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!