The Ontario Securities Commission has created an extremely useful website for all Canadians, called GetSmarterAboutMoney.ca.
I would venture to say that this website, by itself, is a reason for Canadians who don’t use computers to start learning how. The information is for all ages (and not confined to Ontarians), with a focus on financial literacy and financial planning.
If you don’t have a computer, the best place to go to look at this website is probably a local library. Ask a staff member for assistance.
Let’s go through the highlights.
Start with the home page
The cover (or home) page of this website offers a lot of significant information:
1. Whether to buy or rent a home;
2. Whether you can afford a bigger home (a mortgage calculator tool is also available to help you determine what larger mortgage payment you can afford);
3. “The Cranial Cash Clash,” a series of games that help educate users about several financial topics (one of the options, which is called Family Financial Face-Off, is a computer generated series of questions about various issues related to saving and spending);
4. A University cost calculator, to help families save for their children’s university costs;
5. A large section on planning for retirement, with videos, articles and other information to help on this most significant of financial topics we all think about at various times in our lives.
The website has a section on the research of the Investor Education Fund, and on independent research on various important topics, such as:
1. Findings on the habits and needs of Canadians related to personal finance, money management and investing;
2. Home equity as a source of retirement income;
3. A poll on Canadians’ obstacles to saving and investing;
4. Youth financial literacy;
5. Who is (and who isn’t) financial planning for their future;
6. Top Advisor sources of information for older Canadians;
7. Financial fraud;
8. Gaps in investor knowledge.
This section is great because of the range of topics covered. From RRSPs and bank accounts to bonds and ETFs (exchange-traded funds), almost all of the well known and popular products are explained in a lot of detail. A very useful section.
This extensive section ranges from why you should plan, to choosing an advisor, to everything in-between. There is a lot of reading available here, and the section explains very well why and how you should go about planning.
One of the more creative sections on the website, this one discusses the implications of events such as buying a car (the how’s and why’s), caring for a loved one and how to plan and organize that, getting an education, inheriting money, losing a job and so on.
What this section does is bring together, in a clever, thorough way, what to think about and how to plan for the various aspects of our lives as we age. This is a well thought out section and worth spending a lot of time with.
There is a lot of information about financial advisors. This is important because everyone can use a good advisor, but everyone needs to know how to find a good one!
As good as this website is, choosing and getting an advisor is, in my opinion, probably the most significant step anyone can take in contemplating, planning and investing for the future.
However, this website is very wide in its scope, and seems to cover all the topics and issues related to your financial life in Canada. I would recommend taking time to look at it, and coming back to it regularly to read the updates and get information on any financial topic you need in your own effort to become more financially knowledgeable.
This column appeared in the Richmond News on August 30, 2013.