If Gail Vaz-Oxlade was calling the shots as an public school educator for teens about to graduate, she'd make sure every high school in Canada had a mandatory course in financial planning.
Early intervention in a Grade 12 classroom is a better alternative to the school of hard knocks. The star of Slice network's Til Debt Do Us Part is convinced a curriculum change would help Canadians avoid calamity and find financial freedom faster.
"I would eliminate careers planning and make it financial planning," said Vaz-Oxlade, who brought her entertaining money management roadshow to Vanier Hall Saturday afternoon.
"Every child I've ever seen that goes with the careers program thinks it's a bird course that's too soft, and it's too early for them. It's the only required course I think you could push out of the way to put financial education in, so everybody gets it."
There were more than a few folks in the sellout crowd of 782 at the nearly two-hour show wishing they had somebody like Vaz-Oxlade to teach them the basics about making budgets, forcing yourself to save money, and living within your means.
The theme of the afternoon was the 10 biggest mistakes people make with personal finances and Vaz-Oxlade touched on them, blending the cold hard truth with humourous anecdotes that had people rolling in the aisles. Her reasons for setting money aside in an emergency account, which she refers to as the F.U. account, were brutally honest.
"Cars break, houses develop plumbing problems, and partners drop your fat ass and go after a thinner ass," she said. "Your money is your responsibility and if you take responsibility and you have a schedule, you have a plan and you're in charge, you'll sleep better."
The biggest mistake people make, according to Vaz-Oxlade, is not having a system to track their money. Because of that, they don't learn how to prioritize spending (the No. 2 mistake), they don't know how much they're spending, they spend more money than they earn and they don't save enough. It all adds up to a recipe for disaster.
Murray Mooney, 52, was taking notes notes and left satisfied he and his wife are already sticking to Vaz-Oxlade's budget plan and have adopted her savings account advice.
"What we all have to realize is we have to spend within our means and not overspend and that's the biggest thing people do, trying to keep up with the Joneses," said Mooney. "We don't have to do that to have a happy life."
Vaz-Oxlade's website debtfreeforever.ca has a link to a wedding planner. The thrice-married Vaz-Oxlade offered her own advice.
"Please do not marry a money moron, they are huge mistakes," she said. "I don't care how they are as people, if they won't pay attention to the money and it's important to you, they don't love you that much."
-- For the full story, see Tuesday's Citizen.