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Her Money Story with Financial Literacy Leader Jane Rooney

Written by Kelley Keehn

Wednesday, June 28th, 2017

Welcome to our first in a series of money stories from fascinating Canadian women.

It's only fitting that we would start off with the money story of Jane Rooney, Financial Literacy Leader at the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada.

Jane, who was appointed Canada's Financial Literacy Leader in 2014, works to empower consumers to manage money and debt wisely, plan and save for the future and to take steps to prevent and protect against fraud and financial abuse.

Family Values

Rooney credits her parents as the financial heroes in her life who gave her the solid footing that helped shape her frugal personal spending style but admits that even she made some early money mistakes.

"We talked a lot about money. I was encouraged to work when I was young. As of the age of twelve, I started babysitting and all of my siblings took courses to become lifeguards and swim instructors."

Because she always had income, her parents ensured that it was top-of-mind for her to save before she spent.

"I think that's the theme of my upbringing. And I've taken that through right as an adult."

Learning About Decision-Making

Another key message from her parents was to pay back what you owe responsibly. Rooney took this advice to heart when buying her first car.

"I bought a brand-new car when I got my first job after university. I had saved half of the cost, and my parents lent me the other half," she recalls.

"The decision I could have made at that point was to buy a second-hand car and just use my savings. But instead, what I did was learn how to use credit and pay it back. It was a good news story in that I could pay it back in a year  — of course, a low-cost interest rate when it's from your parents made it easier. But I think it was a good opportunity to learn about decision making. I could have chosen to buy a second-hand car and I had all the money. But I went for the new one. When borrowing money, it's important to understand how to pay it back."

A Lesson Learned

Rooney laments that a big misstep early in her twenties was moving out of her parents' house too soon.

"I moved out after university and spent more time that year living at my parents' home, because I didn't like the atmosphere of living with roommates."

Jane's Advice to Her Own Sons

"Think about the cost besides rent and weigh the pros and cons. Should you wait a little longer and save more so you're in a better financial position before you step out on your own?"

Jane and the FCAC want Canadians to feel more confident about making financial decisions and are excited to introduce new online calculators that will help consumers in their decisions.

"I wish I had something like that when I was 20 because when you're able to plug in some numbers and understand the impact of saving decisions — an additional $10 a week — what will that will give you at the end of the year," Rooney says.

"Or, if you have some credit card debt and want to pay it down — how much more will you be able to pay down if you top it up a little bit? For both my sons, I point them to the financial goal calculator. Sometimes when you're talking to your children, they don't always listen to you, but pointing to something like that calculator so that they can play with it in their own time, in their own space online and can work with the numbers."

Rooney adds: "It will give them a little more confidence and give them some knowledge so they know exactly what they are able to do and harness that information and make some changes in their life."

The FCAC's services and calculators can be found here.

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