"Emancipate yourself from mental slavery;
none but ourselves can free our minds."
— Marcus Garvey
This week and next Jamaica commemorates its 50th anniversary of Independence as well as 174 years of Emancipation from slavery. In the midst of all the celebratory events, some of us might question how independent or free we really are as a nation, with all the economic, social and political challenges that continue to hinder our productivity and prosperity.
In true Jamaican style, most of us will 'tek kin teet kibba heart bun' and enjoy the festivities, putting aside our concerns until after the holidays. However, all too soon, the pressing problems will resurface and vie for our urgent attention. When it comes to money, it seems that both the country and many of its citizens are still trapped in economic slavery.
What are some of the ways in which you can be held captive by the shackles of financial bondage?
If you're finding it hard to afford even the basic necessities of life, you may feel distressed about your inability to provide for your family. If you borrow to finance your expenses, you will eventually become trapped in a never-ending cycle of debt. If you become desperate about your problems, then deep-seated fears about money can develop that may prevent you from finding solutions.
For this month's money mission, let's look at some of the ways to break free of these issues that can inhibit your financial progress.
Freedom from financial hardship
For most people, their main money concern is not being able to make ends meet on their current salary. Living hand to mouth, there is little enjoyment in life as all their income has to be directed into paying bills. They are often just a pay cheque away from financial collapse, as they have no money put aside to deal with emergencies such as illness or loss of job.
In today's economy, it is challenging for most people to earn enough from their regular occupation. Factor in the masses of persons who have been laid off or are unable to find work, and it becomes clear that you can't depend solely on traditional forms of employment to supply the daily bread to meet your needs as well as the butter to satisfy your wants.
To break free of the financial hardship which insufficient income can bring, you need to learn how to generate money from your own efforts. Don't be dependent on a job to earn; find ways to use your talents and hobbies to create cash in your spare time. Look for income ideas online and in entrepreneur magazines, and offer useful products or services to your friends and family for profit.
Freedom from financial debt
I think that there is a new type of slave existing in modern-day Jamaica — one who is severely indebted and gives the majority of his salary to multiple loan agencies. Proverbs 22:7 declares, "the borrower is servant to the lender", and these persons work every day trying in vain to pay off various financial institutions and loan sharks.
Whether they are in debt because of careless spending, a budget shortfall or an unavoidable emergency, the result is the same -- they are caught in a vicious cycle of borrowing that can go on for years until their credit limit or their luck runs out. Their continued stream of interest outflows ensures that they will never be able to create wealth for themselves.
To escape from indebtedness, you first need to assess your situation. Download a debt tracker from the financial tools section of www.financiallysmart.org and put all your loans on one sheet. Ask for help at your financial institution to find solutions to reduce your monthly payments and consolidate your debt; and use a detailed budget to keep your spending on track.
Freedom from financial fears
When people are scared about their financial situation, it's common for them to try to ignore their reality. They leave bills and bank statements unopened because they can't handle the stress. They don't answer their telephones because they know that the collectors are calling. They avoid talking about important goals such as retirement because they know they have no money to save.
While their colleagues, friends and family may be unaware of their money problems; deep inside, these persons are racked with trepidation about their financial future. In The 9 Steps to Financial Freedom, financial advisor Suze Orman asserts, "The trouble with fears is that when we keep them inside and refuse to deal with them, they grow, like weeds left alone in a garden."
To release yourself from financial fear, you need to be honest about your situation, determine the root cause of your anxiety and look for a solution. Do you fear that you will be homeless if you can't find the rent one month? Then look for a secondary income source that will supply that additional sum. Examine each concern and make provisions to deal with them if they ever came to pass.
So, you don't have to remain in financial bondage forever — have courage and take action to break free!
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.