Financial Skills

How to teach children financial responsibility at an early age


For post-secondary students, dealing with tuition, student fees, living expenses and more with limited income can be very challenging. Therefore, it is important that they learn good financial skills. This can start at a young age and continue throughout their lives.

An important step in helping children be prepared to pay for post-secondary education is making them financially aware and responsible.


♦ Children may be ready for some of these steps around age 4-5.


♦ Open a bank account, many financial institutions have accounts specifically geared towards children.


♦ Give children an allowance, help them make savings goals, bring them to the bank to deposit and withdraw their money, and allow them to make decisions about using their money.


♦ Talk to children about family finances.


◊ Show them how you budget and pay your bills.


◊ Discuss financial decisions (e.g., can we afford a new TV?), financial success (e.g., regularly contributing to an RRSP), and financial difficulties (e.g., paying off debt).


◊ Talk to them about how you save money with sales, memberships and coupons and take your kids shopping with you.


♦ Talk to them about taxes: when do you file your income tax return, how you do it, what it is for and what tax credits do you benefit from?


♦ Make children media-aware:


◊ Talk to them about advertisements, consumerism, and messages that are passed on through entertainment media. Teach them to think critically about these messages.


◊ Here is a tip sheet for parents during the holiday season.


♦ For more information:


◊ See blog articles at about teaching kids about money offers information and resources to parents.


◊ Globe and Mail article (2014): Seven opening lines for talking to your children about money

◊ Read the advice of personal finance experts on 8 ways to teach your kids to be financially independent.

Developing financial responsibility in adolescence


♦ In high school, a part-time job is a great way for adolescents to get some experience handling their finances and building up their resume.


♦ Provide an allowance and/or pay them to complete larger household tasks.


♦ Have them pay for their cell phone and other purchases/bills themselves.


♦ Encourage them to start budgeting for their studies.


♦ Be open with your child about your family’s finances. Encourage them to read up on important topics such as savings and paying income tax.

How to help your child while teaching them financial responsibility


♦ Even if you are covering some or all of their expenses (e.g., cell phone, tuition fees etc.) consider having them control the payments themselves or at least be aware of how much everything costs and when it has to be paid.


♦ Talk to them about why you are contributing money to their education and what you expect from them (e.g., they are working hard to succeed, they are spending their money responsibly).


♦ Some parents may want to have their child submit a budget to them periodically to explain where their education savings are going.


♦ Encourage them to financially plan for their studies, the student portion of this website can be a helpful resource for them.


♦ Have an open dialogue about financial issues. If your child is struggling, offer them advice and direct them towards financial resources.