Experience it: Financial literacy for kids

ABC Life Literacy Canada is happy to share this article on financial literacy tips for kids written by Carlie Weinreb. Carlie is a 9-year-old financial whiz who can do income taxes and has delivered guest lectures at the University of Toronto. See if you can use any of her tips with your family during November’s Financial Literacy Month!

ABC believes that financial literacy is important at any age and we empower adult learners from our Money Matters program to speak about finances with their children. Find tips and activities about how parents and kids can talk about money together from this workbook at ABCMoneyMatters.ca.


How did I learn my financial literacy? Mostly by "true repeated experiences that I love." 

I love Fridays. I love going to the bank. I love going to Dollar Tree. Here are a few real life examples.

Today is Friday. I get paid today for my weekly chores. My gross pay is $5.00 per week. I only get $4.00 each time. For the first 3 weeks I kept asking my father why I only receive $4.00. He told me that 20% of my gross pay goes to the Government for income taxes

My net pay each week is only $4.00. After a few weeks I understood it very well. When I turn 10 my gross pay will go up to $8.00 but I will only receive $6.00 because my income tax rate goes up to 25%.

I opened my bank account when I was 3 years old. I remember we had to sit down at the bank and I had to spell my name. Whenever I receive my allowance in coins I stand in line at the teller while my father sits back in the chairs watching me do it all alone. If I have dollar bills I go to the bank machine by myself.

We go to the U.S. at least once a year. I like to take spending money. I go to the bank teller each time and I tell them I would like say $5.00US, but I have to pay six or seven dollars. I learned U.S. money is so expensive. My father told me when you buy U.S. money your money is discounted. I learned that I hate my money being discounted. One great thing is when I come back from Buffalo with $2.00US, for example, I go to the teller to deposit it in my account. They give me $ 2.60 back. I get so excited. They give me "more.” My father said they are giving you a premium. I love when I get a premium on my money. 

Tomorrow is Saturday. We will be going to Dollar Tree. I love Dollar Tree. This is my favourite store. We go at least twice a week. I have been going since I was three years old. My father loves it because he turns it into a math or financial literacy game. He makes me add up all the prices in my head before I get to the cashier. If I calculate it correctly I get a 50 cent bonus. If I calculate the sales tax correctly I get another bonus of 50 cents. Sales tax is mostly just multiples of thirteen. I always have to decide if I will use my debit card or cash. All stores round to the nearest 5 cents if you pay cash. If my total after tax comes out for example to be $3.73 they will round it up to $3.75 if I pay cash. If I use debit they will only take $3.73 from my account so I would use debit. If my total after tax comes out for example to be $3.72 they will round it down to $3.70 if I pay cash so it’s better to pay cash in this example. Because I am under 18 years old my bank doesn't charge me each time I use my debit card. 

Some stores we go to tell us they don't accept anything other than cash. My father rarely has cash with him. I always carry spending money with me. I always tell him I’ll pay but he has to pay me back. I give him one day to pay me or I charge interest. I love charging interest. Sometimes I don't have enough cash when I want to buy something. My father lends me the money but he charges me interest. I hate when he charges me interest. 

The key to learning and easily absorbing is to turn these into experiences rather than following a book. 

By Carlie Weinreb 


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