It warms my heart to announce that Credit Canada and Capital One - along with other Credit Education Week Canada (CEWC) sponsors and participants - presented scholarships to a bevy of talented high school essayists at this year’s Credit Education Week Canada, which rounded out activities a few nights ago with a terrific Dinner Gala.
Grade 12 students from various communities gathered at Toronto’s Park Hyatt Hotel where scholarships were awarded for essay submissions of 1,000 words or less covering the topic, “What is the dumbest thing I have ever done with my money and what did I learn from it?”
The scholarships, in cash, ranged from $500 to $5,000, with the top award going to Thornhill, Ontario Grade 12 student Riviera Lev-Aviv for her essay titled, The Lemonade Debacle of 2001 - a charming, humorous, beautifully written story about the trials and tribulations of an
eight-year-old entrepreneur. Look below for essay in full as well as a complete list of this year’s essay winners and sponsors.
I’ve got to say, this is CEWC’s fourth year running – and our fourth year for the Student Essay Writing Contest. Like the overall event, the essay contest just keeps getting better. This year we received no less than 1,500 Grade 12 student submissions. Of these, 37 were judged winners, up from 17 last year.
I’d like to extend sincere thanks to our main CEWC partner Capital One, as well as Gold Sponsor-Sun Life Financial and Silver Sponsors- Royal Bank of Canada, TD Bank, Scotia Bank and OLG – as well as all the private and public sector sponsors and participants of CEWC – for making this year’s event another triumph. Our team goal is to promote financial literacy in a big way to people of all ages and all backgrounds. It’s a joy to see high school students taking such an interest in the topic.
Now more than ever, with consumer debt reaching unprecedented levels, we as Canadians need to improve our understanding of money, how it influences us and how we can manage it intelligently in our daily lives.
Now, here’s a great read for you. Enjoy.
The Lemonade Debacle of 2001
By Riviera Lev-Aviv
When it comes to stupid money-related acts, let’s just say I have a vast repertoire of experiences from which I may draw. There’s that time when I left a $10 bill in the pocket of my jeans, which I proceeded to throw in the wash - not technically considered money laundering, I was relieved to learn. Or there was that time when my little sister and I attempted to raise money by selling bouquets of dandelions. (As it turns out, there’s not much of a market for that.) And then there was that time when I spent an obscenely large sum of money on a fancy-schmancy blender, just because the infomercial promised that it was “the ultimate party machine.” (It isn’t; it is currently sitting in my basement next to my giant stuffed gorilla, accumulating dust.)
However, my dumbest venture to date has to be my first entrepreneurial endeavour, at the ripe age of eight. As a business-savvy kid, I did not want to spend my summer merely sitting at home watching cartoons or playing with astronaut action figures. I wanted to get my feet wet and delve into the exciting and perilous world of entrepreneurship. I wanted to create an empire, a lucrative business that would earn me enough cash to buy all the candy in the world! I wanted to get rich quick.
I promptly arranged a meeting with my associates (my three sisters) and we established a plan of action. We decided that the best way to rake in the big bucks was to construct a good old-fashioned lemonade stand. But, as all business moguls know, you gotta spend money to make money. So, we cracked open our respective piggy banks and gathered the coins that spilled out. Seeing as our only sources of income were our grandma and the tooth fairy, there wasn’t much funding to speak of. But nonetheless, we pooled our limited resources together and collected $13.28 in seed money. We made a trek to our local grocery store, only to realize that we would need to take out a loan from the Bank of Mom to cover start-up costs. We secured said loan and promptly assembled a booth, complete with hand-drawn signage. We sat out all day under the beating sun and made a grand total of $3.25. In retrospect, I realize that this mostly came from neighbours and our dad, who got awful thirsty sitting out there keeping an eye on us. That evening, I spent my freshly earned cut of the profit in its entirety (a paltry 81 cents) on candy, without regard for the fact that this cash was owed to my mother. Despite my hard day’s work, I woke up the next day not only penniless, but in debt. It was time to declare piggy-bankruptcy.
As the reader may by now have surmised, I did not profit monetarily from the Lemonade Debacle of 2001. However, the wealth of wisdom I gained in analyzing it was of much greater value. I now know that poor money management was our fatal flaw and that learning to master it would be the key to my future financial prosperity. In hindsight, I realize that had my partners and I prepared projections, it would have been readily apparent that we had set ourselves up for failure. Our three pitchers of lemonade (each holding approximately eight cups) priced at 25 cents a pop, could at best have yielded a big fat $6 - this, had we not imbibed a significant portion of our inventory, which we did! It doesn’t take Fibonacci to deduce that $6 minus $13.28 (and a generous motherly loan) does not generate any profit whatsoever. We had neglected to budget or sufficiently plan how to earn back our initial investment. The Bank of Mom decided to let the loan slide, which was a major perk of this particular establishment. I was very fortunate to make these money management blunders in a relatively forgiving environment, because the lessons I learned would prevent similar ones in the future.
