Rose Miller, manager, Strategic Empowerment Programmes at the JN Foundation is underscoring the value of financial literacy and encouraging Jamaicans to take this matter seriously as this is one way to bolster economic growth and development for the country.
“Financially literate citizens will know the importance of saving and investing. When citizens save and invest, this will promote stability in a country. This in turn will help to generate more investments and translate into economic growth and development,” she said.
Mrs Miller gave the advice against the background of financial literacy month which is being observed in April as well as the country’s relatively low level of financial literacy.
According to the Financial Literacy Around the World Report, published in 2019, which was undertaken by Standard & Poor’s with representatives from the World Bank, Jamaica was ranked 29 out of the 47 scores assigned to 142 countries. In regards to simple financial literacy, only 33% of Jamaicans surveyed indicated that they had knowledge of basic financial principles.
She pointed out that the argument for improving and promoting financial education is compelling and the need to narrow the financial literacy gap was urgent. She urged Jamaicans to take responsibility for improving their financial education.
“All adults should make it a priority to learn something new about the area of finance every day. Invest time in improving your financial IQ; it will pay big dividends. And, if you are a parent, as early as possible, help your children to develop a positive attitude and behaviour towards money, teach them simple money management skills and provide opportunities for them to practice these skills,” she stated.
Mrs. Miller said persons should pursue financial education. “Firstly, it enables you to make better and wiser financial decisions. People with a high level of financial literacy feel more confident about their finances. They have a greater understanding of the risks and benefits associated with different financial options; are able to spot, evaluate and take action on investment opportunities, manage debt wisely and are more likely to achieve their financial goals,” she explained.
The JN Foundation manager of Strategic Empowerment Programmes further notes that being financially literate enables individuals to be more protective of their financial affairs.
“This is because you are equipped with knowledge and you will not be easily duped. It’s easier to identity or recognise financial scams and fraud, providing a stronger barrier of protection against these, allowing you to safeguard your finances, your financial well-being and your peace of mind,” she said.
Mrs Miller noted that increased financial awareness will also help a person to build wealth over time and therefore secure, a legacy which can be transferred to the next generation.
“With a deeper understanding of how money works, these persons are likely to make better financial choices with long-term benefits. This she said, can build financial security and stability for themselves, their families and also set up the next generation for financial success,” she informed.
She gave the following challenge to encourage individuals to improve their level of financial literacy: “Learn something new every day, “Take advantage of the vast amount of knowledge currently available such as, free seminars; information in the media and on the internet. There is simply no excuse to be ignorant.”
In addition, she said persons should commit to share the knowledge gained and act on the knowledge. She noted that these approaches will put families and ultimately the country on the path of financial security.