CAN$ave – Fundamental Financial Literacy Education for Kids

Reflecting on the journey that is parenting, it really does amaze me at how much we teach our children. From basic skills like tying shoes and riding a bike, to more complex responsibilities like etiquette – the education really does not stop. 

One of the things I’ve been focusing on with my own kids, is financial literacy. Money management skills are so crucial during all phases of life, so I believe in teaching kids at a young age to place high value on being educated in financial responsibility. It’s so important to empower even the youngest of people to take control of their lives, which includes their finances.

Financial Literacy Education for Kids

I’ve written articles on talking to kids about money, the importance of chores and savings here on the blog and in my social mentions – so you know that it’s a value I hold dear. 

I mean, we all know the phrase ‘money doesn’t grow on trees‘ and I’m sure this was born after a child asked for something a dozen million times. 

Like any skill mastered, financial literacy needs to be learned and practiced, and I applaud programs which go that extra mile to educate via this ‘hand-on’ approach. 

Recently I discovered the amazing Capital One Financial Education Challenge, which has been running for five years in partnership with Enactus Canada. The challenge empowers post-secondary students to develop and deliver projects that teach relevant financial skills to under-resourced groups in their local communities and beyond. Student teams compete annually on a regional and national level, presenting their financial literacy work to Enactus judging panels.

Enactus stands for ‘ENtrepreneurial ACTion for others creates a better world for US all’ and is a non-profit community of students, academic, and business leaders which aren’t just in Canada but span 36 countries.

With the Capital One Financial Education Challenge, teams of students develop and deliver projects that address the specific and unique financial education and/or financial inclusion needs and opportunities in their communities with the aim of improving livelihoods. Since 2006 this challenge has engaged 7,125 students from across 68 Canadian universities, resulting in the delivery of 779 financial education outreach projects, which have directly impacted 115,950 community participants.

As you can see, this is a valuable program both to students themselves and Canada’s residents as a whole. After all, the program aims to tackle the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals, which have been set for 2030. 

The Capital One Financial Education Challenge not only helps students build their business skills, global outlook, financial literacy, leadership ability, sustainable practices, and properly forms the leaders of tomorrow – but it greatly impacts and improves the corresponding communities as well.

The regional competition results in this challenge produced 6 winning teams from across Canada, and Nationals are up next on May 3 in Toronto!

I’d like to highlight one team from Western Canada that is one of the 6 finalists. Enactus Okanagan College ran an entrepreneurial five-lesson program aimed at teaching key financial literacy concepts to elementary school students. These included the importance of saving money, the advantages of having a bank account, and critical lessons about effective money management.

Through their project, CAN$ave, the Okanagan College team directly impacted 196 students and feedback indicated that lessons spilled over into the home through conversations about money management and savings, via a simulated economy which reinforces what the students are learning through first-hand experience.

As I discussed earlier about parenting and the importance I place on educating young children in financial literacy, I’m so pleased with their choice in efforts.

Yet, teaching children about financial literacy wasn’t the only success of their program. While they offered education to elementary students, they also built in an incentive for those children who successfully completed the program, who were awarded $25 in the form of a donation to a charity of the class’s choice. This component of CAN$ave also enforces the value of saving for those who have unmet needs – social responsibility.

Through their CAN$ave project, the Enactus Okanagan College team is empowering children with the tools necessary to build their own secure and fulfilling futures, and also benefiting those in their communities. The program is aimed to make a significant impact on a child’s future financial well-being, and ultimately to the financial well-being of our society as a whole.

The Enactus Okanagan College team is one that is moving onto the national level of competition happening on May 2-4 at the 2016 Enactus Canada National Exposition in Toronto, Ontario.

As a parent who wholeheartedly agrees that this aspect of education should start sooner than it does, I’m cheering Enactus Okanagan College on and hoping their initiatives in the Okanagan grow to reach across Canada.


Help the team improve their program even more by leaving a comment below:

What is the most important financial lesson you can teach to young children? How do you lay the groundwork for financial lessons later in life? Let me know for a chance to be featured in a future post.  



Disclosure: This is a compensated post, yet as always, all opinions are my own.



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  1. For us, from day one I let them know that I had put their “family allowance” into RESP’S for them , since they were babies. (yeah I’m that old it was family allowance and now apparently its gone?) ANYWAYS, even though our family has always been min wage earners, I put money into schooling for them, always explained that if they wanted those big ticket toys (PS4, XBOX, etc) that they would need some very good jobs to get that stuff (I won stuff for the kids like that or they bought their own with the money they earned) Kids like all that tech stuff but the reality is , its not cheap, so budgeting and what not is seriously important as well as an education and a decent paying job (I really didn’t want my kids to be stuck in min wage jobs all their lives like myself)

  2. Very good post! My parents starting savings accounts for us when we were young; and very much understand the value of a dollar… BUT, as far as investments go – im pretty clueless what to do!

    I think it is VERY smart to teach children young about the basics and even a little further past that so they are prepared for the future!

  3. Teaching my kids to save is very important to me. I put most of their money in the bank for the future. They will thank me later!

  4. We are teaching our son the value of a dollar. He saved for almost a year and half because he wanted an iPad. He earned every cent and bought it with his own money. He was SO proud of himself.

  5. In addition to teaching our kids at home, I think that financial literacy needs to be taught in the schools. Too many kids enter life without having a clue how to manage money.

  6. SO important to teach kids financial literacy at a young age! We try teaching our kids starting young!

  7. We try to teach our kids saving is key and the less you spend on useless junk the more you can/will have! Its so important to teach kids not to just blow through money, and teach them how important it really is.

  8. I think teaching kids about money and finances is SO important. When I was little, we learned to have respect for money and SAVING IT!

  9. So nice to see young people learning early. As parents we can all use any help & tips possible to help kids understand young! Thanks for the great post.

  10. Wow, what a great project. We had a class in HS that went over a lot of this and it was very helpful. I love that this is available for Canadians

  11. I think these types of things are so important. So many kids grow up not knowing a thing about money, and they pay for it later. Literally.

  12. I think it’s extremely important that kids know how to save up. My girls both have their own piggy banks that they get to put money in. All that money always goes in to the bank as well. I think the earlier they learn the better.

  13. This was a great post. I hate to say it but we don’t take the extra steps at all to help tech. I need to rectify that immediately.

  14. The Capital One Financial Education Challenge sounds fantastic. Kids need to learn about business and finances.

  15. This is a fantastic idea. I will have to look into this some more. It is so important for kids to learn these skills.

  16. These are such important skills for kids to learn. The Capital One Financial Education Challenge is definitely worth checking out.

  17. Great ideas!! I so think that is it important to start educating our kids on money and how it “works” seems like more and more our society is based on credit and how much we can charge??!! We so need to change this and educating our kids is a great way to start!!

  18. It is important to teach children about finances and money as soon as possible. This is the way we give them lessons they can use all their lives.

  19. My kids are adults now but when they were young we talked about the importance of money all the time.We are teaching our grandson the value of a dollar now and he is saving every cent for a Science kit he wants.

  20. What a great project. Our kids are still really young, so we haven’t done too much yet aside from recognizing different coins in a piggy bank, but I know it’s time to start soon. My parents focussed on financial literacy with me growing up and it made a great different for me. We had allowances, were taught to budget, I set up my RRSP at 16 with my first job etc… Lots of skills to bring into adulthood.

  21. I try to make the importance of the dollar and money important in our household so that my kids know when they are older.

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