There’s no such thing as a free lunch

June 15 2012 by Ellen Roseman

The expression refers to American bars offering a free lunch to entice drinking customers in the 19th century. Economist Milton Friedman used it as the title of a 1975 book.

A free lunch usually has strings attached. But that’s not the case with my free personal finance seminar in Toronto, which offers free coffee, tea and cookies (oatmeal raisin and chocolate chip).

I’ve led this Financial Basics workshop at Ryerson University’s Chang School for a few years. The cost is underwritten by Ryerson and two government agencies, FCAC and IEF.

When I say there are no strings attached, I mean it. Most financial seminars are sponsored by salespeople who hope to get your personal information and flog their services.

“Free” real estate seminars fall into a special categpory of sleaze, says Moneyville writer Mark Weisleder.

This workshop is different. No one takes your name or tries to sell you anything. You can come and go without being harassed.

My goal as an instructor is to explain, answer questions, encourage saving and change behaviour. I hope you will be motivated to try a few new things in your daily life.

Gervan Fearon, Dean of the Chang School, subsidizes the seminar as a service to the community. He’s helping to transform it into a series of videos, underwritten by Ryerson and the FCAC.

So, if you can, please come to the 7th floor auditorium at 297 Victoria St. in Toronto (east of Yonge St. and north of Dundas St.) on Tuesday, June 19, from 5.30 to 9.30 p.m. Bring a spouse, friend or family member.

I’ll raffle off a few copies of The Wealthy Barber Returns by David Chilton (another freebie).

And if you want a meatier course, check out my Investing For Beginners class at University of Toronto. It starts on Sept. 13 and costs $325 for nine sessions.

4 comments

  1. Genevieve Tran

    Jun 15 2012

    Dear Ms. Roseman, I RSVP’d to come to learn from your workshop!

    I’m excited to redeem my remediaI understanding of finance, despite being a business undergrad and despite having an Asian mom!

    I started a financial literacy blog this year, http://moneybigandsmall.wordpress.com, and I spoke about how I tried to teach this conspicuously missing piece of life curriculum in my elementary class(es) at TEDx Tokyo and for the TED 2013 Global Auditions, also in Japan.

    I plan to bang a pan about this issue. I can’t believe we are as financially illiterate as we are in the developed world.

  2. Ellen Roseman

    Jun 23 2012

    Promod Sharma, an actuary, blogger and financial literacy fan, came to the seminar and said hello.

    I saw on Twitter that he wrote a blog post about the workshop, http://blog.riscario.com/2012/06/ellen-roseman-makes-financial-basics.html

    Thanks, Promod, great to meet you at last. You’re right that changing behaviour takes effort and constant reinforcement.

    The Weight Watchers approach can work for financial fitness.

    Five young women from Vancouver, known as The Smart Cookies, fixed their own problems with debt and managing their money.

    They now offer a free guide to others who want to start a money group, http://smartcookies.com/money-groups/

    Also want to mention Ellen’s Investment Club, an offshoot of my classes in investing at University of Toronto. It’s a group of 15 to 20 people who meet monthly to share ideas. (Check the link on the right hand side of this page.)

  3. W. Robson

    Jun 25 2012

    Ellen:
    Just missed it, but am hoping a friend who was a member of a dissolved Investment Club will come to the next one.

    Almost ready for Twitter (been bush monitoring data, etc). I thought you might be interested in knowing that your Financial Literacy panel from the Commission on Fin Literacy (?) last year has been effective. They are actually offering courses in it as part of retraining for all at UI locally.

    Your work is paying off with the 99 per centers, and the rest of us are feeling invested in our own financial literacy (e.g. negotiating mortgage and questioning, calculating prepayments, payouts, etc, TFSA implications.

    Who knew that an RRSP could be part of the TFSA? Sorry we missed the oatmeal raisin; instead was watching construction at Yorkdale 401. Thanks again for.. W R

  4. Liquid

    Jun 28 2012

    Toronto’s a bit from where I live, Vancouver. Would love to go though. Maybe some other time when you have a seminar on the west coast 🙂