Let’s look at some old-time Jamaican sayings that can help us to understand the basic principles of sound money management:
1. Begin with a dream -“Nuh care how tree big, woodpecker know weh fi do wid it”
To be successful at managing your money, you must be clear what you want your money to achieve for you. You are much more likely to buy a house, send your children to college, start your own business, or retire in style, if you focus on your dream and establish an action plan to help you accomplish it.
2. Know your current financial picture – “De more yuh look, de more yuh see”
Being very clear about your present financial position is a crucial step to attaining your dreams. Many people are afraid to be honest with their finances, and pretend that they are not in difficulties. List all your savings and property, and calculate all outstanding debts. Subtract liabilities from assets to get your financial net worth. Whatever your money situation is now, it can be improved with an appropriate plan of action.
3. Seek expert advice -“Wise monkey know which tree fi climb”
Seeking assistance from financial advisors will make your planning easier. They will be able to explain all the investing options, and help you to make a workable plan to attain your financial goals.
4. Budget wisely – “Rain a fall but the dutty tuff”
A major challenge to meeting your financial goals is finding the money to meet everyday expenses and still save for the future. This is why it so important to establish a realistic budget, which will indicate if your compulsory expenses are greater than your earnings, or if you are spending too much on unnecessary items. You will need to either reduce some expenses or find ways to supplement your income.
5. Live within your means – “Nuh put yuh cap weh yuh caan reach it”
An important financial principle is to spend less than you earn. Many persons go into massive debt by trying to purchase consumer items that they cannot afford. Your budget can help you to establish spending limits for non-essential possessions, which will allow you to concentrate on building your investments.
6. Save consistently – “One one coco full basket”
Making a firm commitment to save specific amounts regularly is the key to building your wealth. Try to put aside at least ten percent of your earnings. Remember that it’s not how much you earn, but how much you can save that makes the difference. Try to make your savings plan automatic by using salary deductions or standing orders.
7. Establish an emergency fund – “Trouble nuh set like rain”
Your first savings goal should be to establish a ‘rainy day’ account which would act as a financial cushion in the event of any emergency like illness or loss of employment. The target for this account should be to save three to six times your normal monthly expenses.
8. Increase your earnings – “Who have dry peas look fi fiyah”
In order to attain your financial dreams, sometimes you will just have to earn more income. It’s really up to you to make the special effort to get what you want in life. Your budget will indicate how much more you’ll need to receive in order to meet your financial targets. Be creative in finding ways to make extra money: look for opportunities that may exist right around you, or make use of any special skills you have that may be marketable.
9. Protect your investment plan – “Doah yuh cyaan stop flyin crow feader from drop, yuh can hinder crow from mek nes pon yuh head top”
Even the best conceived plans can be derailed by an emergency like death or natural disaster. It’s very important to protect your goals. For example, if you’re saving towards your children’s future education, it would be wise to incorporate an insurance plan that will still provide the money even if you’re no longer around.
10. Start now! – “Victory nuh cum fram lie dung eena bed”
uccessful money management requires dedication and discipline, prudence and persistence. If you haven’t started to think about how to make your money work for you, begin today. The longer you wait to establish an action plan towards achieving your financial dreams, the harder it will be to attain them.
Originally published in the Daily Observer, August 3, 2006. © 2006 Cherryl Hanson Simpson