One retiree’s quest to boost financial literacy in our schools

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Bob Cleaver

By Bob Cleaver

Special to the Financial Independence Hub 

 

I am not alone. In 2011 I made a decision to move all our investments out of a mutual fund holder and into a discount brokerage in order to buy stocks.

I had begun to read books on the stock market:   investing, history and psychology. It was a tremendous learning exercise.

Then one day during a conversation with a like minded friend he mentioned charts. I had read about charts; they seemed complicated but something struck a chord and I signed up for a stock charting service. The charting included with the discount brokerage I use is archaic and slow and I wasn’t learning anything from it. The charting service opened my eyes to a whole new world.

Why isn’t investing taught in the schools?

At the same time as I was learning I wondered why investing isn’t being taught in our schools. I wrote  letters to several different  ministers of education for the province of Ontario. All polite replies but nothing positive until one day I received a letter that referred me to two policy statements  for the province for grades 4 to 8 and another for grades 9 to 12. “It’s all in there ,” was the reply.

I read this document with full anticipation of nothing and that is what I got. Tenuous connections in most subjects and even in the mathematics and business sections a bitter disappointment. It’s all geared towards learning how to calculate different business activities that would be helpful when you get into the fundamental side of stock research.

Then there are studies on rates of return on annuities and how much an RRSP would return in so many years at a given rate. The kicker was that there are a lot of electives among these courses. You might not even take the course that might tweak the question  how do I invest?

I know everyone has to go through a learning curve to discover which strategy is going to be most comfortable for them but other priorities often get in the way. You might not get to really thinking about this unless a co worker, a friend or a relative gets you started. So I wondered why this isn’t taught as a core subject throughout high school?

A late start learning investing basics means losing time in the market

You could have the basics of investing at an age when you are still in the mode of acquiring knowledge without other issues like marriage, jobs and children. Why wait to discover all this until your twenties, thirties, forties or later? By then you have lost a valuable commodity — time. Time in the market.

I found I wasn’t alone in this search for an answer. On August 27, 2012 Liam Lahey wrote a tremendous piece on the subject of financial literacy in the schools.

Federal financial literacy leader Jane Rooney

There is now a literacy leader at the federal level. Her name is Jane Rooney. Ms. Rooney is gathering information regarding  financial literacy with the intention of putting it on a government website for all to use. She is also promoting financial literacy through companies and organizations.

In fact, one of the ideas coming out of her office is that November should be Financial Literacy Month. Anything will help but it is not universal. It is also interesting to note that education is a provincial responsibility and she has yet to touch base with the ministries of education. I wrote the provincial minister,  one Liz Sandals, and they had nothing planned for the Financial Literacy Month.

Conservative White Paper

Tim Hudak’s Conservative party laid out an education white paper that had me very interested and follow up conversations with my local MPP has me invigorated about the future of teaching investing in our schools. Future generations will be much the better for an education that will increase their financial knowledge.

Bob Cleaver is  retired, loves Susan, the kids, and the grandkids. Enjoys skating and watching the Brockville Braves hockey team. Won senior champion in golf at his local club.
Cannot get over the fact that he is 66. Looking forward to a long and healthy retirement.
Enjoys reading books on investing.

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