Break the 'bruk-pocket' cultureSunday, July 30, 2017
BY JOVANEY ASHMAN
Personal financial strategist Kenisha Mais is encouraging Government and parents, to tackle the 'bruk pocket' culture sweeping the nation by teaching children the importance of money management, as early as kindergarten.
Mais, founder of financial management outfit Thriving Dollars, was among the line-up of presenters at Keep Growing, a young professionals conference at the Spanish Court Hotel on Wednesday. Speaking with the Jamaica Observer post event, Mais said the current economic woes that Jamaicans face are the result of conditioning from childhood.
“How we were raised, taught, and what we heard growing up; how we heard our parents talk about money; and how you interacted with money from a young age, have influenced us. It could be that your mother used to send you to shop to trust; it could be that you used to see your mother take things on credit so, then it becomes normalised to you that debt and credit is okay, and you start to pattern the behaviours that you saw growing up.
“So, mommy used to take things on credit, mommy used to send me a shop to trust so, I'm going to shop to trust,” said Mais.
This conditioning and patterning, Mais argued, is a big problem, as the attitude mixes with the spender's emotions, consequently influencing their behaviours, mostly for the worse.
“Your feeling about money might change in terms of when things are little bit good then you are good to be around because you're cheerful, but when things become a little bit tighter then you become resentful of everything. You don't like your boss because yuh not getting enough pay; you don't like your co-worker because she's asking you to do too much things and you're not paid to do her work, and these things influence how you start to talk to yourself,” said Mais.
Mais, who admits to hating mathematics, believes that financial literacy can fix this growing “endemic”, since it does not involve complex concepts such as trigonometry or Pythagoras' theorem. Instead, it requires understanding “what makes money come in and what makes it go out”.
Financial literacy refers to the set of skills and knowledge that allows an individual to make informed and effective decisions with all of their financial resources.
“You have to prioritise yourself and the life you want to create using this money that is coming in because, for a lot of us, what we tend to do is think that when we don't have enough money we say let me earn some more, and the problem with that is, we keep on out-earning our spending pattern because something is going to always come up, and then we feel like we are in a tight squeeze again,” Mais argued.
She explained that Jamaicans do not have a money problem — they have an education problem.
“ All of us have been handling money since we were pickneys and our parents were sending us to school. So, we used to get lunch money but nobody told us how to manage money. So the problem isn't the money itself, but the education,” Mais noted.
Conversely, Mais encourages earners to treat themselves, but not be controlled by the “I-deserve-it-itis” nature, which is essentially the feeling that we always deserve something.
“It was a hard week, so I deserve to go out and eat. It was a rough month, so I deserve this pair of shoes. I worked hard for my money so, I deserve to do this. But, what you fail to realise is that you are sabotaging your future. It is not that you can't do nice things because it doesn't matter how much you owe, you have to do something for yourself.
“What this means is that you might not be able to afford to do the whole dining experience but you maybe can do a manicure or a pedicure or something simpler, because you do not want financial management to become a stress or burden.”
The one-day workshop was intended to provide resources to help young adults across Kingston, St Andrew, and St Catherine transition from students to successful employees, and for young employees to fast-track their career to management positions.
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