Money Talks

When the opportunity presented itself towards the end of 2005 for me to write a weekly financial advice column in the Jamaica Observer, I had no idea how much this decision would be a life-changing one.

One year earlier in December 2004, I had been asked by the investment company where I worked to submit an article for another newspaper. I had thoroughly enjoyed working on the advice piece, and became enamoured with the idea of writing my own column to present practical money tips.

The dream is born

At that time, there were few local resources educating people about important personal finance principles. I was motivated to share the lessons I had been learning about improving my finances with a wider audience, as I realised that many people were struggling with similar money problems.

After preparing a concept document for my desired column, I started researching various money topics online and in financial books. Over the ensuing months, I had compiled information on saving, budgeting, debt, investments, retirement and other financial matters into several folders.

I really had no idea how my column-writing goal would have been achieved, but I continued to equip myself with the required knowledge. After sharing my dream with a colleague at work, she revealed that she knew an editor at the Jamaica Observer, and that I should email her my details.

Preparation meets opportunity

Then one fateful day, the editor came into my office. I introduced myself, explained what I wanted to accomplish with the column, and enquired if there would be space for my idea. She revealed that a new Thursday Life feature was being developed and that my column would fit in perfectly.

Since I had been preparing for this opportunity for a year, it was easy to write a sample column, which was immediately accepted. My many months of preparation had paid off; now I had an outlet to share my money lessons with numerous readers in Jamaica and all over the world.

Ten years and over 500 articles later, I can declare that my writing has not only allowed me to educate people about key financial principles, but it has helped me to develop personally in many ways. Here are a few of the valuable lessons that I have gleaned over the years.

Time budgeting is essential

One of the realities of writing a weekly column is that there is a strict time frame for submission. My busy schedule gave me precious little time to prepare the week’s money lessons, so my commitment to my column meant that I often had to sacrifice sleep time to get the job done.

I also had to learn how to get better with my writing skills so that I could produce an article within the limited hours that I carved out my day. Implementing the time budgeting strategies that I learned through writing has helped to me to complete many other assignments and objectives.

Procrastination is counter-productive

As a serial procrastinator, I have been disadvantaged in the past because I delayed taking action on a timely basis. On several occasions, procrastination has forced me to have to write in uncomfortable situations, such as in an airport waiting lounge trying to beat the boarding call.

Over time, the stress of putting off my writing got the better of me, and I began to resist the urge to procrastinate. I can definitely give credit to my weekly column responsibilities for releasing me from a very negative habit, which has allowed me to become much more productive with my tasks.

Criticism is not your enemy

It is necessary to develop thick skin when writing for the public, as you open yourself up to all kinds of responses to your efforts. At first, I was intimidated by the notion of receiving negative feedback, but I was cured of that fear many years ago by a reader who gave me pause for thought.

After criticising my article as being ‘trite’, my reader suggested that I look to nature for ideas. I took his advice, researched the habits of certain animals, and wrote ‘Money Lessons from the Animal Kingdom.’ This ushered in a new era of creativity in my writing that has benefited me ever since.

Change is necessary

Following my dream to share money lessons through my column also emboldened me to take bigger steps. Recognising that there was more that I could do to help persons, I quit my job in 2007. After exploring the opportunities in this niche, I formed Financially S.M.A.R.T. Services to produce and market financial education resources.

In December 2015, I published my eBook, The 3 M’s of Money, which reveals all the money lessons I learned. Everything I now know about solving money problems and planning for your financial future can be found in the pages of this book.  Now that my book is complete, my dream is finally realised. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!!

New horizons beckon

It’s time to explore new territories. I will now be focusing on helping people to make more money and promoting the entrepreneurial efforts of my fellow Jamaicans. Future posts will be done on my other blog, EntrepreneursInJamaica.com, so please subscribe so that you don’t miss anything new.

In addition, look out for more innovative financial education resources that will soon be available on FinanciallySmart.org. You can also download free budget worksheets and calculators by registering on the member page.

The world is your oyster

While I have been blessed with the advantage of writing for a popular newspaper, the Internet has leveled the playing field, as it gives everyone the ability to reach an audience of millions. Social media, blogs and websites are online tools that anyone can utilise to make a mark on the world.

As I close this chapter on my money talks, I encourage you to listen to what your own heart is yearning to achieve. Release the fear and take courage to follow your wildest dreams. As I have experienced, you might be pleasantly surprised where the journey will take you!

The 7 Cardinal Virtues of Money

“Some rise by sin, and some by virtue fall” – William Shakespeare

When you take a look at the way the world runs, you could be forgiven for thinking that it pays to follow a less than honorable path in life. There’s lots of money to be made in the pursuit of nefarious activities, and they often provide a tempting lure for those who seek to get rich.

On the other hand, you will see decent, law-abiding citizens who have made positive contributions to society, struggling to make ends meet. In some cases, taking the righteous route can actually work to your detriment. When it comes to money, is there any value in being virtuous?

Last week, we looked at how the seven deadly sins – lust, gluttony, greed, envy, sloth, wrath and pride – can negatively impact your finances. In the age-old battle of good vs. evil, let’s see how the seven cardinal virtues of money may counteract the destructive effects of the seven financial vices. Continue reading The 7 Cardinal Virtues of Money

The 7 Deadly Sins of Money

The Bible is often misquoted to declare that ‘money is the root of all evil’. Some people use this verse to preach that money is tainted and that it is the source of many of the world’s problems. However, 1 Timothy 6:10 actually states that “the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.”

The passage is used in the context that an unhealthy aspiration for wealth can entrap people into harmful desires that may lead to their eventual ruin. It’s not often that love – perhaps the most unselfish and wholesome feeling known to humanity – is used to explain something that is evil.

