By Dan Walton
Saving money is a habit that’s easy to procrastinate, and since the importance of financial reserves isn’t driven home through public education, the Family Resource Centre decided to host a free workshop for youngsters on the subject.
In conjunction with FrogskinU a not-for-profit educational foundation from Calgary local Grade 5 and 6 students were invited to take part in a financial literacy program at the Women’s Resource Centre in Frater Landing ind downtown Invermere on Saturday, January 17th.
For the past three years, FrogskinU educators have been offering workshops in the Calgary area that teach how to apply the academics of school to life as an adult. In order to intervene at the most critical stage of a student’s life, FrogskinU aims to teach financial literacy to middle-school students and reinforce the message with their parents.
Teaching the importance of responsible money management is a popular idea since implementing it into the public school system has proven to be a challenge.
“Everyone knows there’s a need; it’s just that no one seems to know where to start,” said FrogskinU instructor Michelle Delisle said. “We decided just to start and now we can’t keep up with the demand.”
FrogskinU speaks to the pitfalls caused by debt, and how saving is fun, she said.
“Instead of hounding them to spend, we hound them to save,” said Ms. Delisle. “They become engaged with their money, and they start talking with their parents about money.”
After taking in a rare dose of financial education, the students are rewarded with Frog Bucks, which can later be spent, invested, or gambled to obtain prizes.
It’s crucial to involved parents, as finances are a family affair, Ms. Delisle said.
“Money does not grow on trees, and we all have to help each other there is only a limited amount of money to play with. If we all help each other and we all understand, then we can do better as a family.”
And while financial prudence has always been important, it’s become even more so in the age of electronics.
“The need has grown even more since money has become invisible,” she said. “Kids are not learning to work with tangibles of money. They just put it on the plastic.”
After a positive reception for their pilot project in the valley, the educators are working to secure funding, which will allow the program to continue locally.
“There won’t be money for their education or goals (if students don’t learn proper money management),” said Ms. Delisle. “They have to start saving right now. Grade 5 at the latest.”