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Financial Literacy

Money Management: Q&A with Dragons’ Den’s Wes Hall

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wes hall dragons den


Why is financial literacy important for young Canadians?

Managing money is one of the most important lessons a young person can learn. You speak to any rich families and that is the first lesson they teach their children. Financial literacy pops up in all aspects of our lives very early. From how much to pay for a game, is it wise to spend money on popular video game sites without any tangible returns, and what do you do with that money you made selling lemonade? Do you put it in a piggy bank or do you invest it in a financial instrument that can allow that money to grow?


What’s something you wish you told your younger self when it comes to money management?

I wish I had learned early the importance of saving and investing. Saving is not just about putting money in the bank but how do you make that money work to your benefit? I recall in my younger years I would spend every cent I earned as it came in. But in my early twenties, I realized that the value of building equity was far greater than that of mindlessly spending. So, I worked twice as hard to save so that I could invest – eventually going on to purchase my first house. I quickly learned that renting was not making me any money. As a result of home ownership, the equity that eventually built up into my then house allowed me to be a better contender for a sizeable loan. This same loan that I took out against my family home allowed me to start a business which continued to build value for me.

Leverage is something that I wish I had known when I was younger. The key (I now know) is to learn how using other people’s money, in particular a bank, can and will build your own wealth. But to do that you must have something to give them as collateral (something to give them as value to hold in case you run into trouble and cannot repay the debt). If we have no asset to use as collateral to obtain leverage, getting a neighbour or adult with excellent credit to guarantee the debt for you could also work.  Therefore, it’s important to show good work ethic and attitude early because you never know who could help you based solely on your conduct or work ethic.


Why is it important for Canadians to invest in their wealth?

Wealth provides certain freedom in life. It is not just about driving a nice car or living in a nice neighbourhood. Wealth allows you the flexibility to tackle important social issues through philanthropy whether that be education, health care or racial justice. Let’s say you are from an under-served neighbourhood, you can then use your wealth to help others in that neighbourhood escape poverty. If you came from poverty, it’s important that you return and help as many people as possible. Wealth allows you to pay that forward.


What are your top money management tips for new businesses?

Watch the Bottomline. In translation – watch how much money you earn versus how much you spend. Many business owners focus on the money they bring in (revenue) which is fine to an extent, however, though you may be doing a good job bringing money in, only governments can spend more money than they make and stay in business. Do not overspend on anything. I see the same mistakes by new business owners repeatedly – they tend to spend too much on rent or leasehold improvements on their office or space to look trendy. I wish business owners knew that flashy renovations can come after you are profitable, and after you have proven yourself.

Every dollar you spend earlier on in starting your business must be spent very wisely and methodically. Ask yourself, is this spend necessary? How will it advance my business? Is there a cheaper or more effective alternative?

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