to receive personalized investment advice from a financial services professional.

In a pure robo-adviser, customers interact solely with the electronic platform. The hybrid model adds a level of human interaction to the robo-advisory platform, allowing customers to work with a financial services professional online or in person. Hybrid robo-advisers generally have higher fees than pure robo-advisers, but may provide greater portfolio customization, tailoring of advisory services, or personal comfort for their customers.

In the United States, robo-advisers can offer pure or hybrid services. In Canada, all robo-advisers operate under the hybrid model. In both models, the level of service provided, and portfolio-building methodology can vary widely. Always make sure that you are comfortable with the type of service and the robo-adviser that you’ve chosen before you invest.

Is Robo-Advising for Me?

Before getting started, shop around and research different robo-advisers’ investment product offerings and fee structures. Just because a friend or relative uses a certain service does not mean it is the right one for you. Robo-advisers use proprietary computer algorithms and software to build your portfolio based on how you answer a questionnaire or interview with a firm representative. Computer programs are unique and different programs can make very different investment and portfolio recommendations, even when presented with exactly the same investor profiles.

Things to Consider when Investing With a Robo-Adviser

Even though robo-advisers offer a service that allows you to take a more passive approach to investing, you should continue to monitor and adjust your portfolio according to your needs. Handing off your investments to a robo-adviser and putting them on autopilot may yield unexpected or undesirable results. It is also important in selecting a robo-adviser to consider the extent to which you will need personalized investment advice or interactions with a financial services professional.

Before you choose to use a robo-adviser, reflect on these questions:

  • Does the robo-adviser build a portfolio based on your financial goals while taking into account your appetite for risk? When you invest, you should always keep track of your investments and ensure your portfolio meets your long- and short-term needs.
  • Are you comfortable and familiar with the types of investment products the robo-adviser will use to build your portfolio? Research and understand the investment products the robo-adviser you are considering uses before you invest.
  • Do you like discussing ideas or asking questions when seeking financial advice? If so, be sure you understand the level of human interaction you will get with the robo-adviser you are planning to use.
  • Do you want the ability to make decisions based on market fluctuations? With robo-advisers, you may not have the ability to buy and sell securities in your account as the market moves up or down.
  • Are you considering any tax consequences that you may encounter for investment losses and/or gains? When investing, you should consider your yearly tax situation. You may want to talk to a tax consultant to better understand how using a robo-adviser may affect you.
  • Are you comfortable and familiar with the robo-adviser’s fee structure and compensation model? You should know how much you are paying for the robo-adviser’s services and how these costs will affect your returns over time.

How to Protect and Inform Yourself

  • Check Registration. Firms that provide advisory services in the U.S. are typically registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) or one or more state securities regulators. In Canada, robo-advisers must be registered with the securities regulators in the provinces it operates in. Check the SEC’s Investment Adviser Public Disclosure database or FINRA’s BrokerCheck. In Canada, use the National Registration Search.
  • Check Disciplinary History. Robo-adviser firms in the U.S. and Canada must comply with the laws of the jurisdiction they are operating in. Take a look at the firm you are considering to see if it has been subject to any disciplinary action.
  • Research the Company and its Management. Look at the background and experience of the firm’s leadership. Be sure you are comfortable with the people guiding the investment and business strategy of the firm you are considering. You also may find news on a variety of topics such as its overall business strategy, management interviews, operational matters, or customer complaints.
  • Read Online Customer Reviews. Online reviews will give you a sense of pros and cons of the service. You can get a feel for current or former clients’ satisfaction with the firm you are considering and the services it provides. Understand, however, that portfolio performance is unique to every individual.

The Bottom Line

Robo-advisers are relatively new to the investing landscape. As with any new service, you should thoroughly investigate to make sure they are right for your investment needs. Before making any financial decisions, ask questions and do your homework. For more information, contact your state or provincial regulator. Contact information is available on the NASAA website, here.

  



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Informed Investor Advisory: Cross-Selling
by FCNB on 



Are you an informed investor?

Cross-Selling

Cross-selling by banks and investment firms is a growing concern for securities regulators. At its best, this is a way for banks or investment firms to inform clients about the range of financial products and services available. At its worst, this common sales technique can take advantage of loyal clients.

What is Cross-Selling?