As soon as I was old enough, I decided to get a job to start saving for University. I ended up with several jobs, some of which I worked simultaneously. I was a barista, a cashier, a camp counsellor and a sales associate at a clothing store, a job I continue to enjoy years later. It was while working at a 70s-themed burger joint that I noticed something crucial that had escaped me during the Debacle of ’01: the restaurant actually charged more per beverage than it cost them to produce. This information would have been invaluable to me years ago!
In addition to my part-time retail job on weekends, I have once again established myself as an entrepreneur. I learned from my formerly flawed plan that I must be organized and financially responsible in order to succeed. I chose a low cost product to sell - my time and mathematical expertise -so that no upfront capital was required. As a Student Tutor, I earn $20 of pure profit each Tuesday and Thursday. In order to regulate my spending, I deposit 75% of my earnings into my University Savings Bank Account every Friday and leave the other 25% for my Mascara, Movies and Candy Fund. I have disciplined myself to use only cash for recreational spending, so that I’m acutely aware of every dollar I spend. I check my monthly bank statements regularly in order to monitor my progress towards covering my tuition - I intend to go through first year university debt-free. I’ve learned the simple lesson that you should only borrow money if you have a well-organized plan to pay it back.
I have come to the conclusion that when life gives you lemons, you should make lemonade, enjoy some now, and put the rest in the fridge for another day.
LIST OF ESSAY WINNERS AND SPONSORS:
Riviera Lev-Aviv from Thornhill, Ontario - $5,000, Sponsored by Capital One Canada
Vivian Tam from Toronto, Ontario - $3,000, Sponsored by Sun Life Financial
Taylor Rodrigues from Mississauga, Ontario - $2,500, Sponsored by Royal Bank
Krishanth Manokaran from Toronto, Ontario - $2,500, Sponsored by TD Canada Trust
Mark Clarkson from Pickering, Ontario - $2,500, Sponsored by Ontario Lottery
Alexandria Hamilton from Burlington, Ontario - $2,500, Sponsored by Scotiabank
Kristine Colette Mitchell from Abbotsford, British Columbia - $2,500, Sponsored by Scotiabank
Caroline Kwiate from Mississauga, Ontario - $1,500, Sponsored by Deloitte
Binh Huynh from Calgary, Alberta - $1,500, Sponsored by TD Canada Trust
Amy Lynn Nicks from Red Deer, Alberta - $1,500, Sponsored by Capital One, Canada
Christianne Varty from Calgary, Alberta - $1,500, Sponsored by Capital One, Canada
Kelsey Jones from Calgary Alberta - $1,500, Sponsored by Sun Life Financial
Deirdre Morrison from Lockeport, Nova Scotia - $1,500, Sponsored by Royal Bank of Canada
Richelle Eger from Roberts Creek, British Columbia - $1,500, Sponsored by Sun Life Financial
Mary Alliston Butt from Milltown, Newfoundland - $1,500, Sponsored by Ontario Lottery
George Lambrou from Gormley, Ontario - $1,000, Sponsored by Bank of Montreal
Patricia Erdei from Hamilton, Ontario - $1,000, Sponsored by Credit Education Week Canada
William Yin from Markham, Ontario - $1,000, Sponsored by Harris & Partners Inc.
Je Hyeon Lee from Oakville, Ontario - $1,000- Sponsored by Canadian Bankers Association
Lauren Hunt from Sharon, Ontario - $1,000, Sponsored by Meyers Norris Penny Inc.
Alysia Piatkowski from Oakville, Ontario - $1,000, Sponsored by Oakman Group
Neha Baqai from Mississauga, Ontario - $1,000, Sponsored by VISA Canada
Jerico Espinas from Oshawa, Ontario - $1,000, Sponsored by ASSET
Matthew Giambattista from Richmond Hill, Ontario - $1,000, Sponsored by Equifax
Penny Zhang from Toronto, Ontario - $1,000, Sponsored by NewStart
Rebecca Redden from Ancaster, Ontario - $1,000, Sponsored by Trans Union
Jess Portelance from Pickering, Ontario - $1,000, Sponsored by Citi Bank
Carley Whittle from Barrie, Ontario - $1,000, Sponsored by CEWC & CCS Simcoe County
Elsie Nuga from Toronto, Ontario - $1,000, Sponsored by Financial Planning Standard Council
Igal Raihman from Winnipeg, Manitoba - $1,000, Sponsored by Ontario Lottery
Brendan Kane from Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario - $1,000, Sponsored by Deloitte
Brandi Decker from Burton, New Brunswick - $1,000, Sponsored by CAAMP
Kirsten Stackhouse from Colpitts Settlement, New Brunswick - $1,000, Sponsored by TD Canada Trust
Andrew Darcovich from Surrey, British Columbia - $1,000, Sponsored by Royal Bank
Tony Tran from North York, Ontario - $500, Sponsored by Credit Assoc. of Greater Toronto
Stephanie Hutchinson from Emerald Park, Saskatchewan - $500, Sponsored by Credit Education Week Canada
Andrea Oakley from Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario - $ 500, Sponsored by Credit Education Week Canada