Most of us welcomed in 2010 with sighs of relief; giving thanks that the challenges of the past year were finally behind us. However, despite offering best wishes to friends and family, we may actually doubt that the aspiration “Have a Prosperous New Year”can be realised over the next 12 months.
Even if we managed to ignore the discussions about Jamaica’s economic crisis during the festive season, reality was abruptly thrust upon us on January 1 when the new tax increases were implemented. As I noted the dramatic jump in petrol prices, it became even more obvious to me that we were in for a financially challenging time this year.
The pragmatists and pessimists are warning us about impending job losses, increasing poverty levels and inevitable social upheavals. At the same time, some business and political leaders are declaring that Jamaica is poised to benefit from myriad opportunities that always abound in periods of crisis. Where does our future really lie?
Jamaica – A Paradox of Possibilities
In some respects, the country’s economic woes are mirrored in the financial problems of many Jamaicans. The development of the country and its residents is being crippled by inadequate productive output to meet basic needs; overwhelming debt incurred for irresponsible consumption; and the absence of enlightened planning for future goals.
Is it any wonder that individually and collectively we are worried about our economic prospects?
Ironically, while we wallow in our monetary mess, the rest of the world is fascinated with Jamaica. Hundreds of thousands of people want to participate in the excitement and energy that we bring to the fields of music, sports, food, fashion and culture. However, while other countries are reaping financial windfalls from our brand, here in Jamaica we seem to be incapable of fully taking advantage of our opportunities.
Changing Attitudes and Actions
As we enter into a new decade, we cannot continue to operate as we have in the past. Although we are demanding better fiscal management from those in charge, we need to realise that our personal financial practices have a direct bearing on the success or failure of the country as a whole.
As we search for solutions, it is important to note that efforts of our government ministers and big business owners will not be enough to take us out of this crisis. Jamaica will only be able to survive the coming challenges if each and every one of us starts to transform our thoughts, words and deeds towards achieving financial progress.
It’s now the perfect time to decide to make a difference in 2010. Here are some practical steps that you can take that will create a ripple effect on the overall economy:
1. Be Honest About Your Financial Situation
It’s time to stop pretending that everything is okay financially. If you have no clue about how much money you require to pay your bills, take the time to prepare a proper budget. You can download one at www.financiallysmartonline.com in the financial tools section. Examine your spending habits – are there areas where you’re wasting money? Be realistic about your income – do you need to earn more?
2. Manage Your Debt Effectively
It’s time to stop depending on debt to cover your budgetary shortfalls. Borrowing money for consumer needs must be your last resort, not your first choice. Too much of your future wealth has already been squandered in making interest payments for frivolous purchases that fade away. Let your mantra be: ‘If I don’t earn it, I can’t spend it.’
3. Use Your Resources Efficiently
It’s time to stop wasting precious minutes in unproductive activity. There are 24 hours in a day, how many of them do you use to generate an income? Are you sitting on your talents and assets instead of figuring out how you can earn from them? Focus on becoming more profitable by learning how to make more money this year.
4. Plan For long-Terms Goal
It’s time to stop focusing only on your short term needs. Start creating a vision for your future – what kind of lifestyle do you want for yourself and your family? You must establish action plans for home ownership, children’s education and retirement, even if you’re not sure where the money will come from yet.
5. Focus On Possibilities Instead of Problems
It’s time to stop complaining about money. Yes, you may have serious financial challenges; but instead of feeling sorry for yourself, be determined to find a way out. If you’re feeling afraid or confused about your finances, get help from a professional advisor and make every effort to implement the recommended solutions.
So let us resolve to become financially responsible by being more introspective, industrious and innovative. Just like the mythological phoenix which emerged from the ashes, we will rise again in 2010!
Copyright © 2010 Cherryl Hanson Simpson