Cross-selling, similar to upselling, lures investors into purchasing securities related to the original investment. Cross-selling may be mutually beneficial when done properly, providing best value to the customer and increasing revenue for the adviser, without added marketing costs. However, advisers may try to push a product outside their scope of knowledge, or an unregistered product, which can lead to problems in many cases.

What Might a Cross-Selling Scheme Look Like?

Suppose a pre-existing client is casually approached by their investment adviser or bank representative about a new type of investment opportunity with the investment firm or bank. In this scenario the adviser or bank representative would use the pre-existing positive relationship to influence the client to increase their investments or advance with a new product.

Financial services companies claim this is a fair and highly effective marketing strategy, simply informing the client of the products and programs available to them. However, aggressive cross-selling has been reported as misleading the client, particularly when the client is financially vulnerable, elderly or suffering from diminished capacity, or otherwise easily swayed by sales tactics. If an adviser or bank representative is not acting in the client’s best interest, this could be considered a breach of fiduciary duty.

In several cases, bank representatives steered elderly clients towards the bank’s securities branch, which encouraged the clients to sell CDs and use that money to invest in high-risk investment vehicles.

EXAMPLE:
Investment Adviser A, a previously licensed insurance adviser whose license had been revoked, has partnered with Investment Adviser B to continue working with his clients.

Investment Adviser B offers insurance policies and Investment Adviser A offers private investment opportunities.

Their clients are cross-sold the private investment opportunities, neither Investment Adviser B nor the private investment product is registered.

This scheme is successful for Advisers A and B due to their strong and previously established trusting relationships with their clients.

Unregistered Investment Professionals and Unregistered Products –Federal, state and provincial securities law require both the investment and investment professional to be registered or qualify for an exemption. If either the professional or investment product is unregistered, you should investigate further.

Aggressive Sales Tactics – “once in a lifetime”, “must act now” or “limited availability” are examples of high pressure sales pitches which create a false sense of urgency for investors.

High Returns with Little to No Risk – classic warning sign of fraud, be suspicious of any investment that is said to be risk free.

Unsolicited Investment Offerings – consider the motivation, be careful if contacted about an investment opportunity, when you didn’t request the information from the provider.

Limited Information, No Written Documentation – a legitimate investment should be confirmed in writing. Sloppy offering documents (such as documents with grammatical errors or that appear carelessly put together) should be a warning sign that the offering could be a scam.

How to Protect Yourself

Check with FINRA’s BrokerCheck database and your state or provincial securities regulator to evaluate the bona fides of the financial advisers and offering materials. Regardless of how long you have known a person or been conducting business with an individual, it’s worthwhile to do a quick search in the database to confirm up-to-date licensing and compliance.

Ask questions about the offering and research the ostensible investment opportunity. Find out how the investment will generate returns, time frame for pay out, costs associated, and how your adviser will be commissioned. Enlist the help of a financial professional, lawyer or accountant who is independent from the adviser or bank offering the investment, to help you determine if the investment is a good fit for you.

Be skeptical of high-pressure sales tactics. Sales pitches that seem too good to be true are part of the art of persuasion con artists use against unwitting victims. Know that all investments carry some risk and the higher the return generally the greater the risk. If you are contacted out of the blue, be suspicious, especially if asked to keep the investment a secret. Lastly, resist the pressure to invest quickly, any reputable investment professional should respect your time, allow you to do research and not press you for an immediate answer.

The Bottom Line

Cross-Selling is a very common sales strategy and it’s emerging more into the banking and investment world. Investors may be easily swayed to invest in products not in their best interest. Look out for dubious sales pitches. Before making any financial decisions, ask questions, and do your homework. For more information, contact your state or provincial regulator. Contact information is available on the NASAA website, here.

   



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How to recognize financial decline in seniors—and help prevent financial abuse.
by FCNB on 


How to recognize financial decline in seniors—and help prevent financial abuse.

 

Financial abuse can happen to anyone. As we age and become more dependent on others, however, we can become more vulnerable to influence and pressure. This can lead to a situation of financial abuse or exploitation. The risk is even higher for those who suffer from some form of cognitive impairment (such as Alzheimer’s or dementia) as they may be significantly more dependent on others.

