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Online tool a snazzy little resource

Government website offers sound advice

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You probably have a good list of favourite websites and other online resources that provide you with the information you want on a regular basis. And, we can't forget there's an app for that.

However, if you're like me, you regularly discover things you wish you found a long time ago.

That happened to me this week when I found a great wealth of financial resources and information on -- of all things -- a Canadian government website.

In fairness, the federal government has some terrific websites and resources for its own programs, as do the provinces.

The one that was sent to me this week is called www.itpaystoknow.gc.ca and is run by the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada.

For example, I just used its credit-card selector tool to compare the interest rate, annual fee, travel insurance and rewards benefits for a long list of credit cards.

I confess this is an article I have wanted to write for years, but the research time was overwhelming.

Now I know I don't have to write that article. In five minutes, I was able to find out everything I wanted to know, customizing my results based on whether or not I carry a balance from month to month, whether I'm willing to pay a fee or not, and which card benefits are most important to me.

While answering these filtering questions took a few seconds, it made the results much more meaningful.

Other useful tools and calculators include help with choosing mortgage options, budgeting and selecting bank accounts.

There are also good, concise articles and commentaries on everything from payment options and money transfers to insurance and protecting yourself from fraud.

They tell it like it is with regard to things such as the cost of credit and the effect bad choices can have on consumers.

Since the website accepts no advertising from the financial industry, it can likely be more blunt and unbiased than most online resources.

There are even videos of people telling first-hand stories of success and failure in personal finance.

So, no matter what your personal learning style or level of knowledge, there's something for you.

All of the tools and articles take great advantage of web technology, allowing you to click on the topics you want or the options of most interest, so you don't have to weed through pages of verbiage to find information that interests you.

For educators and advisers, there's also a series of financial literacy-related workshops and courses that have been created, with presentation materials available for free.

One course is aimed at high school students and teachers, one for young adults and facilitators and one for adult self-learners and trainers.

Materials include lesson plans, student handouts, online modules and some video support.

I have not reviewed the resource material in great detail, but I really like the topics and issues they address.

As a financial writer and presenter, I probably shouldn't say such good things about the competition, but these courses and the other resources are quite amazing, well laid out and highly accessible.

They are a great step forward in helping move more Canadians toward financial literacy, a goal all financial advisers share.

 

David Christianson, BA, CFP, R.F.P., TEP, is a financial planner and adviser with Christianson Wealth Advisers, a vice-president with National Bank Financial Wealth Management, and author of the book Managing the Bull, A No-Nonsense Guide to Personal Finance.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 9, 2013 B7

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