Economics students focusing on financial literacy

Even though University of Regina student Taya Triffo is majoring in philosophy, politics and economics, most of her financial literacy comes from her mother.

“As I moved out on my own I was forced to dive into the real world and learn those things on my own,” said Triffo.

Triffo is participating in a new contest organized by the university’s Economics Students’ Association (ESA). The event, open to U of R students, runs over two months and provides the opportunity to trade stocks and virtual currency. Using the website Stockfuse, the competition requires participants make a minimum of five trades throughout the event. The individuals with the largest portfolios have a chance to win cash prizes ranging from $50 to $200.

Triffo hopes the competition will make her more comfortable with the stock market.

“Honestly I don’t really care about winning, for me it’s just about gaining those skills a bit more … and not being scared of investing.”

Matthew Boehm, vice president of academics for ESA, said he had “virtually zero” exposure to financial education prior to university. He believes the event will help youth learn the basics of investing.

“It’s a way to get introduced to the investing environment without the added risk,” said Boehm.

Stacy Yanchuk Oleksy said Triffo and Boehm are not alone. Yanchuk Oleksy, director of education for the Credit Counselling Society, said financial literacy education is lacking in Canada and every dollar a youth is paying towards their debt is a dollar that’s not going towards their savings.

Yanchuk Oleksy suggested mandatory money management courses in school, from counting coins in kindergarten to learning investing techniques in post-secondary. She also said our societal disdain for discussing money poses a challenge.

“We tend to think of money as a last taboo where we’re prepared to talk about almost anything else,” said Yanchuk Oleksy. “If we’re uncomfortable with talking about money, it gets uncomfortable to teach it.”

Yanchuk Oleksy believes that a stock trading competition is a good idea. She said events like this introduce fun and competition, while hopefully also teaching essential financial skills.

“By opening up the closet door and putting the light on to money we can reduce the shame and embarrassment around it,” said Yanchuk Oleksy. “So [youth] can make good decisions for today and that will impact their future positively as well.”

Those interested in participating can apply through the ESA’s Facebook page by midnight Oct. 14.

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