 

A serious financial loss is often devastating as senior victims of financial abuse struggle to regain their financial stability. Financial fraud and abuse can cause more than just money problems; victims lose trust in others, can become socially isolated, and show signs of health problems such as depression and anxiety.

 

According to Statistics Canada, New Brunswick is tied with Nova Scotia for having the highest percentage of seniors (19 per cent) in Canada. So it’s important that New Brunswick seniors prepare for a firm financial future, learn to recognize the signs of financial abuse, and know how to seek help when financial abuse is discovered.

 

What financial abuse of seniors can look like

Financial abuse is any act involving the misuse or abuse of funds or assets. It can include outright theft, abuse of power of attorney privileges, misuse of a senior’s finances, and targeting seniors to invest in unsuitable or fraudulent investment products. Common forms of abuse include:

•   Forcing someone to sign over power of attorney or control of their assets.

•   Forcing someone to sell their house or change their written will.

•   Depleting savings without the account holder’s knowledge.

•   Spending savings for items that do not benefit the account owner.

•   Withholding someone’s funds, pension cheque or other income.

 

Investment fraud, in particular, is common among seniors

New Brunswickers who are exposed to investment fraud are most commonly approached by telephone, email, or through a friend, family member, or co-worker. Signs of investment fraud include:

•   Being approached out of the blue with a “great investment opportunity.”

•   Being promised a high or guaranteed return on a low-risk investment.

•   Feeling pressure to act quickly.

•   Negative reaction from the person selling the investment when asking questions or delaying a response.

 

Seniors can take steps to protect themselves from financial fraud by hanging up the phone on unsolicited offers, and ignoring any inquiry into their finances or offer of investment opportunities from a stranger.

 

Note that it’s not always malicious

Being thrust into the role of primary caregiver for someone you love can come with a deluge of emotions and responsibilities. This can be overwhelming to say the least. A lack of knowledge around financial matters or responsibilities, or the absence of a care giver support system can lead to improper handling of financial matters. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from a financial professional. Our personal money management resources may help. Sandwich Generation – Are you stuck in the middle? provides a quick checklist for things to consider. 

 

Signs of financial abuse or financial exploitation

If you notice any of the following behaviours in a loved one, he or she may already be a victim of financial exploitation.

•   Someone that you may not know or trust asking for access to your loved one’s bank accounts or to be your loved one’s power of attorney.

•   Your loved one feeling pressure to give money when they know they should not.

•   Your loved one not fully understanding where their money is going or experiencing unusual banking transactions.

•   Suddenly changing their will.

•   Unusual fear of or sudden change in feelings about a particular person.

•   Change in appearance or noticeably poor hygiene.

•   Being accompanied by a caregiver who is overly protective.

•   Change in ability to perform activities of daily living including self-care, daily finances, or medication management.

•   Discrepancy between standard of living and financial assets.

 

Concerns about investment fraud can be reported to FCNB by calling 1 866 933-2222 or using our online form.  Other forms of financial abuse should be reported to your local police or RCMP.

 

Signs of diminished capacity

When someone is struggling with diminished capacity, they’re more likely to fall victim to a financial fraud. The following are signs that they may be struggling with diminished capacity, and may need you to step in and lend a hand — before they experience financial decline.

•   Lots of unopened mail.

•   Taking longer than usual to complete everyday financial tasks, like paying bills.

•   Paying the same bill multiple times and not paying others.

•   Decline in math skills, like figuring out the tax on an item.

•   Decreased understanding of financial concepts, like interest rates.

•   Uncharacteristic purchases.

•   Changes in their investment portfolio that are not aligned with their risk tolerance.

•   General unkemptness of the house, especially if they are typically neat people.

•   Making repeated calls to their banks because they forget their PIN number.

 

Our Money Talks: Financial Abuse brochure can help start a conversation about financial matters that may be concerning you. 

 

How to help protect seniors in your life

You may have a parent or other loved one with diminished financial capacity, or who you worry may face that issue in the future. If so, consider the following steps to help.

•   Have an open conversation about investments and other financial matters sooner rather than later.

•   Help your relative or friend with managing finances, if they request and consent to you helping.

•   If your family member or friend has named you to manage money or property, understand your responsibilities and how you can protect your loved one from financial exploitation.  FCNB has a brochure specifically for people who are acting as a power of attorney. Download your free copy here.

