How to make something out of 2010
Michelle Wilson-Reynolds - File photos
If central bank data on the amount of currency that was in circulation during the just-concluded holiday shopping season are to be believed, consumers, despite the anxiety over the new tax package, had a jolly good Christmas after all. The Bank of Jamaica reports that on Christmas Eve, reputed to be the busiest shopping day of the period, there was a whopping $54 billion in circulation. That is four per cent more than Christmas Eve 2008.
Now that the festivities are over, Jamaicans are getting back to business, back to work, back to school and back to reality. And if the dire predictions are anything to go by, it should be a harsh reality indeed. By now, we have all heard the projections for 2010, more of the same doom and gloom foretold by the experts and repeated ad nauseam by the man in the street - hard times ahead, little hope for anything positive, mostly cloudy conditions with almost no chance of sunshine.
But according to Michelle Wilson-Reynolds, a top executive in the Capital and Credit Financial Group (CCFG), despite the challenges, Jamaicans will continue to rise above them and accomplish great things.
"When we reflect over the past decades, between natural disasters and economic hardship, Jamaicans have proven themselves to be resilient, a tough people who know what to do when the going gets rough," says Wilson-Reynolds, the senior vice-president for group marketing and corporate affairs. She contends that Jamaicans have a unique inner strength which needs to be harnessed and used collectively as society comes together to navigate the tricky road ahead.
Still, relying on that innate sense of survival may not be enough to avoid the perils of the lingering recession. General manager for the Capital and Credit Merchant Bank, Moya Leiba-Barnes, says there are some tried and proven things people can do to ensure they stay afloat in the midst of turbulent financial waters. She insists that the importance of careful planning cannot be overstated. "We all make new year's resolutions, but this year more than ever, we will have to plan in order to have a good quality of life," she says.
Leiba-Barnes strongly recommends three practical things people can do to help make something out of 2010:
1. Do a budget and stick to it. Writing down some of the bills you pay is not enough. You have to consider all your expenditure and include the entire family in the budgeting process.
2. Save something every month. Regardless of the amount, it should be included as an item of priority in the budget and not whatever is left over after you have paid all the bills. Start teaching the children to save and get everyone involved in the effort.
3. Shop smarter. Begin to assess how you spend and identify ways to maximise the little you have. For example, buy ground provisions in the produce market rather than at the supermarket; determine if your household can manage bulk goods or whether it would be better to buy small amounts to avoid wastage.
In addition to managing one's money better, the Capital and Credit executives point to charitable giving as another key consideration as people go about trying to ensure their own welfare in the coming months. Wilson-Reynolds believes that everyone benefits when society cares for those in need.
"Healthier people make a happier nation, and a happier nation makes for more productive people. And right now, Jamaica is going to need all the productivity it can generate," she argues. Wilson-Reynolds urges the people of Jamaica to look out for those in their midst who may be struggling. "You are not always required to give a lot of money. You can give your time. Go and read in a school, feed the infirmed, donate the clothes you have that are in good order," she adds.