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Financial literacy program a good investment

11566(NC) — Although many Canadians would say they worry about money, it’s the people with low literacy skills and low incomes that are truly vulnerable to financial instability. They may have difficulty saving, use payday loans and check cashing services, and miss out on government contributions, like the invaluable RESP for their child’s education.

Money Matters, developed by the non-profit organization ABC Life Literacy Canada with the support of TD Bank Group, is a financial literacy program tailored for adults in need of these skills and is offered free in community and learning centres across the country.

Literacy practitioners set up the two-day Money Matters program for groups of adult learners. Local TD volunteer-tutors teach the workshop-format content that is realistic for low incomes. Participants develop financial literacy skills while decreasing their anxiety about banks and financial language. More than 1,000 adult learners have participated, with 200 TD volunteer-tutors contributing 2,000 hours to teach the program – and the results are good.

An analysis by the SiMPACT Strategy Group indicates that every dollar invested in Money Matters creates $3.33 in social value through benefits such as:

• Avoiding high-fee payday loans and cheque cashing outlets, saving up to $750 per participant and $81,000 across all participants.

• Improving debt management, saving $96,000 across all participants in reduced interest payments on debts paid down in a year.

• Opening and contributing to RESPs. Amounts as small as $10 create an expectation that a child will attend post-secondary education in some form.

Money Matters resources can be downloaded at www.smallchangeaddsup.ca.

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