November 1st marked the official launch of Canada’s third annual Financial Literacy Month (FLM). Financial literacy means having the knowledge, skills and confidence to make responsible financial decisions. This year’s FLM puts the focus on learning or brushing up on the basics of money management at any age.

As a not-for profit organization offering free credit counselling, Family Service PEI meets people of all ages who are looking to improve their financial literacy.Being financially responsible is something that continues throughout the lifespan. However, this task is proving to be difficult in today’s consumer driven society. Family Service PEI believes the difficulty can be partially attributed to the accessibility of credit and the relative lack of available information about the consequences of misusing credit.

The average level of personal debt in Canada rose 21 per cent this year to $15,910, according to a survey done this August for Royal Bank of Canada. The third annual RBC debt poll only measures non-mortgage debt such as credit cards, lines of credit and loans.

Family Service PEI’s statistics from the past year indicate the average amount owing on all consumer debt for new clients is $29,899. This does not include mortgages, vehicle loans, student loans, or any other secured debt. They estimate that 90 percent of clients coming through the door are doing so because they are in financial crisis. “Many clients do not have the skill set to identify how to live within their means, or identify the warning signs that they are headed for crisis,” says Denise Lockhart, Executive Director of Family Service PEI.

Reaching out for help is a step in the right direction. If any of the following applies to you, it may be time to take that step:

–       You do not have a budget

–       You do not know where your money is going

–       You are frequently using credit

–       You do not have money left at the end of the month

Family Service PEI is a not-for-profit agency providing free Credit Counselling to all Islanders, helping people to examine all options for decreasing debt, including an analysis of lifestyle and spending habits in order to help people understand the warning signs that a financial crisis may be looming. Additionally, Family Service PEI provides affordable and effective Therapeutic Counselling services to Islanders as financial stress impacts many other areas of a person’s life.

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For more information on this subject, or to schedule and interview, please contact Denise Lockhart – Executive Director, Family Service PEI at 1-902-892-2441 or via email: