Lessons in Personal Finance: A Back-to-School Giveaway

If you haven’t noticed yet, there’s been a bit of a theme to this week’s posts. I’ve been talking about careers, reading, writing, and going back to school to learn about investing… and it all leads to one pretty awesome giveaway, if I do say so myself!

All summer, I’ve been trying to think of a giveaway that I would want to win. If there’s one thing I love more than almost anything else, it’s books. And the topic I’m obviously most interested in reading about these days is personal finance. So, I decided to combine the two and give readers a chance to win a couple of my favourite personal finance books.

Thanks to donations by the authors, I’m giving one reader a signed copy of Debt-Free Forever by Gail Vaz-Oxlade and a copy of How Not to Move Back in With Your Parents by Rob Carrick. Gail and Rob are two of the people I look up to most, when it comes to Canadian personal finance writers, so I’m really excited to share some of their words and advice with you.

And to sweeten the pot, I want to throw in a copy of MoneySense’s Beginner’s Guide to Personal Finance. I read the guide in one sitting, this summer, and I think it’s an incredible resource for any Canadian who is just starting to get serious about their finances (hence the title).

If you’re noticing that the word “Canadian” keeps being repeated, that’s because I’m only making this giveaway open to residents of Canada. I think some of the content in the books could be beneficial to anyone, but there’s a lot of technical jargon that only applies to our savings vehicles, and I want a Canadian to soak up every bit of the advice. I hate the thought of excluding other readers, but I can promise there will be another giveaway for everyone to enter before Christmas!

To enter this giveaway, you can tweet about it (1 entry), follow me on Twitter (1 entry), like my Facebook page (1 entry) or write a comment on this post that answers the question below (2 entries). You can also do all of these things for a total of 5 entries. (Remember to use Rafflecopter to make your entries count!)

The Back-to-School Giveaway is open to Canadians only. This giveaway starts on Friday, August 30th at 12:00 a.m. PST and ends on Sunday, September 8th at 12:00 a.m. PST. The winner will be announced in a blog post on Monday, September 9th at 4:00am PST. Good luck!

Name one personal finance lesson that you think kids/teens/college students should be taught in school.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

  • Great giveaway – lots of knowledge in those books!

    I think it is so important to learn to differentiate Wants versus Needs and where those fit into a working budget (aka Needs being the priority, not the newest iGadget). Heck, even just drawing up a budget would be a big start over what is currently taught.

  • I’ve read debt free forever but am itching to get my hands on the other two.

    I think every kid should be taught to have a good work ethic . . . I know it’s hard to teach in a classroom, you need to help enforce it every day. But it can be the difference between partying every night instead of going to classes, and between living off of student debt and living off a part time job.

  • This is a great give away! I love Gail’s books and I always love reading Rob’s articles whenever he tweets them.

    Picking just one lesson to teach students is a tough one, but if I had to pick just one, I’d say a lesson teaching kids about getting a good return on investment with regards to their education.

    Budgeting and compound interest are super important too, but being able to find employment after school is so, so important! I know too many people who came out of arts courses with zero job prospects and big student loans.

  • The one thing I think should be taught is:

    The value of compound interest and starting early!


  • Definitely how to create a budget so you live within your means! They need to learn that you first allocate $$ to stuff you need (living expenses, food, an emergency fund, retirement) and then you allocate out the stuff you want. Not the other way around!

  • I think the most important lesson is to start saving for post secondary school as soon as they get their first part-time job. We taught our kids to save 50% of their net pay. Oldest son is finishing up university debt free, youngest is heading off to first year with a good amount saved as well.

  • Well a part-time job is always great when they are at an appropriate age – even working for just a few hours a week and putting aside 25% of that money can pay off in the long run. Also budgeting!

  • Great blog post and great contest!

    I think the most important thing that every kid should learn is basic budgeting skills. As simple as that sounds there are SO many people especially students (myself in the past included) who didn’t know how to live within their means. Basic budgeting skills go a long way- and to learn that a credit card is not real money!

  • Oh I have been dying to read Debt Free Forever. So instead of me actually BUYING it, maybe I can win it and take a small step toward not spending money! Yes, please. :)

    PS — great idea to give away these books and “pay” it forward!

