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my money coach

Do you know how

financial literacy can help your life?

by Tim St Vincent

avoid debt infographicThis is a particularly timely topic as November is officially Financial Literacy Month across all of Canada. I guess before we can talk about “How financial literacy can help your life?,” we should first provide a definition of what exactly “financial literacy” is. That isn’t as easy as it sounds.

According to Investopedia, financial literacy is the education and understanding of various financial areas including topics related to managing personal finance, money and investing. Futurpreneur defines financial literacy as the education and understanding of various financial areas including topics related to managing personal finance, money and investing. Others have defined it as the education and understanding of knowing how money is made, spent, and saved, as well as the skills and ability to use financial resources to make decisions.

The definition I prefer defines financial literacy as understanding and being able to apply the real world applications of concepts such as interest rates and rates of return, of compound and simple interest of debt and credit, of budgets and expenses. It is great to be able to understand how to calculate something like interest, but if you don’t understand how to apply that knowledge into your real world situation, well then, that is knowledge lost.

There is no way in the space of a short article that I could ever hope to provide someone with everything they need to be financially literate. That is a journey of a lifetime, and I am still travelling down that path myself. At 56 I am still striving to be fully financially literate as I learn a little more each day. Well, if I can’t help you become financially literate in the course of one article, perhaps I can provide you with some signposts that might point you in the right direction.

Let’s first start off with the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada. ( This is a federal agency that “ensures federally regulated financial entities comply with consumer protection measures, promotes financial education and raises consumers’ awareness of their rights and responsibilities.” This is a very diverse organization and is a great resource to assist in your financial education. As this is Financial Literacy Month, they have a series of weekly tips available. For Week 3 they are focusing on Tips To Avoid Debt.

I strongly encourage you to check out their website for other tips and articles to assist you on your journey to financial literacy. They have compiled a vast amount of resources and information for you.

A little closer to home we have the Manitoba Financial Literacy Forum. The Forum is a coalition of organizations and individuals working together to promote lifelong financial education and skills to Manitobans. The forum is made up of more than 40 active members, including government agencies, private businesses, not-for-profit organizations, financial educators, credit counselling services and volunteer groups, as well as individuals and families. They have an excellent website full of tools and resources available for everyone to use. ( Their website is full of relevant articles and valuable information. They also hold “Lunch & Learn” sessions that cover a variety of topics and are open to the public.

Finally, I would like to direct you to my place of employment for additional resources, either our organization’s website ( or our educational website ( They are both excellent sources of information to help you along your journey of financial literacy. On our websites you can find a variety of sources of information and tools. We have items ranging from self-assessment quizzes to help you figure out how you are doing financially, budgeting tools, and a variety of articles geared to help you along your journey. We also have a variety of webinars that you can join. And if you find yourself in need, you can even make an appointment to talk to a certified credit counsellor to assist you.

If you have a partner in your life it is very important that they join you in your ongoing, never ending journey to financial literacy. It is a journey that you must both take together and help one another along. I don’t know exactly where your journey will take you, but if you follow some of the guideposts that I have provided in this article, I am confident that your journey will be a valuable and fruitful one. Best of luck to you!

Tim St Vincent is a retired CFP and is a Certified Educator in Personal Finance with the Credit Counselling Society, a non-profit organization. If you wish to contact the Society for further information, assistance or to attend a webinar, please call 1-888-527-8999 or visit or

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