Local students learn financial planning basics starting in first grade

WELLINGTON COUNTY – Inflation and the rising cost of living are causing increased financial stress for many and raising concerns about how young people will deal with these matters now and into the future.

Students with both the Upper Grand District School Board (UGDSB) and the Wellington Catholic District School Board (WCDSB) start learning the foundations of financial planning in first grade. 


“Students learn to recognize Canadian money” in Grade 1, stated UGDSB officials in an email to the Advertiser. They then learn to:

– identify different ways to represent the same amount of money and calculate the change for simple transactions; 

– determine if an item is a reasonable price;

– understand e-transfers and cheques; 

– use mental math to calculate change; 

– determine the best value for an item; and  

– prepare basic budgets, and investigate credit and debt.

Next, UGDSB students are taught about setting financial goals. They study “interest rates and bank fees, trading, lending, borrowing and donating.

“They then learn about international currencies and build their knowledge of how interest rates and borrowing can affect savings and investments,” officials stated.

Grade 8 students learn to “create a plan to reach financial goals and maintain balanced budgets including reward programs and sales. With the use of technology, they can look at the effects of simple and compound interest.”

Grade 9 students “learn to manage finances by working with budgets and understanding depreciation and appreciation of assets. They learn how math can be applied to make informed decisions in different financial situations, and go through scenarios of how things like interest rates and down payments impact purchasing decisions.”  

Grade 10 students learn “financial management, budgeting, bill paying, using credit responsibly and options to pay for postsecondary education” in careers class. 

To supplement this learning, UGDSB secondary schools often invite guests from the community “to talk about aspects of financial management.

“Financial literacy would also be included in some of the life skills classrooms as well as hospitality courses where schools run cafés, etcetera,” UGDSB program and curriculum coordinators wrote in an email.  


Catholic board students also “learn about financial planning in all levels,” stated WCDSB spokesperson Ali Wilson in an email to the Advertiser.  

Students in Grades 1, 2 and 3 “learn to identify money amounts and estimate and calculate change required for simple transactions.”

Students in Grades 4, 5 and 6 “learn about the pros and cons of different types of payments. They also learn about credit, spending, borrowing, investing, etcetera, and are required to design budgets and plans for saving for specific goals.”

Students in Grades 7 and 8 “learn about exchange rates, interest rates, loyalty programs, etcetera. They are also required to design a plan for reaching long term goals, and to identify ways they can track spending and maintain a balanced budget.”

In WCDSB high schools, “students build their financial literacy by learning to manage finances, such as working with budgets and understanding appreciation and depreciation of assets, analyze various financial situations and learn how math can be applied to make informed decisions (for example, understanding shifts in the stock market) and examine how interest rates, down payments, and other factors impact purchasing decisions.”

In Grade 11, they learn about personal finance topics, “the mathematics behind investment and interest, or saving, investing and borrowing, depending which math course they take.” 

“As well, schools do invite guest speakers in to speak with students about various topics, most recently, St. James CHS welcomed a local banker to discuss financial literacy, opening bank accounts and credit.”