Over the years, I have observed a steady increase in the number of Jamaicans who are trying to develop their money skills and find ways to improve their finances. There is a wealth of financial information available on the internet or in books and CDs; but very often the material has been developed for an overseas audience, so some of the details might not be relevant to our situation.
While basic money principles are the same regardless of the country of origin, there are certain financial issues that are unique to our culture that can only be adequately covered from a local viewpoint. It is therefore encouraging to see that some Jamaican authors have risen to the task of spreading financial literacy by sharing their knowledge and experiences about money.
Let's look at some of the locally available books that aim to educate persons about personal finance and business matters:
Managing Your Finances
Almost 10 years ago, Ardath McCalla, then a financial analyst at the National Investment Bank of Jamaica, was inspired to write a handbook on basic money principles. Although her dream to publish the book was unavoidably put on hold, McCalla never gave up on her vision to teach people about proper financial management.
Responding to the current wave of global financial challenges that have been affecting individuals, companies and countries alike, McCalla revisited and revamped her original money management script. With the objective of helping people to survive and succeed in these harsh economic times, McCalla recently published her debut book, Managing Your Finances.
Managing Your Finances provides readers with suggestions on how to take control of their money with careful budgeting and spending. McCalla examines the difficult issue of indebtedness, and makes suggestions on how a family can avoid and reduce debt. The importance of saving and investing for the future, especially for retirement needs, is also covered.
Despite the money problems that many people are facing, McCalla believes that it is possible for them to overcome their financial difficulties if they practise the procedures and principles that she outlines. McCalla confirms, "If you want to enjoy a financially secure and prosperous life, you should make the effort to be smarter with your earnings, your planning and your expenditure."
Starting a Business in Jamaica
In the early 1990s when I decided to start my first formal business venture, advice services for small and micro enterprises were almost non-existent. Over time it became a little easier for new entrepreneurs to get assistance in establishing their operations, thanks to the formation of organisations such as the Jamaica Business Development Corporation.
Although there were several locations providing business start-up advice, it was still a daunting process for the average person to know and fulfil all the regulatory requirements. A young entrepreneur, Kimala Bennett, faced with the rigours of setting up her small enterprise, realised that a step-by-step guide was desperately needed to make the process simpler.
Seizing the business opportunity that is always existent in any problem, Bennett went about the arduous task of compiling all the processes needed for new businesses. In 2010, Bennett finally published a comprehensive manual, Starting a Business in Jamaica, which provides every detail on how to start a business.
The attractively laid-out book takes you through writing a business plan, choosing a legal structure, registering the business and trademarks, enrolling with tax authorities, obtaining financing and much more. As Bennett declares, running a business is a learning process; so if you are thinking of starting a business, then this manual can help you to move quickly up the learning curve.
Money Basics for Kids
If you would like your children to become independent income earners, it's not enough to just encourage them to study hard and get good jobs. There's more to financial achievement than getting a big pay cheque. Unfortunately, money success principles are not currently taught in our school system, so you have to help your kids to learn basic money skills from an early age.
The best time to influence positive behaviours is during a person's youthful years. Recognising that there was an absence of local reading material to educate children about the world of money and entrepreneurship, author Sharryn Dawson set about creating an entertaining book, Money Basics for Kids: Financial Literacy for Children, for youngsters ages eight and over.
Using engaging cartoon characters to guide the young readers through the money lessons, Dawson introduces concepts such as the importance of money, managing allowances, the value of saving for the future, and simple business practices. Children will also enjoy completing the activities at the end of each chapter which reinforce the money messages being taught.
One of the reasons why many people struggle financially throughout their lives is that they were never taught how to handle money. Dawson certainly got it right when she asserts "when you empower a child to understand their own finances ...you empower them to become financially responsible adults; and in essence you are empowering the nation."
Cherryl is a money coach, business mentor, and founder of Financially S.M.A.R.T. Services. Her upcoming book, "The 3 Ms of Money" will reveal all the secrets she learned about financial success. Get more advice on money and business matters at www.financiallysmart,org and www.entrepreneursinjamaica.com. Email comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.