Instead of referring to the love of money, I think that a more appropriate word to describe an excessive craving for riches would be greed. This negative behaviour is counted among the seven deadly sins, a religious classification of vices which dates back to the 4th century A.D.

The other six sins in the modern version of the list are lust, gluttony, envy, sloth, wrath and pride. In many respects, these serious transgressions are associated with undesirable attitudes and actions that affect your finances. Here’s my take on the seven deadly sins of money. Continue reading The 7 Deadly Sins of Money

Jamaican Style Money Guide: Wise Monkey Know Which Tree Fi Climb

We have recently been looking at the importance of saving in designing a financial success plan. While it is critical to consistently put aside a portion of your income to create an emergency account and build an opportunity fund, the reality is that saving alone won’t make you rich.

Saving is essential to help you develop discipline with money, and it also allows you to focus more attention on accumulating money instead of just spending it. In addition, your savings can give you a head start to pursue more lucrative financial options to create long-lasting wealth.

What Does It Take to Build Wealth?

If you have been saving diligently and you are a little disappointed with the slow growth of your bank balance, you need to start employing strategies that will enable you to boost your results. Unlike the relatively passive act of saving, however, building wealth takes a lot more expertise.

I like to utilise clever Jamaican sayings to help clarify money concepts. Our snippet of wisdom for this week declares, “Wise monkey know which tree fi climb.” An experienced monkey searches for the trees with the best food sources and avoids those which hide potential danger. Continue reading Jamaican Style Money Guide: Wise Monkey Know Which Tree Fi Climb

Jamaican-Style Money Guide: Parson Christen ’Im Pickney Fus

At the beginning of a year, many people declare that they want to make some changes in their lives, in order to produce better results than they experienced in the previous year. Very often, their willingness to improve diminishes after a few weeks or months, leading to unfulfilled resolutions.

Some people fail to realise their objectives because they don’t establish a strong motivation that will force them to persevere until their goal is met. If you have a compelling vision for your future or a credo that directs all your actions, then you are more likely to succeed.

In this tough economy, more people are complaining that they are surviving from pay cheque to pay cheque. They feel like they are only working to pay their bills; all of their income is consumed by the rising cost of living and there is nothing left behind for saving or investing.

Although inflation keeps moving prices upwards while income remains stagnant, if you are going to achieve your money objectives this year, you have to find a way to overcome this challenge. What will you use to inspire you to grow in spite of these negative economic forces? Continue reading Jamaican-Style Money Guide: Parson Christen ’Im Pickney Fus

7 Money Must-Haves for 2016

As we usher in the year 2016 with an optimistic outlook for a bright future, we must have a
decisive game plan to create a more prosperous New Year. Instead of just rehashing wishful resolutions from past years, make a concerted effort to attain these specific financial objectives:

1. A S.M.A.R.T. goal

It’s been said that ‘a promise is a comfort to a fool’; and some people believe that resolutions are foolish wishes that bring cold comfort. Your dreams may seem impossible to achieve if you don’t convert your ideas into specific, measurable, actionable, relevant and time-based goals.

Select one dream that would make the biggest difference in your life. Write it down precisely, expressing how you would measure it, take action on it and know when it was complete. Consider all the steps you need to take every day to realise your goal and persevere until you accomplish it. Continue reading 7 Money Must-Haves for 2016

Time to Ring Out The Old

Ring out the old, ring in the new
Ring, happy bells across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.*

As we say adieu to the year 2015, it is an opportune time to reflect on some of the achievements that we may have made over the last 364 days. I hope that your review will reveal encouraging steps in your journey to improving your financial wellbeing and accomplishing your goals!

The year end is also an appropriate time for us to honestly look at our problems and determine stategies to have a better New Year. Let’s review some of the issues that have concerned many Jamaicans in 2015, and make some resolutions that can lead to a more prosperous nation in 2016. Continue reading Time to Ring Out The Old

Make a Difference with Your Holiday Gifts

As a young child, I would definitely look forward to the Christmas season. There was something magical about hearing the joyful carols on the radio, feeling the brisk chill of the breeze, seeing the houses adorned with sparkling lights, tasting the tangy flavour of sorrel, and smelling the enticing aroma of fruitcakes baking in the oven.

Like most children, I really anticipated the gifts that Santa should bring once I had been good all year round. It was hard to sit through Christmas morning church service wondering what was enclosed in those brightly wrapped parcels at the foot of my bed and under the Christmas tree.

As adults, while we may have lost the childlike awe of this season, many of us still yearn for the happiness of the holidays when we can enjoy family, food and fellowship. Although we may not admit it, some of us also secretly long for the presents and surprises that the holidays may bring. Continue reading Make a Difference with Your Holiday Gifts

A Jamaican Business Owner’s Fight To Survive: It’s the System, Stupid

We rejoin the saga of business owner David, whose trucking company was facing serious challenges. On the verge of giving up on his entrepreneurial dream, David found a glimmer of hope for the way forward in a book about business success and resolved to keep on fighting.

“Ping!” The familiar notification sound roused David from his reverie. Absent-mindedly, he glanced over at the phone message, his finger poised above the delete button. He expected it to be another annoying advertisement from the mobile provider which constantly interrupted his train of thought.

Seeing the words ‘Free business workshop’, David snapped to full attention and put down the receivables report which he had been reviewing. The holidays were coming and he had to get some of this outstanding money into the bank if he were to pay Christmas bonuses this year.

The seminar looked intriguing, as it promised to reveal steps that a business could take to improve its results. Looking in his calendar, David noted that he had an important meeting with a potential client on the same date. “I can’t afford to lose money sitting down in a training session,” he thought. Continue reading A Jamaican Business Owner’s Fight To Survive: It’s the System, Stupid