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Sep 2, 2020

Teaching Kids About Money: Five Top Tips From Canadian Entrepreneurs

by Barbara Stewart

Barbara StewartLast year I interviewed a diverse array of Canadian entrepreneurs for The Canadian Entrepreneur Report for Echelon Wealth Partners. As part of the interviews, I had in-depth personal discussions about money, business and life learnings. My takeaways from this project confirmed my own research findings that sharing real-life stories and advice is the most effective way to impart wisdom and possibly shape the lives of generations to come.

Here are five top tips for teaching kids about money:


Get Involved In Money Transactions

Dr. Dina Kulik, Founder, Kidcrew

Kidcrew is a full-service clinic focused on wellness for children: from paediatricians, to allergists, neurologists, sport medicine doctors, and gastroenterologists.

At age three Dina told her parents that she wanted to be a doctor and at age four she told them she wanted to be a paediatrician. Starting in grade eight she volunteered at CHEO (Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario) – she loved interacting with children. What are the money lessons that she passes along to her own kids?

“Although my Dad didn’t overtly teach us about money, he taught us at an early age to observe various points of interacting with money in daily life such as how much does a lemon cost? How much is a lemon at this store versus that store. How much can you save by buying five lemons versus one lemon. I wanted to know all about the price of items and I actually felt joy when he explained to me how he had saved money because there had been a sale. I do the same kind of thing today with my own kids. We go to Costco every week and the kids pick out things they would like to have for dinner. We give them passive information about what is healthy, how much various items of food costs, and how to buy things. Then they help make dinner. They are involved in the process from point A to B, and they love to try new things.”

Get A Job…Any Job

Marshal Sterio, CEO, Surgically Clean Air

Surgically Clean Air purifiers clean and re-energize air and are sold across multiple industries including medical professionals, pro sports teams and Fortune 500 companies.

Marshal and his business partner started their company nearly a decade ago and today they have a full range of air treatment products and a recognizable brand. He said that building a business is harder than it looks and everything seems to have taken twice as long as they thought it would. The essential tip he would suggest for kids:

“I’d tell them to get a job. Any job. Walk someone’s dog or house-sit their cat. In grade seven I took jobs cutting grass and laying sod and by grade 13 I had three people working for me and we were managing 60 lawns. Having a job makes you feel responsible, it makes you thoughtful, and it is fun…especially at a young age!”

Save Half Of What You Make…Then Invest It

Derek McGeachie, Founder, Mi5 Print and Digital

Mi5 provides commercial print solutions; targeted marketing solutions; direct mail, kitting, fulfillment and distribution; and custom product development.

Derek wanted to be an entrepreneur even as a kid: he never considered working for other people. When he was in his last year of high school a friend showed him a black and white frosh kit: these calendars were distributed to first year students at North American universities. Derek immediately thought “I can do it in colour!” That is how he started his career in the print business. His best advice for talking to kids about money?

“My wife and I have three kids and we talk about business as a family. My children come to the plant and help – they love it! If I have any financial advice to give a young person it is what has helped me personally: save half of what you make…then invest it. Cash is king for entrepreneurs because you can lever that cash.”

Learn To Appreciate The Value Of Money

Steven Uster, CEO, FundThrough

FundThrough is the US and Canada’s fastest-growing cash flow solution for businesses. Business owners can instantly access funds and boost cash flow with the click of a button.

Soon after starting a traditional factoring company, Steven realized the business was very manual, involved a great deal of risk and was expensive for users. In 2014 he came up with the idea to use technology to scale the factoring business and make it widely available to anyone who invoices and waits to get paid. Today he sometimes brings his kids into the office. What does he want them to understand?

“My kids are four, six and eight. My wife and I spend a lot of time talking with them about business, investing and the value of money. We want them to understand that they can’t get everything they want right away; they need to earn it over time. We set them up with a bank account as well as a stock account (with Stockpile in the US) and they buy fractional shares in brands that they like such as Apple, Disney and Cheetos (PepsiCo.) Every second week we talk about why each stock went up or down. We show them the pennies they’ve earned in interest in their bank account to demonstrate the power of saving money. Now on their birthdays we ask them if they would prefer to have cash today or invest that money and earn a greater amount for another day in the future. My six-year-old son told me he is saving to buy a house.”

Make Enough Money To Be Happy

Tim Keenleyside, Co-Founder, Georgian Bay Spirit Company

Georgian Bay Spirit Company makes award winning Georgian Bay gin and vodka, as well as many other drink variations including Canada’s favourite cocktail-in-a-can.

After 15 years running an ad agency, in 2013 Tim’s business partner came up with the idea to develop a food/drink brand of their own: they were both gin lovers so it seemed natural to look at the spirits world. The gin market was developing globally and the craft movement was in its infancy in Ontario. Although neither of them had any experience working with spirits, they did know how to build a brand. What does Tim think is most important to talk with kids about?

“My wife and I talk with our kids about money to help give them some practical fiscal knowledge but it isn’t a focus of our daily conversations. I’m more interested in my kids’ emotional happiness. I often reflect on the question “Am I living my best life?” That is success to me. As long as I’m pushing myself somewhere, as long as I’m surrounded by people I want to be with, and as long as I’m able to exercise my creativity – I’m happy. I think that work and the financial part of success is all about getting what you need to be happy.”

Don’t worry, be happy. Sounds like great advice to me…especially for the times we are in today.


Barbara Stewart, CFA is one of the world’s leading researchers on women and finance, focusing on real life financial behaviours and providing global insights into how smart women think and communicate. Barbara is an advocate for women, for diversity, and for financial education. In addition to her Rich Thinking® research, Barbara uses her proprietary research skills to work as an Executive Interviewer on a project basis for global financial institutions seeking to gain a deeper understanding of their key stakeholders, both women and men. Barbara is a frequent interview guest on TV, radio and print, both financial and general interest. She is a contributor to the CFA Institute’s Enterprising Investor website. For more information about Barbara’s research, please see