Too many Canadians are reaching adulthood without the skills to successfully manage their financial futures, according to personal finance coach David Lester.

The best way he sees to build that knowledge is for parents to start schooling their kids about money as early as possible.

“Everybody asks the same question, or they say the same thing, ‘I wish I learned this in school,’” Lester told CTV’s Your Morning on Tuesday. “I think it is important that we integrate a financial program right from the get go.”

Canada’s 2016-2018 National Research Plan for Financial Literacy shows that less than half of Canadians have a household budget, debt-to-disposable income ratios continue to climb, and the personal savings rate has dropped from nearly 20 per cent of disposable income in 1982 to just under five per cent in 2016.

Meanwhile, the report suggests financial products and services are becoming increasingly complex.

For kindergarten-age children:

Lester said building financial literacy can start as early as kindergarten through books, toys, and familiarizing children with Canadian currency.

“I used to play banker. I used to roll coins,” he said. “Take your kid to the bank. Let them sit with you. Get them to play with money and realize it’s not a strange thing.”

Lester said The Berenstain Bears’ Trouble with Money book is great place to start for young children.

For Grade Two-age children:

Lester said this is the right age to introduce concepts such as budgeting and long-term savings.

He recommends teaching children how to budget an allowance, playing financial board games like Monopoly with them, and talking about how interest in a Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP) can compound to bankroll their post-secondary years, for example.

Lester also said that letting children at this age pitch in at a family garage sale, for example, would be another way to teach them about the value of money and how cash transactions work.

For high school-age children:

Lester said if students are able to wrap their heads around calculus and biology, they are more than capable of understanding basic investment principals.

He said this is a good time to connect them with an investment adviser to begin building a portfolio, and discuss how to navigate post-secondary education without building up a mass of debt.

“Look and see how much money they need to save for university, how their RESP is doing, and say if I’m saving this much money, there is actually a connection between savings and how much debt I’ll have later,” Lester said.