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A discussion guide on financial literacy for elementary school students​

Globe-WE Learning Guide

A discussion guide on financial literacy for elementary school students

The Globe and Mail and We Charity have partnered to promote media literacy and education around global issues. This is part of a series of discussion guides and videos for parents and their children to read, watch and discuss together

Money is a part of everyday living, and learning how to earn money, track spending, budgeting and accountable spending are skills that will help kids make smart decisions with their personal finances, both now and in the future. Some of the exercises in this discussion guide may feel a little like schoolwork – but the prize for getting a handle on personal finance is empowerment: the skills and confidence to achieve any number of financial and life goals.

Conversation starters

In our family…

  1. Where does money come from?
  2. What do we use money for?
  3. Why do people need money? (E.g., buying food or school supplies, paying for shelter, heat, electricity, etc.)
  4. Where do we keep money when we are saving it?
  5. How is money represented? (E.g., coins, polymer or paper bills, electronically with debit cards, e-transfers, etc.)

Watch, then discuss

Can you relate to Alexander's story?

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Talk about your family's money priorities. What are each of your ideas on:

  • Ways to earn money.
  • Items to save money for.
  • Items to spend money on now.
  • What is the difference between needs and wants? Give some examples of each.

Earning, saving, giving, spending

What does each of these financial actions mean to you? Ask kids to match each of the following scenarios to the correct corresponding category.

  • Buying a birthday present for your little brother. (Earning, saving, giving or spending?)
  • Babysitting a neighbour’s infant after school three nights a week. (Earning, saving, giving or spending?)
  • Putting money in a piggy bank. (Earning, saving, giving or spending?)
  • Contributing to a coin drive to fund the purchase of goats for a family in a developing country. (Earning, saving, giving or spending?)

Saving patiently

Talk about a time when your family saved money – perhaps for a vacation, for a home renovation or in case of emergencies. Then discuss:

  • What is patience?
  • Is patience different than waiting? How so?
  • How is saving money an example of being patient?

First you need to set a goal, then put money aside for that goal. Next, you must be patient and practice self-discipline by continuing to save money. It might not be easy at first, but the motivation to save increases as you see the savings grow. Savings can take different forms. You might have a short-term savings goal, such as buying a video game or going to the movies with friends, or you might have a long-term savings goal such as buying a mountain bike. Whatever you are saving for, it is rewarding to set a goal and achieve it.

Creating a financial plan

This simple exercise will get both parents and kids thinking about budgeting and saving strategies. First, identify something you'd like to save for. That's your goal.

Next, consider how you will earn, save and, if necessary, reduce your spending to achieve your goal. You may find it helpful to run through each of these scenarios:

  • If I get $5 a week but I spend $3 a week on treats, what will I have at the end of the month for my savings?
  • If I get $5 a week and save half, $2.50, before spending the remaining amount, how much will I have saved at the end of the month?
  • If I get $5 a week and save half, $2.50, give $1 and spend the rest, how much will I have saved at the end of the month and how much will I have shared with others?

Once you've done the math, decide which option works best for you and why.

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Key terms

Appreciation – rise in value or price over time.

Asset – anything owned that has value, for example, a house or investments.

Bank book or pass book – a small book that an account holder keeps where a financial institution records the amounts of money deposited and withdrawn from the account.

Bank machine – an electronic machine that allows users to perform banking transactions such as cash withdrawals, deposits, bill payments and more by inserting a unique, encoded debit card. Also called Automatic Bank Machine (ABM) or Automated Teller Machine (ATM).

Banknote – a piece of "paper" money issued by a central bank, legal tender.

Budget – a financial plan adjusting expenses to income.

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Commerce – the exchange of goods or services between businesses or entities. Countries are concerned with managing commerce in a way that enhances the well-being of citizens, by providing jobs and producing beneficial goods and services.

Economy – everything related to the production and consumption of goods and services in an area.

Finance – managing money resources.

Financal empowerment – having access to the tools and knowledge you need to create your own path and achieve the goals that matter most to you.

Financial literacy – having the knowledge, skills and confidence to make responsible financial decisions throughout your life.

Global marketplace – the demand for goods or services around the world. For example, if the Canadian marketplace is strong, there is a high demand for goods and services. (E.g., there is demand for Canada's natural resources such as nickel.)

Goods – any tangible item or product that you can purchase, possess and use.

Identity theft – obtaining another's personal information such as their social insurance number, date of birth, credit card numbers, bank account information, etc., in order to defraud the victim of money.

Inflation – an increase over time in the price of goods and services.

Joint bank account – an account that is shared by two or more individuals who have equal access and responsibility for the account.

Needs – goods or services that are essential for life, such as shelter, clothing and food.

Phishing – a common online scam designed to trick you into disclosing your personal or financial information, which is used for financial fraud or identity theft. A phishing scam usually comes through an unsolicited e-mail that appears to be from a legitimate company.

PIN, personal identification number – a secret numeric password used along with a debit or credit card that allows access to an account.

Royal Canadian Mint – where Canadian coins are made under governmental control.

Service charges – fees for use of services. For example, a service charge may occur every time you use a bank machine.

Services – useful acts performed in exchange for pay.

Skimming – a credit card and debit card scam in which the processing device at the point of purchase is compromised. When the card is inserted or swiped, it is read by a magnetic strip that copies the card's information allowing the scammer to access accounts connected to the cards.

Smishing – a mobile phone text that often refers to winning a prize. The text will asks for a response or provide a "click here" link that enables downloading of malware onto the phone. The phone may then be controlled by someone else. The name comes from SMS Phishing.

Statement – a record of transactions for a bank account, credit card or investment account.

Supply and demand – driving forces in a free market; demand refers to the measurable amount of a good or service wanted, while supply refers to the measurable availability of the good or service. The relationship between the two determines price.

Wants – a desire for goods or services that are not essential for basic life. (E.g., entertainment, travel, luxury goods.)

Definitions were composed using the following resources: Barber, Katherine, ed. Canadian Oxford Dictionary. 2nd ed. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2004, investopedia.com, Soanes, Catherine, and Sara Hawker, ed. Compact Oxford English Dictionary. 3rd ed, revised. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2008.

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