 

How to have a difficult talk about finances with your aging parents

Broaching how to safely handle money with your aging parents isn’t the easiest conversation to have. Many seniors are uncomfortable talking about their financial situation. By disclosing their finances, they may feel they are losing control over their lives. Unfortunately, many grown children avoid the conversation — until it’s too late.

 

Try raising the topic when the entire family is gathered together to celebrate a holiday. It ensures everyone in the immediate family is on the same page when it comes to their parents’ finances. A non-confrontational way to raise the topic is by turning it into them helping you: if something went wrong, you would be at a loss to know how to help them.

 

During the family meeting, ask the following questions, and cover the following topics:

•   Do you have a will, trust or other legal document in place and is it current?  If personal circumstances have changed since it was originally drafted, like a beneficiary has died, should it be revisited?

•   Have you given someone power of attorney (POA)? If not, then consider it. A POA is a legal document that lets a person choose who they want to manage their affairs if they become unable to do so.

•   Have you thought about giving your financial planner authorization to contact a preselected and appointed, authorized emergency person — like a son or daughter — should the financial planner suspect diminished capacity?

•   Do you have a health-care directive? This is a document where you can communicate what you would like to have happen should you become ill and unable to communicate your wishes.

•   Discuss common scams that target seniors. It will help your parents identify, report, and protect themselves against financial abuse. Website resources, like those at FCNB.ca, can provide information on common scams and frauds that New Brunswickers face.

•   For more vulnerable individuals, consider offering to regularly review their bank statements with them.

•   Listen for names of new friends that always seem to appear in their conversations. Isolation is a big contributing factor to senior financial abuse and some scam artists will prey on it.

•   Establish a family code word. That way, when your parents get a phone call from someone posing as a grandson and asking for a $10,000 loan, they can ask for the code word to verify their identity.

 

How to protect yourself as you age

If you aren’t now, you will likely eventually be a senior yourself! Taking the steps listed below now may help avoid or minimize problems for you and your family as you age — and potentially find yourself with diminished capacity.

•   Organize your important documents. Download our Record Keeper to help you.

   Provide your financial professionals with trusted emergency contacts.

   Consider appointing an enduring (or durable) power of attorney and drafting a will as part of an estate plan. (For a power of attorney dealing with financial or property matters to continue to be effective if you lose your mental capacity to manage your own affairs, it must be created as an enduring power of attorney. This is also referred to as a durable power of attorney.)

•   Keep things up to date and review periodically to be sure your plans still reflect your current situation.

 

You can do this!

Managing your finances safely and responsibly can be difficult at the best of times. And even young financially literate people can fall victim to financial frauds. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for us to experience some sort of decline in financial awareness and health as we age. Hopefully this guide can help you prepare for a safe financial future.


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How to raise financially literate children
by FCNB on 


How to raise financially literate children

Teaching your children money basics is as important as helping them develop reading, writing and math skills. Financial literacy is an essential life skill. Kids don’t automatically pick up good money habits—we have to teach them, and it’s never too early to start.

If you’ve tried to teach your kids about the value of a dollar and felt like you were over your head, don’t worry. You aren’t alone. In fact, we have heard from many New Brunswickers that they don’t know where to start when they try to talk to their kids about money.

Talking about money doesn't have to be intimidating or complicated. Teaching children about money can easily be integrated into daily family activities. In fact, teachable moments are a parent’s best friend. Shopping, planning a trip or going to the bank are opportunities to introduce financial concepts, to explain the difference between needs and wants, and to talk about saving, spending, and budgeting decisions. A simple question or comment about something they see every day can open the door to a much bigger conversation.

And remember to always lead by example. Kids are very observant, and pick up cues from your behaviour! To make sure you are financially fit, check out I’m Worth It! This program provides excellent information and strategies you can use when planning for your financial future and encourages you to spend based on your values, or what is most important in your life.

Here are some tips and ideas for how to introduce your children to financial literacy now so they grow up to be financially confident teens and adults. Talk about financial goals and saving
Help your children make smart spending decisions by teaching them how to set financial goals. The next time your child asks for something new, whether it’s an iPad, the latest toy, brand name clothing, or sports equipment, turn it into a teachable moment by encouraging them to set a goal and save their money to buy the item, or pay for a portion of it themselves.

