M is for Money – A Kid’s Guide to Financial Literacy

By Mark Borkowski

The first all-Canadian book series on financial literacy for children ages 5-9 with author Teresa Cascioli (TC).

Cascioli is a commerce graduate from McMaster University in Ontario. As the former CEO of Lakeport Brewing she took the company from bankruptcy to a $201 million sale to Labatt in just eight years.

Cascioli has led one of Canada’s most successful income trust public offerings. As an award-winning entrepreneur she has been featured on Profit and Chatelaine Magazine’s lists of Canada’s most successful women and has been named one of the Women’s Executive Network Top 100 Canada’s Most Powerful Women. She was awarded Entrepreneur of the Year by Canada’s Venture Capital & Private Equity Association as well as by Ernst & Young in their Turnaround Category and was inducted in the Sales Hall of Fame by the Canadian Professional Sales Association. In 2012, Cascioli was awarded the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal.

Q&A

Can you give us a little bit of information about your background – education, experience?
TC: I have a Bachelor of Commerce degree from McMaster University and was employed in several senior finance roles after graduating. I was appointed as the CEO of Lakeport Brewing, when it was a bankrupt manufacturing facility that employed some 200 people. I turned it around, took it public on the TSX and later sold it to one of my major competitors for $201 million. That took a lot of hard work, dedication and a true understanding of money – earning it, using it and creating value from it. After the sale, I was a Strategic Advisor for the purchaser and following that for a large multi-national accounting firm. Today, in addition to writing, I am a motivational speaker.

What was your childhood like?
TC: I grew up in Hamilton, Ontario in the ‘60s to immigrant parents who, like many at that time, struggled to make a new life in Canada. I was taught the value of money as a child. My parents talked about saving money and about paying bills. I knew from what I heard and their actions that money was important, necessary and was to be respected. Those conversations and witnessing my parents’ save, work hard, budget and exercise solid money principals, affected me positively throughout my life.

Why did you write on the topic of money for kids 5-9?
TC: I think that financial literacy at a very young age leaves lasting impressions. Financial literacy is just as important as reading and writing. Also, children at this age have their first encounters with money. Whether it’s through an allowance, a gift or simply by shopping with their parents, they see money in action. With the growth of consumer debt in Canada, it is my hope that this book series will help parents and teachers start important money conversations.

In the books you refer to loonies and toonies and we understand the books were printed in Canada?
TC: It is important for Canadian children to first learn about their own currency. I was born in Canada and remain true to my native country. The books were printed in Canada. All of the service providers (printer, illustrator, web designer) are all Canadian.

Can you tell us more about the main characters Tessa & Benji?
TC: Tessa and Benji are fictitious twins and are seven when our story begins. The stories are told by Tessa. She is a smart little girl with an inquisitive mind who collaborates with her brother as they learn basic money concepts from their parents. Tessa and Benji belong in a community of neighbours and extended family who also appear in the books.

Can you tell us about the entire book series?
TC: There are nine books in the series. The first three books introduce basic money concepts. What is money? What are loonies and toonies? What are a bank and a bank account? The next three books continue with topics such as budgeting, taking out a loan, finding money and even flipping a coin. The final three books discuss paying back a loan as well as giving back by way of charity.

Have you developed a website for your book series?
YTC: es – www.misformoney.ca is easy to use and kid friendly. The books are available in soft cover, hard cover and interactive format where children can play money games on line. Many items are available on the website for free such as teacher’s guides. There is also fun money merchandise that can be purchased.

Mark Borkowski is president of Mercantile Mergers & Acquisitions Corp. Mercantile is a company that specializes in the sale of mid-market companies. www.mercantilemergersacquisitions.com

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