  • http://news.morningstar.com/classroom2/course.asp?docId=142858&page=1&CN=

    The Magic of Compounding

    In this course

    1 Introduction
    2 The Components of Compound Interest
    3 Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?
    4 Time Is on Your Side
    5 Why Is Compound Interest Important to Stock Investing?
    6 The Bottom Line

    When you were a kid, perhaps one of your friends asked you the following trick question: “Would you rather have $10,000 per day for 30 days or a penny that doubled in value every day for 30 days?” Today, we know to choose the doubling penny, because at the end of 30 days, we’d have about $5 million versus the $300,000 we’d have if we chose $10,000 per day.

    Compound interest is often called the eighth wonder of the world, because it seems to possess magical powers, like turning a penny into $5 million. The great part about compound interest is that it applies to money, and it helps us to achieve our financial goals, such as becoming a millionaire, retiring comfortably, or being financially independent.

  • CREDIT CARDS! I have a little brother currently in university who started taking cash advances on his credit card when my parents told him that he could no longer take any more money for general life purposes from the line of credit that they co-signed for him (to be used for tuition/books/legitimate school expenses). I knew cash advances on credit cards were an option but I had no idea people actually used this as a form of credit, never mind my own brother. I don’t think he has any idea how credit cards actually work.

  • All kids should learn to divvy up their monthly expenses mid month and end of month to lessen the blow of bills.

  • I think one of the most important that kids should be taught is saving some of your money. When kids have a part time job, a lot of the time, they will spend all of their money and have nothing to show for it. By learning about saving concepts like save 10% of your income or pay yourself first, they will be one step closer to living a responsible life and saving money. :)

  • I think that there are 2 major holes in the school system today when it comes to financial lessons. The first is credit cards. Before we turn 18, we should know what credit cards are, the dangers involved in using them and how to use them properly. The second is investing. We don’t think about it until it’s too late but, if we learned more about it in school, I think more of us would get a jump start early! Thanks for the great read!

  • As a recent university grad I think the biggest lesson I would’ve wanted to learn is budgeting. It something that seems so easy but to be able to do it effectively I think is super important!

    Also, another easy thing to say but not so much do is – don’t spend more than you make (i.e credit cards!)!! Since stumbling upon your blog in July I’ve paid off over 50% of my credit card debt!

    You are really an inspiration!

  • Hi Cait, great giveaway! Good luck with the CSC, I took the “real” thing for my job at the time, the exam was tough so its good you won’t have to do it :)

    One lesson I think should be taught in school is saving for what you want. How to start an automatic savings plan and planning to save up for the things you want.

  • Hey Cait – Awesome post and great contest!

    If there is one thing I think I think students need to understand is a bit more of the reality of what life costs and use that knowledge to build a budget and future. For example, when you buy a car – you don’t just pay for the physical vehicle. You pay for gas, yearly insurance, tires, regular maintenance, repairs, and fees for parking. It’s not a one time deal and some of may be unexpected and costly! You need to budget for all these things or have an emergency fund. There can be alternatives to owning a vehicle – like taking the bus or walking if those are options – but that may change where you choose to live or work. There are options to be proactive in avoiding debt!

  • What should teenagers learn about finances in school?? There are too many things to mention – there should be an entire course on it, the same as English or Math skills – every Canadian kid should learn finance skills as well. How different would our stories be if we had learned more in school??

    If I have to pick one – and I learned this from Gail V.O. – research your costs on student loans vs. how much you are going to make in your chosen profession. Why borrow $100,000 when you’ll only earn $30,000 a year?? (makes sense to me!)

  • The one personal finance lesson I gave my daughter (a 2nd year UFV student) is to “live within your means”. In other words, don’t spend what you don’t have. Try to accept that the time spent saving for something you cannot afford today is not nearly as difficult as dealing with debt (and its consequences) by purchasing today using credit.

  • I think kids in school need examples of how to get out of x dollars of debt with an entry-level salary, and expenses. Math class with a twist! I don’t think people are truly aware of how long it can take to pay off debt.

  • Important lessons in personal finance that should be taught in schools include the aforementioned budgeting and saving, but more importantly, the OPPORTUNITY COST on your expenditures!

