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The ABCs of finance: How this Ontario teacher is preparing her students for the real world

The ABCs of finance: How this Ontario teacher is preparing her students for the real world

The ABCs of finance: How this Ontario teacher is preparing her students for the real world

When you were in high school, did you learn about leasing a car, the pitfalls of payday loans, or how best to invest your money?

Amy Smith certainly didn’t, and that’s why now, as a math teacher at College Avenue Secondary School in Woodstock, Ont., she’s invited various professionals with financial know-how — including a realtor, a mortgage broker, a financial adviser and a car sales rep — to speak to her students.

“I realized I didn’t learn this,” Smith said. “I don’t want my students to have that mindset like, ‘Oh, I’m signing a paper, but I really don’t understand what I’m signing for.'”

Smith has been teaching her students about compound interest, investing and credit scores, with the help of community experts. She’s been focusing on buying and leasing cars with her Grade 9 students.

“I know when I was younger, I had no idea about leasing and owning a car,” Smith said. “I had questions like, ‘Why would I want biweekly payments instead of monthly payments?'”

Among other things, students learned about mortgages, investing and tenant rights. (Submitted by Amy Smith)

Next week a car sales representative will be spending some time with her students to walk them through the ins and outs of car ownership.

Smith, who began teaching in 2012 and is wrapping up her first year at the high school, has also worked with her students researching tenant rights, and she assigned them to interview tenants and landlords about their experiences.

Never too early to save

Smith’s Grade 12 students have been learning about renting versus home ownership. Despite the hot housing market, she believes her students can still find a way into the market after they graduate, as long as they start saving now.

“It takes a lot of time and budgeting,” she said.

Trish Catton, a Realtor from London, Ont., spoke to Smith’s Grade 12 class this week.

Trish Catton, a Realtor based in London, Ont., spoke to Smith’s Grade 12 students about the ins and outs of buying a home. (Lindsey Piette/Angelic Images Photography)

“I just brought it down to basics,” she said, noting that they talked about down payments, inflation and equity, and plotted out buying a home through various case scenarios.

“There was one kid, he was so cute, he wants to be an investor,” Catton said. “He wants to own his first home by 23 and then purchase one a year.” Catton said she gave the student a copy of The Millionaire Real Estate Investor by Gary Keller.

“Whatever we can do for our kids above and beyond the curriculum is so advantageous and awesome,” she said.

“They’re great into it,” said Smith. who is proud that her students now understand the difference between a good credit score and a bad one.

“They know who can get a mortgage and who can’t get a mortgage,” she said.

“I’m super excited to see where these kids are going to go and … if it makes them even more financially stable than others.”

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