Students at West Ferris Secondary were fortunate to be enlightened with knowledge that precious few gain in the current modern high school education system Friday.
The Near North District School Boards' Student Senate wanted to help their classmates learn to become more financially responsible, so they arranged for students to hear from an expert.
On Friday afternoon, financial literacy guru and entrepreneur Kevin Cochran was on hand, presenting his video program, entitled 'enRICHed Academy', to senior area students.
The EnRICHed program focuses on avoiding credit card debt, making financial investments and setting obtainable long and short term goals in order to plan for a successful future.
The program was presented on Canada's 'Dragon's Den' and was one of those chosen to be invested in by not one, but four of the Dragons, helping launch the education curriculum across Canada and the U.S for a cut of the royalties.
The purpose of the program is to illuminate and enhance student’s knowledge of all things financial in order to help them gain a clearer picture in what's involved in investing in them and in their communities.
Cochran, who became an expert on the subject based upon his own financial 'hard knocks', says the program picks up the slack of a standardized educational system and teaches students to save their money, which is half the battle in getting oneself educated and into a career of their choosing.
“I think that a lot of parents and students believe that as long as they have good marks, they'll be ready for university or college or even a career and that's just not the case,” says Cochran.
“You have to learn about money” he says, adding that he doesn't think that the government has done a good enough job with regards to educating teens, young adults about how to invest and to save money.
“Kids are more interested in money than in Shakespeare; I can promise you that,” Cochran says.
Citing statistical data which shows that 78 percent of NFL players are broke or file for bankruptcy due to financial strain after only two years following their retirement, Cochran hopes to get young people into a mindset where they understand that they have to earn money, save money and even give money away to charity in order to maintain and gain any long term wealth.
“I think that parents believe that as long as my kid is making money, they'll always figure out a way to get out of a financial crisis and that's just not true,” he says.
“If they don't know how to save ten dollars out of a hundred, giving them more money is not going to help them get themselves out of debt,” he adds.
With 6 out of 10 families living paycheck to paycheck in Canada, Cochran says he can't understand why people wouldn't add at least one hour to the forty that is spent working during the week in order to create some knowledge, plans, and savings for the future.
“To me, that's just insane,” he says.
Speaking in front of over 100,000 adults during his career, Cochran says that one of his favourite questions is to ask how long can one last without going into debt if their income was to end today, saying that many would look at their watch and answer “mere hours”.
He says that most people are not in debt because of the income they make; it's because of the income that they spend, and the key to avoiding debt is by understanding the relationships between people and living within their financial means, something that is rarely talked about with their children.
“The reason why most kids can't save money is because their parents can't save money,” he explains.
Cochran sums up his message by saying that just because you have a dollar, it doesn't mean that you should spend every cent of it and just because you can get a credit card, doesn't mean that you should.
“If you know how to make money but don't save and invest it, you will work until the day you die, he says.
So far, 15 school boards that Cochran has presented to have taken an interest in the approach to change old school financial literacy into a newer, more dynamic understanding of what money is about because, when you frame it in the right context, many young people find it to be a very interesting topic.
Regan Jackson, Student Trustee for the Near North District School Board, helped bring the presentation to local senior students, giving them a solid foundation as they head off into various educational and career paths.
Jackson says that she hopes the program would turn financial knowledge into a life skill that is learned inside the classroom instead of finding out the hard way and assist in avoiding the pitfalls that can bring young people's education plans and futures into peril.
“This is something that we all learn eventually,” says Jackson, “but we're hoping that maybe our students will learn it through the curriculum instead of going out into the world and being in debt for the rest of their lives.”