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Customizing financial education for the people you serve

1 November 2017
Author: Tara Popovic
Tailoring financial education content for target populations can help reduce barriers to accessing financial information. Following up on my previous blog about customizing financial education for youth and Aboriginal peoples, here's what Prosper Canada has to say about customizing for people living with disabilities, newcomers to Canada, and people living on low incomes.
People living with disabilities 
Living with a disability or the onset of chronic illness is often accompanied by economic challenges for the individual and their families. With frequent disruptions to their income, many individuals living with a disability find it difficult to manage their finances and plan for the future. Support with budgeting, savings and access to government benefits can aid in smoothing over the volatility of their incomes and help individuals build more confidence to plan for the future. 
Many individuals living with a disability seek out second-hand advice from people within their personal network because they feel the advice they receive from financial institutions is inappropriate for their situation. Although there are some financial supports available to fully support individuals with disabilities, it is important for all sectors to create more empowering approaches to accessing financial information and break down the barriers they often experience. 
Newcomers to Canada 
When newcomers arrive to Canada they are faced with making complex financial decisions about their financial well-being while they learn to successfully navigate Canada’s legal, financial and tax systems. Newcomers face a variety of linguistic, cultural and accessibility barriers as they try to access information and services. Newcomers to Canada are more skilled and educated than ever, but countless of these individuals experience a longer hiring process and lower salaries compared to their Canadian-born counterparts due to the lack of foreign credential recognition. Newcomers also experience language barriers in initial employment application processes and when approaching financial institutions for information and services. 
By establishing programs and services that connect with newcomers in their early settlement years, they can act as key touch points that are adapted to the newcomers’ life context and the challenges they face. Financial education supports are key elements within a broader spectrum of services aimed to help build the financial well-being of newcomers to Canada. 

People living on low incomes 
Many Canadians experience persistent low income due to barriers such as lower levels of education, lower literacy and numeracy skills, and unstable or low-wage employment. Contrary to popular perception, individuals living on a low income have significant financial skills and are more likely to budget because they need to make the most out of their incomes. However, it is difficult to balance obligations, such as childcare, work and paying bills. As a result, many people living on low incomes neglect to plan for their futures in order to meet their day-to-day needs. People living with low incomes also face challenges accessing financial information and advice that is relevant to their needs and circumstances. Financial services are generally designed for middle-and-high-income Canadians, which leaves low-income individuals finding that financial education and advice is ill-suited and irrelevant. 
Demographic factors (age, gender, marital status, etc.), geography, education and literacy levels, employment status and life stages all need to be considered when creating financial information and advice. Coupling tailored financial information with proper support can help individuals overcome the feeling of isolation and begin exploring ways to address financial barriers. Financial literacy initiatives can bridge the gap by helping people to compare, evaluate, and access appropriate banking products and services, and support financial institutions to better understand the diverse needs and challenges faced by people living on low incomes.

Learn more about the financial literacy needs of people living with disabilitiesnewcomers to Canada, and people living on low incomes.

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Tara Popovic is a former Intern for the Marketing and Communications department at Prosper Canada. She is passionate about public outreach, community engagement and learning about the newest trends in the industry. Tara is a current student in the Bachelor of Public Relations program at Humber College.

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