Money: No matter where it comes from, know where it goes.
While the Holiday season may be feeling like a distant, fleeting memory, one reminder of the seasonal festivities is sure to pop up in our mailboxes or inboxes soon – the post-Holiday banking and credit card statements. With the arrival of these bills, many of us may feel financial stress and look for ways to prevent this anxiety next year.
That’s where financial literacy comes in! Although Financial Literacy Month takes place in November, it may be safe to assume that more people become acutely aware of the need for financial literacy in January.
Often times when I start to talk about financial literacy, people’s eyes tend to glaze over; but what if I asked you:
- Do you want to save money?
- Do you want more control of your money?
- Would you like less stress in your life?
I bet some of these questions catch your attention!
That’s because financial literacy means having the knowledge, skills and confidence to deal with money matters. It helps you save more, plan more and gain more control and comfort with your finances.
As an Eastern Health occupational therapist, who works with individuals to enable independence in daily activities, I understand that building financial empowerment skills can help to achieve these goals. Improving an individual’s financial literacy skills can impact their ability to grocery shop, pay bills, connect to the community as well as participate in many other every day activities.
Planning ahead is a key element of financial literacy that can help alleviate some of the anticipated financial stress associated with holidays, back-to-school or other expensive times of the year. Just think, that by setting aside $25 a pay cheque throughout the year, you would have $650 to spend at Christmas. It’s those strategic savings spread out during the year that can help ease some financial burdens.
Financial literacy is key to financial empowerment, but is about more than just money. Did you know that being more financially savvy can improve an individual’s health and well-being?
Your finances and your health
According to Social Enterprise and Development Innovators, the health benefits of financial literacy are numerous, including:
- improved hopefulness and optimism about the future;
- enhanced sense of self control;
- decreased stress and anxiety; and
- decreased relationship stress.
Eastern Health understands the importance financial literacy plays in the health of the people it serves, which is why it partners with community organizations that build financial literacy skills – one of these organizations is, Stella’s Circle.
Building financial empowerment
Certainly, money triggers stress for many people. Sometimes even everyday activities such as grocery shopping can be emotionally challenging.
That is why, in November, Stella’s Circle launched “Making Ends Meet and More” a toolkit for service providers to help build financial literacy skills with individuals with complex needs. In my role as an occupational therapist with Stella’s Circle, I assisted in writing the proposal that received money from the TD Financial Literacy Fund to develop the resource tool.
The toolkit is not only designed to help develop money management skills, but also to help identify community resources, develop confidence and incorporate financial literacy into daily activities such as meal planning, grocery shopping and leisure activities. Topics include: choices, needs versus wants, budgeting, saving money on food, banking, setting boundaries, borrowing money and debt, credit reports, paid employment, paystubs and personal income taxes.
Our toolkit teaches important life skills to people of all educational backgrounds through hands-on practical activities and recognizes that financial literacy is not as easy as just developing a budget. Many individuals who live on a low income are extremely resourceful and skilled at budgeting. In fact, research tells us that individuals who live with the lowest incomes, the lowest 20 per cent, are just as likely to budget as those with the highest incomes.
Financial literacy for all
The need for financial literacy is truly universal. We can all benefit from understanding the difference between needs and wants, how to be a smarter shopper and an increased understanding of financial products, such as savings accounts and investments.
For example, did you know that by simply using a meal planner and following a grocery list, you can save tons of cash by avoiding wastage? Almost $1,500 in food goes to waste every year in the average Canadian household – that’s about the same price as a trip down south!
Hmm, financial literacy… not so boring after all! ■
If you would like to find out more about the “Making Ends Meet and More” toolkit, please call (709) 738-7258.
For online financial resource information, please visit:
This story was written by Keri Chambers, an Eastern Health occupational therapist working with Stella’s Circle. Keri is also a member of the National Asset Building Learning Exchange committee.