Ellen Roseman Blog

Musings from my financial literacy workshop

The Chang School at Ryerson University ran some newspaper ads, attracting 100 people to my free seminar last week. Everyone was eager to learn and share tips, including a dedicated few who kept talking and arguing outside later on.

The course is designed to reach a 20-to-35-year-old group by my partners in this venture (the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada and the Investor Education Fund). But many are older.

Beth Kaplan, a friend at the event, mentioned her surprise at seeing a middle-aged audience here in her blog. She also made the brave admission that saving and investing are hard for her, even as she nears her 60th birthday.

Many questions were about credit scores (how to get access to them and how to raise them) and credit card rewards (who has the best deals). I also remember talking about exchange-traded funds and why they’re a good idea for beginning investors.

Did you know you can get a credit card that doesn’t charge interest? One man said he’d borrowed $20,000 on his MBNA credit card at zero per cent interest, using $10,000 for his mortgage and $10,000 to open tax-free savings accounts for him and his wife.

He said he was paying the minimum each month and saving enough to pay off his debt when the 16-month offer ended. But several people told him to set up online transfers to his credit card, so he’d never miss a due date.

Someone asked if I’d list all the personal finance books I brought with me, so here goes. I had Gail Vaz-Oxlade’s book on debt, Rob Carrick’s book on investing, and two titles for women readers (by Chatelaine and the Smart Cookies), all reviewed here.

Also had a few that focused on frugality that I’ve written about here by Marjorie Harris, Adria Vasil and Rosalyn Hoffman.

For home buyers or sellers, I recommend Toronto lawyer Mark Weisleder’s book, Put The Pen Down. And for those who want to avoid making mistakes in their tax-free savings accounts, there’s The Ultimate TFSA Guide by Gordon Pape.

Finally, I had a few books about making money and not wasting money: Stop Acting Rich by Tom Stanley, I Will Teach You to Be Rich by Ramit Sethi and Following The Goods by Adam Goodman.

The next session will be held on Oct. 20, 5.30 to 9.30 p.m. at the Chang School. So please try to come and send others my way.