Use the goal setting template on page 55 of Make it Count to create a savings plan to achieve their goal and keep track of their progress. But remember, all work and no play makes budgeting a dull chore! If they don’t get to enjoy the money they worked hard for, they won’t stick to any savings plan. Reward them for sticking to their plan and show them that being smart with their money doesn’t have to mean going without any fun! Download the Goal Setting Activity

Teach them to keep track of money

Your children may start receiving or earning money from a young age through allowances, gifts, and odd jobs like babysitting. As soon as your children start receiving money, help them keep track of it by teaching them how to use a budget. Download the Budgeting Activity
Help your child track their earnings and spending. Use the monthly budget sheet on page 51 of Make it Count. At the end of the month, look at their budget together and talk about what they enjoyed or regretted spending their money on and why. Tracking spending can be an eye-opening experience. Seeing where their money has gone can help them spend more mindfully in the future.

Once they have gotten used to tracking their spending, take it to the next level by having them set aside money for savings and making a plan for how they would like to spend their money next month.

Also, taking your child with you to the grocery store can be a great opportunity to talk about avoiding impulse purchases and sticking to a budget. Shop with a list and show them how you stick to purchasing just the items on your list. When they reach for the colourful box of candy next to the checkout, talk about the importance of using the list so you don’t spend more money than you have. 

Describe healthy use of plastic

Children are less and less likely to interact with physical cash, and transactions made with plastic (debit or credit cards) make it harder to feel the “pain” of parting with money. For older children, a prepaid debit or credit card can be a lower-risk way of introducing them to making purchases by swiping a card. It can help reinforce that a debit or credit card is not a magic, bottomless supply of money.

5 things your child should know about credit:

  • You need to have a clear plan for paying debt back. Taking on debt is convenient in the short term, but you shouldn’t borrow more than you can afford. And you should consider other options, such as saving up for a purchase, before impulsively swiping your card.
  • Credit is not the same thing as free money. It’s the opposite – borrowing money costs you more, as you have to pay back what you borrowed plus interest.
  • Using credit to buy things should only be done in certain circumstances. Credit cards are useful for online shopping that fits within your budget. Using it to pay other expenses may not be a good idea unless you’ve budgeted properly to pay it off in full.
  • You should think about the lifespan of a product before buying it on credit. For instance, if you want to buy a video game that you think you’ll be done playing within three months, but it will take five months to repay the debt, it might not be wise to borrow money for that purchase.
  • You should think about the value of the product to you. For parents, this is a great opportunity to talk about needs and wants and get your child thinking about the idea of value for money.

Teach them that money can be fun.

Being responsible with our money is important, but it’s also important to do enjoyable things with it so that we don’t feel like saving is a chore. That being said, overspending on entertainment is easy to do. A night at the movies for a family of four can easily add up to $80 or more! Show your children they can have fun and be smart with their money at the same time! Download the Recreational Spending Activity

Special advice for older students

Tuition, books, housing, groceries, bills…paying for post-secondary education and avoiding a heavy debt load is a big challenge– but not impossible. You can find lots of ways to save and manage your money while you’re studying. There are several ways to set money aside to help take away some of your stress. Here are a few tips you can use to save money:

  • Apply for as many scholarships, bursaries and grants as you can. Millions of dollars go unclaimed every year in Canada.  Here are some places you can start looking:
  • Start budget planning using our handy student budgeting tool. Keep in mind how much money you have, how much you need to spend and how much you can spend. 
  • Buy used books or borrow them from the library. Many universities have dedicated Facebook pages where students can sell their used books or even post requests for specific books.
  • Never do a grocery run when you’re already hungry. You’re more likely to spend more money and make impulse purchases that will dip into your budget.
  • Don’t buy brand name items. Most of the no-name brand items contain the same ingredients, but at a much cheaper price.
  • Try to limit how often you eat in restaurants. Most universities and colleges offer meal plans, so check with yours to find a meal plan that meets your needs.
  • If you shop often at a particular store, consider getting a membership card or points card for that store. Some retailers offer points cards that help you save money through discounts or other benefits.

Remember, it’s never too early to help your children start forming good financial habits! Hopefully these tips and ideas give you some ideas for how you can start talking about money with your children. Tomorrow’s smart spenders are today’s kids! Let’s all make sure they have the tools they need.



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