Saving and Investing: A Path to Financial Security

Chavelle Campbell, Youth Empowerment Officer, with Ministry of Education, Youth and Information

Chavelle Campbell knows too well the importance of saving and investing and how these financial tools have assisted her in achieving her financial goals.

The 30 year-old, Youth Empowerment Officer, with Ministry of Education, Youth and Information learned from an early age that preparing for her retirement should commence as soon as she lands her first job – a knowledge which was imparted to her through the BeWi$e Financial Empowerment Programme, an initiative of the JN Foundation.

“Coming out of university, I did my internship at the JN Foundation with the Resolution Project and that is when I was introduced to the BeWi$e Financial Empowerment Programme. Through the programme, I learned about saving to invest, and since then, I have implemented many of those lessons in my life,” she said.

“I learned then that your first pay cheque, is when you [should] start saving for your pension,” she added.

Campbell said through discipline, she was able to purchase her home by the time she was 30 and most of her financial goals are on point.

“One of the things I have learned from the BeWi$e programme is that each ‘one, teach one’. So since then I have been extending my knowledge to everyone,” she said.

Aneika Vassell, a student nurse
Aneika Vassell, a student nurse

For Aneika Vassell, a student nurse who cares for patients with advanced dementia, budgeting was key to improving her finances.

“A budget is the first tool that you can use to create wealth. My husband and I have been using this tool in our everyday life to manage our money better,” she said explaining that it assisted in keeping track of spending and achieving financial goals.

Vassell, however, admitted that in the beginning it was difficult and that it took a lot of discipline, but, she noted, it has paid off, as there have been improvements in their savings and investment.

“So far, we are reaping our rewards. We have improved in our savings, we have improved our investments and we have been diversifying our portfolio, which is very important,” she said.

Rose Miller, grants manager at the JN Foundation
Rose Miller, grants manager at the JN Foundation

Rose Miller, grants manager at the JN Foundation and team lead of the BeWi$e Financial Empowerment Programme said that a budget can be created by using apps or Microsoft Excel/Google Sheets.

“Select the most suitable method to help you create your budget.  It can be as simple, or as complex as you like. Be prepared to input information about all income and especially expenses as they happen. Whichever method you choose, you will still need to be disciplined to achieve your financial goals so sticking to the budget is very critical. If possible, set an alert to warn about overspending,” she said.

Giving advice on tips on how to improve saving, Mrs Miller said it is best to apply the following:

  • Pay yourself first– Use online banking to transfer money or automate deposits from your pay to your savings, investment, or emergency fund account. Remember the 10-10-80 rule:

10% – Savings

10% – Donate

80% – Spend

  • Create an Emergency Fund–   If you do not yet have an emergency fund account, it is time to set one up.  Remember you should maintain a balance to cover at least six months  living expenses  in your emergency fund,” she said.
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Pinching Pennies During A Crisis – JN Manager Advises Jamaicans To Spend Wisely Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

LIKE MANY Jamaicans, Millicent Powell*, a resident of Eight Miles in Bull Bay, St Andrew, is already feeling the economic crunch brought on by the ongoing restrictions on movement and social gatherings, due to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic.

The 60-year-old practical nurse, who provides geriatric care, has been out of work for almost two weeks.

“I lost my job without any warning. The day after the Government announced that Bull Bay would be placed under quarantine, I received a call from the wife of the elderly man I was taking care of. She just told me not to come back to work until further notice,” Powell informed.

“I was laid off without any pay or any surety that I would get my job back. It has been a devastating blow, because I honestly didn’t have much savings; and the small amount I had has already dried up,” she stated.

The mother of two, who has been the sole breadwinner for her family since her husband died a few years ago, said her bills have been piling up.

“Right now, it comes down to eating or paying my bills. My JPS (Jamaica Public Service) bill was due on the 21st of March and I couldn’t afford to pay it. My cooking gas is running low, and we will soon be out of toiletries,” she related.

Powell is, however, grateful to the Government for the weekly food supply they have been providing to the residents of Bull Bay since the quarantine was declared.

“It has been a big help for many of us,” she said. However, the Clarendon native is hoping that things will turn around soon, as she is uncertain how long she can survive under the enormous weight of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Rose Miller, head of the JN BeWi$e financial empowerment programme, said, unfortunately, Powell’s situation reflects the experience of many Jamaicans.

HAND-TO-MOUTH
“Many of our hairdressers, barbers, taxi drivers, farmers, vendors and tourism workers have found themselves in a similar predicament.

