Over the last two months, the buzz word across the Barbadian landscape was “making sense of your dollars; safeguarding your future” as the Ministry of Energy, Small Business and Entrepreneurship held a number of financial literacy clinics at various centres across the island.
And these were occasioned by the official launch of the Financial Literacy Bureau on October 25, 2020, to encourage citizens to become better money managers in business and in the household.
The Barbados Government Information Service sat in on the session ‘Making Your Money Work for You’ at the Ellerton Community Centre, St. George, with facilitator Maureen Browne, a Human Resources (HR) Consultant and Performance Coach.
During the session, participants benefitted from a pep talk on investment and how persons can make their “hard earned” money work for them; spending money wisely, especially during retirement; and using the credit card wisely.
Ms. Browne explained that there were other methods persons could use to track their spending: “The resources we use to track our finances can be as basic as recording every penny spent, by using a notebook and making sure that when you get the receipts you keep them, even if you transfer them to one of your electronic devices, whether it is a computer, tablet or a phone.”
“I would suggest that you pay more than the minimum balance; be consistent in paying back the amount and pay on time; avoid getting into more debt while paying back the debt already owed on the card.”HR Specialist Maureen Browne speaking on how to manage your credit card.
She continued: “There are lots of free apps you can download on one of your devices, if not all…. If you are out and about and you do not have your notebook on you and you can’t pull up the app at the same time, you can do a voice note to yourself…that is also a way of keeping track. By doing this, we want to be sure that you can be disciplined to create a budget and stick with it.”
The HR specialist also imparted advice on how to handle credit cards. “I would suggest that you pay more than the minimum balance; be consistent in paying back the amount and pay on time; avoid getting into more debt while paying back the debt already owed on the card,” Ms. Browne advised.
Another topic discussed during the session was debt consolidation as a means of freeing up extra cash for a rainy day.
Ms. Browne told participants they should speak to their financial institution about consolidating their loans; get advice from close friends about their experiences, or seek further guidance from a financial expert.
“You want to pay attention to the interest rate…. Pay attention to the length of the payback period and what are the best loans to consolidate if you have more than one, two, three or four loans,” she underlined.
The facilitator also touched on investing and the pitfalls that should be avoided when undertaking such ventures. “Again, I am going to go back to getting the expert advice. One of the basic rules we use is, ‘don’t put all your eggs in one basket’. The second one is, you must have an investment plan; it helps to keep you focused and to make your informed decisions. Remember also, the higher the return on that investment, the greater the risk you are taking. When investing, you should only invest what you can afford to lose. Also, look at starting with small amounts of money and then you can increase the amount of money that you are investing and start with the safest investment first,” Ms. Browne shared.
The Performance Coach and HR Specialist also encouraged prospective investors to research the various investment options out there, before selecting an option.
“As you do your research, it would tell which are the safest…. It says usually government bonds, mutual funds or debentures. All I am saying is that you need to do your research!” Ms. Browne emphasised.
“You want to pay attention to the interest rate…. Pay attention to the length of the payback period and what are the best loans to consolidate if you have more than one, two, three or four loans.”HR Specialist Maureen Browne giving advice on loans.
The participants were all appreciative of the advice given. Attendee Lyn-Marie Martin said: “She made a good presentation on investment and making your money earn for you by not just having it there, but by letting it earn some more for you.”
Similarly, retiree Ancil Beckles’ take-away from the session was using the credit card wisely and managing a smaller budget.
“Now that I am retired, there is not a lot of money around, so I tend to pay a lot more attention about what I spend my money on. I do not have a budget, but I have a good idea about the income that is coming in. After the session, I will pay greater attention to the use of my credit card because I find that can become a stranglehold.”
Persons interested in learning more about the Financial Literacy Bureau or the satellite clinics, may call the Ministry of Energy, Small Business and Entrepreneurship at 535-7700.