  • My dad always told me to live within my means, and to pay off credit cards in full every month. I think those lessons are key to avoiding any kind of consumer debt.

  • Besides money basics, I think students should be taught the importance of physical organization (i.e., keeping all their financial records up to date, easily accessible and in one spot)! Nothing worse than digging through boxes years later trying to find the original copy of one of your student loan agreements…lol

  • I think all young people should be educated on anything that can appear to them to be like “free money”. Cash advances, credit cards (especially not getting sucked into ones with points if you don’t know if you will be able to pay off the balance every month – way higher fees and interest), rent to own, by now pay later…all of those.
    And the incredible important of making a lifelong habit of saving. Even just a little bit, but SOMEthing every month.

  • I think students need to learn the value of applying for scholarships. Personally my father always told me to apply to anything and everything. Because of that I was awarded over $15,000 in scholarships in my undergrad — including awards I didn’t “fully” qualify for but I was probably the only one who applied. (example = I applied to an award for individuals who have immediate family members in the army. I told the truth on my application and said that I had a grandfather who was in the Navy in World War II — and I got the award worth $500!!)

    Another topic would be budgeting – or at least living within your means … I saw many students who relied on Mommy and Daddy end up failing and having no money because they just spent like crazy — whereas I worked hard, took on volunteer and part-time jobs, made sure I had good summer jobs and I got straight A’s (time management skills!) and ended up with no school debt

    Love your blog btw :)

  • I think that everyone should be taught how to balance a checkbook and have a budget. These are skills that will be useful for the rest of your life!

  • Looks like a great giveaway :)

    One lesson I learned really young that I think children and teens should learn is to pay yourself first. My siblings and I always hate to set aside a certain portion of our earnings, whether it was from our first paper route or our part time high school jobs. When you’re used to thinking of part of your income as savings, it’s an easier to adopt the habit in adulthood!

  • I think kids in high school should be taught about credit cards and interest. That one screwed me over in my early twenties. (And is unfortunately going to again as I head into my thirties, thanks to a change in career that has forced almost 36 months of living mostly on student loans and credit – rather against my previously mostly debt free wishes! Sigh. So aware of the need for things to change in my finances as I stare down the last five months of my second swing at post-secondary education, and hope to start making a living rather than accumulating debt in the coming new year!)

  • Oh God I love Gail! Great giveaway idea!

    “Name one personal finance lesson that you think kids/teens/college students should be taught in school.”

    Without hesitation I would have to say, “start saving early”. From the time you get your first job in high school, open up an RRSP and put $20 a pay into it. This will put you so far ahead of the pack when it comes to paying for education, buying a home, and/or saving for retirement. The later in life you start to save, the harder it will be to amass the same kind of cushion you could have started stuffing when you were younger.

  • Personal finance lesson: Always be Saving! Put some money away, and make it automatic if you can.

    p.s. I accidentally entered before I re-read the instructions about Canada only. So you can delete my entries (if possible) or if I win, just pick someone else!

  • Cool giveaway! I’m currently reading the Beginner’s Guide to Personal Finance but if I win I’ll give it to a friend in need :)

    In school, kids should be taught about setting a goal and saving to get there. It’s all about delayed gratification!

  • I think kids should be taught about credit cards, interest rates and hidden fees and how much it costs them to keep a balance on their cards. I would have loved to be taught that by my parents or economics teacher.

  • I think teens and college students should taught is what it means to have an RRSP versus a pension versus and tax free savings account and the differences between them and what they can do for you in the long term.

  • Thanks for the giveaway, Cait!

    I think everyone should learn how to put together a budget to determine their cost of living. Even just writing down and balancing the cost of housing, transportation, insurances, loans, interest rates, entrainment, clothes, and of course, the cost of our education itself, and how long it will take to pay it off, with one’s income (or lack of), would be helpful.

  • Financially literacy needs to be part of the educational system. Teaching children about money and how to handle it is as important as geography, history, and / or math. The biggest lesson that needs to be taught is never spend more than you make.

    Thanks for the awesome blog!

  • I so wish I was taught by my parents to save that 10 percent! Sure they talked about it but did not make sure I was saving. Now many years later I’m trying to teach myself as well as my daughter!
    It must start before school in my opinion!

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