“The sad reality is that a majority of our population live hand to mouth, and they often have little or no savings on which they can survive during a time of crisis,” she related.

Miller, who is also grants manager at the JN Foundation, said it will take significant family and community support, the goodwill of corporate Jamaica and other entities, such as the Church, to ensure that all Jamaicans can weather this economic storm.

She also pointed out that Jamaicans will also need to become more creative to ensure that they are able to stretch the little funds they now have. The JN Foundation financial literacy expert suggested that persons consider the following tips to manage their financial resources during the coronavirus crisis.

1. Reach out to your creditors

Miller noted that the good news is that many utility and other companies are aware that some persons are experiencing financial hardships as a result of the COVID-19 restrictions.

“Some have designed programmes specifically to assist their customers during this rough time. Therefore, if you find yourself in the spot where you won’t be able to meet your financial responsibilities, it is wise to reach out to your creditors, because they may be willing to work with you until you are back on your feet,” she advised.

2. Make partial bill payments

“The truth is that many people will be forced to choose between paying their monthly bills and providing sustenance for their families,” Miller said. “If you are faced with that dilemma, you may need to prioritise your bills and make partial or minimum payments, where possible.”

3. Be creative with your meal preparation

Miller said the Jamaican idiom, ‘tun yuh han’ mek fashion,’ will come in very handy at this time. “You may need to get creative in the kitchen to ensure that every member of the family eats, and that you are able to make what you have last for some time,” she said. “Take advantage of discounts, and switch to cheaper brands, where possible.”

She noted that in some instances, persons may need to forego or reduce the amount of poultry or fish they consume in favour of more affordable alternatives, such as callaloo and cabbage or canned goods. “Other vegetables, such as carrots, peas, beans and potatoes, can also be used to stretch your chicken or beef dishes. It may also mean that you will only be able to eat two or even one substantial meal for the day instead of three big meals,” the JN manager said.

4. Listen out for opportunities of assistance

“Keep your ears to the ground so that you do not miss out on any opportunity for assistance from the Government, the Church or corporate Jamaica,” Miller recommended.

Some organisations, including financial institutions, have announced measures through which they will be providing relief or assistance to persons experiencing financial difficulties during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Government has also announced relief packages for affected groups, and some church organisations have been collecting donations to assist the most vulnerable.

Miller said persons in dire need of financial assistance should not be afraid to take advantage of any of these opportunities.

* Name changed.

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Growth & Jobs | Help Your Children To Become Financially Literate

Rose Miller, grants manager at the JN Foundation, is recommending that parents inculcate financial awareness in their children at an early age.

“It is essential for raising a child,” she insisted. “Teaching children how to become financially aware at an early age will help to develop in them good money-management skills and other habits which will help them throughout their lives”.

The JN grants manager, who has responsibility for the foundation’s BeWise financial empowerment programme, posits that from an early age, children should be exposed to financial literacy as it helps them to understand the value of money.

“It helps them to understand how to earn it and grow it, manage it, and generally how they can navigate the financial arena, which can be quite intimidating.

“Our young children are like sponges; and their creative minds are constantly picking up new traits. Therefore, it is the best time to inculcate excellent saving habits,” she pointed out.

Miller explained that these saving habits should be actionable. This requires parental involvement. Opening a savings account for their children is one way parents can kick-start their children’s journey to financial independence.

The JN Foundation grants manager said that the opening of a savings account is a demonstration of a commitment to the process and that the action will have positive, far-reaching implications for families in the future.

10-10-80 FORMULA
“Parents could start by purchasing a ‘saving pan’, or repurposing any suitable receptacle, such as a large plastic water bottle, where their children can deposit their spare change.

“As children get older they can be introduced to the 10-10-80 formula, which recommends that they save 10 per cent of any money they receive. This practice is a solid way to ensure financial security when they become adults,” she advised

She continued: “Teach your child the concept of disciplined saving by ensuring that they add to their savings regularly; teach them that in the long run, consistency will pay big dividends. They should also be encouraged to have a saving goal and to be committed to that goal and not dip into their savings prematurely. Move money from their savings pan to their bank account at intervals,” Miller advised.

She said children can also be taught the concept of delayed gratification by encouraging them to save towards achieving personal goals and objectives, such as expensive toys, gifts for friends/family, and entertainment outings.

“It is perfectly appropriate to add to your children’s savings effort, using the opportunity to teach them how interest on savings is calculated.”

KNOWLEDGE EXPANSION
Miller stated that parents can also help to expand their children’s knowledge base on finance by spending time watching educational videos about financial literacy with their children on websites and on YouTube.

