Category Archives: Money Reflections

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

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

The Field of Dreams: A Financial Fairy Tale

The Curious Traveller was traversing a wooded area of the Kingdom when he came upon a weather-beaten sign that read ‘Field of Dreams.’ A short distance away, he noticed a tiny cottage perched at the entrance of what appeared to be a large cemetery teeming with rows of graves.

Intrigued, the Curious Traveller strolled over to the building and raised the rusty metal knocker. Instantly, the door opened and a wizened old man stood in front of him. “How can I help you?” he grunted.

“I am curious about the Field of Dreams,” the Curious Traveller responded. “What is this place?”

“This is where the businesses of the Kingdom are taken when they die,” the old man explained. “I am the caretaker who lays them to rest.”

Just beyond the cottage, the Curious Traveller noticed a walled-off area secured by a heavy iron gate with a large chain and padlock. “What’s in that section of the Field of Dreams?” he queried.

The caretaker sighed deeply and shook his head slowly. “Sit down, my friend,” said the caretaker, pointing to a rickety chair in the office. “Let me tell you the story of what lies beyond that iron gate.” Continue reading The Field of Dreams: A Financial Fairy Tale

Financial Independence for Jamaica

Happy Independence Day, Jamaica! As we celebrate the 53rd anniversary of the date when the British flag was lowered for the last time and replaced with our iconic black, green and gold standard, it is an ideal time to reflect on what it means to be an independent nation.

When we made the bold step towards self-governance, there must have been an expectation that we would be able to manage our own affairs and lift our country to new heights. Half-a-century later, can we report that we have been successful in doing what it takes to be truly independent?

We may have fulfilled one definition of independence — “not subject to another’s authority or jurisdiction” — but there are other characteristics that we have not yet acquired. An autonomous entity should not be dependent on others for its existence, or have to rely on others for support. Continue reading Financial Independence for Jamaica

Surviving In a Time of Scarcity

Living in a developing country such as Jamaica has its share of challenges which can often lead to disruption and displeasure for its citizens. One perennial problem that perturbs us whenever there is a prolonged drought is the scarcity of piped water for everyday use.

It seems that every year we experience progressively worse conditions with the country’s declining rainfall levels. Whether we are suffering from the effects of global warming or the removal of trees needed to boost the watershed areas, something is drastically wrong in the ‘land of wood and water.’

Money down the drain

Many households and businesses are crippled by the lack of this precious commodity. Some of the issues affecting our productivity include: employees who are late or absent from work due to their search for water; lost revenue for businesses that depend on water; and money diverted into purchasing potable water.

While I acknowledge that other countries are also suffering from the results of climate change, I question our national response to the water crisis. Praying for rain may be our standard answer, but I would like to see more permanent solutions to address our dwindling water resources. Continue reading Surviving In a Time of Scarcity

How Much Is Your Life Worth?

As we enter the Easter period, many Jamaicans celebrate the important Christian holiday in which they remember the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is a time for reflection on how the sacrifice that was made thousands of years ago still impacts the lives of many persons today.

Although we may not readily list it as one of the assets on our personal balance sheets, the gift of life is priceless. Despite the challenges and difficulties that may discourage us from time to time, it is indeed a rich blessing to be given another day to experience what life has in store for us.

Does income determine your value?

If you wanted to quantify the value of your life, could you put a price tag on your existence? In order to seek a financial settlement in legal cases that involve wrongful deaths, lawyers often try to calculate how much possible income has been lost from the untimely passing of an individual. Continue reading How Much Is Your Life Worth?

2015 Money Forecast

Another year has arrived and I would like to wish all my loyal readers a Happy New Year! For me, 2014 was filled with new beginnings and break-through events. I also encountered delays in completing some goals and learned valuable financial and business lessons from my experiences.

One of the highlights of 2014 was the interaction with my readers. This column has given me an outlet to meet many persons who share my interest in personal finance or need assistance with their money concerns. I look forward to engaging with many more of you as this year progresses.

The wonderful thing about a new year is that it gives us all the opportunity to erase the mistakes and disappointments of the past twelve months and set a more positive agenda for the coming period. The past is history; now is the time to chart your course for a more prosperous future.

Try to visualise 2015 as a new day just before the dawn breaks. As you gaze out into the horizon, what kind of financial ‘weather’ do you foresee that the upcoming period will have in store? Does your money forecast for the New Year feature dark, stormy clouds, or bright, sunny skies? Continue reading 2015 Money Forecast

Conversations at Christmas Time

To all my faithful readers, I wish you a blessed and happy Christmas! Just for this day, try to put aside all the concerns and challenges that you may be facing with your finances, and focus on enjoying the food, fellowship and festivity with your family and friends.

If you’re celebrating with your relatives and close companions, consider yourself fortunate. There are many persons whose loved ones are no longer part of their lives, whether through death or separation, who find this time of year particularly depressing and lonely.

There are news reports of disasters – famine, disease, mass murders and kidnappings – that persons all over the world are experiencing at this time. These should help you to put your own problems into perspective when you consider the immense suffering that’s taking place elsewhere.

So eat, drink and be merry! Spend the day making cherished Christmas memories that will last for a lifetime. However, when the holiday frivolity has subsided, your thoughts may return to reflecting on the less pleasant money issues that have been pervasive throughout the year. Continue reading Conversations at Christmas Time