“There are also many books which can be accessed free of cost on the Internet. Over time, children will become more financially savvy, and will naturally elevate their conversation from saving to investing as they become aware that investing is where real wealth is created,” she underscored.

The JN Foundation’s BeWise financial empowerment team leader also pointed out that along with financial literacy, it is important for parents to prepare financially for their children’s education.

“As you plan for their training, you should also make the necessary preparations for them to access tertiary education. If parents succeed in these two areas, they would have provided their children with a solid platform to not only enable their own financial security, but also by extension, the financial success of the country,” she explained.

Miller asserts that as the level of financial literacy increases, the level of financial inclusion in the society will increase, which will have a positive impact on the economy.

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Fix it! – JN grants manager says poor debt management can affect physical health

The start of a new year always brings with it deep reflection. It’s a time when most persons often make decisions about the things they want to change in their lives or the goals they want to attain in the new year.


It is also a time when some persons frequently pause to reflect on the condition of their physical and mental health or the state of their finances. However, what many persons fail to realise is that these two subjects often go “hand in hand.”


Rose Miller, grants manager at the JN Foundation and head of the JN BeWi$e Financial Empower Programme, advised that the age-old adage, “health is wealth,” is more than a cliché. Miller pointed out that financial mismanagement can seriously impact one’s physical and mental well-being.


Recent statistics from the Bank of Jamaica (BOJ) revealed that $56.60 of every $100 earned by households in Jamaica is used to finance debt. The information was revealed in the Financial Stability Report 2018. That is the highest level of household debt mapped by the central bank to date, which highlights that Jamaicans are currently servicing three times more debt than they did a decade ago.


According to the BOJ, the underlying reason for the upsurge in debt relates to consumer loans, which have increased three times as fast as income annually.


Many more Jamaicans are also diagnosed with lifestyle illnesses, such as heart disease and strokes, with non-communicable diseases (NCDs) representing two-thirds of all deaths in Jamaica.


Miller noted that while NCDs share several common, modifiable risk factors – tobacco use, harmful alcohol abuse, physical inactivity, and unhealthy diet – taking strides to improve financial health can also have benefits for physical and mental health.


“Part of a wellness-centred lifestyle should also include paying careful attention to your finances and ensure that you’re setting yourself up for a prosperous life,” she advised.


Here are some of the most common ways poor money management can manifest itself physically.


1. Raised Diastolic Blood Pressure


High blood pressure is the precursor to a myriad of health problems, including but not limited to heart attacks and strokes. A 2013 Northwestern University study in the United States of America showed that adults ages 24 to 32, who had high debts, also had higher diastolic blood pressure. “This is an age group which, money issues aside, should be in optimal health. When it comes to heart disease, we can’t help our genetic predisposition; however, we can certainly make an effort to pay down our debts as quickly as possible, which will be of significant help,” she maintained.


2. Greater muscle tension


Muscle tension, including back pain, has been reported in persons with high debt stress. In addition, 44 per cent had migraines or other headaches, compared to just 15 per cent without debt stress, according to a 2008 Associated Press-AOL health poll. “If you believe you’re suffering from tension due to money problems, consider coupling your financial plan with exercises, such as: walking, aerobics, or simple stretches,” Miller advised.


3. Worsened digestive symptoms


The digestive system is often referred to as the centre of health. When under heavy financial stress, many persons do not maintain proper eating habits. Healthy food may not even be accessible or affordable for those in financial trouble. In addition, statistics from a 2008 Associated Press-AOL health poll reveal that 27 per cent of persons with high debt stress reported having ulcers or other digestive tract problems, compared to just eight per cent without debt stress.


4. Depression


If you have major debts, or if you recently lost your job, things can turn bleak very quickly if you are without a financial cushion. Feelings of despair are therefore common. The 2008 Associated Press-AOL health poll also revealed that some 23 per cent of those persons with debt reported having severe depression, compared to just four per cent who were not indebted. The poll also found that there was a 14 per cent increase in depression symptoms with every 10 per cent increase in personal debt.


Miller advised that a life well lived is based on proper financial management.
“While there are many things you can do to improve your physical and mental health, including exercise, eating right, cultivating meaningful relationships, getting regular check-ups and rest, there’s no denying the science behind, and the connection between, health and finances,” she maintained.


“Do everything in your power to keep your credit score high, your debt low, and your savings and investments plenty. You’ll reap the reward both physically and mentally. If needs be, prioritise health, as it is a critical pillar for a successful life.”

See the original article here!

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