JIS News

With the local economy still buckling under the effects of the global recession, many Jamaicans are still finding it difficult to meet their financial needs in these tough times.
Financial adviser and founder of Financially S.M.A.R.T. Services, Cherryl Hanson Simpson, says there are only two things to do when there is not enough money to meet one’s needs, “cut back on spending, or earn more money.”
Mrs. Hanson Simpson suggests that one of the best ways to cut back, is by reducing non-essential spending.
“It’s smart to be prudent with your money at this time, so don’t spend too much money on non-essential expenses such as entertainment or clothing,” she cautions.
“In the past, shoppers could just pick up their favourite brand name items without concern for price; now you must scrutinise prices to ensure you’re getting the best deals,” she states.
Mrs. Hanson Simpson says normally it would be smart to buy foodstuff in bulk to benefit from wholesale prices but, in these times, it might be wiser to buy just what is needed and keep the extra cash to meet unexpected expenses.
“Also, if you examine some of the wholesale discounts, you’ll realise that you really aren’t saving that much per item to warrant tying up your money on things you might not need right away,” she suggests.
“You have to know beforehand if you’re going to run out of cash to meet your expenses and, if so, the amount of your projected shortfall,” she says.
“If your calculations reveal that your expenses outweigh your income, you have to find solutions to create more incoming cash. The shortfall figure gives you a target amount to balance your budget,” she explains.
She recommends that for individuals to meet their shortfall, it might be necessary to find ways to earn some extra cash. But what can one do to make more money when everyone is cutting back on spending?
Mrs. Hanson Simpson says there are two things to note: One, people will still pay money for things they consider basic needs; and two, not everyone in the world is broke.
She suggests that one of the main ways individuals can earn extra cash is to provide essential items at a competitively cheaper cost.
“There are two things that Jamaicans can’t seem to do without – food and phone credit. If you can supply these items at a cheaper cost, then you will find ready customers,” she suggests.
“Let’s say your budget shortfall is J$15,000 per month, if you break that amount down into a daily figure, you would need to earn J$500 per day. If you can sell something and make J$50 profit from 10 customers or J$25 from 20 customers, then you’re in the money,” she explains.
What can you do to make this profit? Mrs. Hanson Simpson suggests preparing sandwiches or salads that can be retailed for less than J$100, or joining a programme that allows you to sell phone credit right from your phone.
“Depending on your selling price, you can make up to J$20 profit on a J$100 phone card,” she says.
Communications Specialist at the Consumer Affairs Commission (CAC), Dorothy Campbell, says family members can share the various responsibilities, financial and otherwise, in the home to take some of the pressure and stress off the main breadwinner.
“What we ask consumers to do is to do a full assessment of what their current situation is, in terms of what their needs are and what are the things that they would want to do. And you would bring the entire family in, including the children, to determine exactly what those needs are and how you’re going to prioritise,” she observes.
Miss Campbell also says that despite the financial climate, families should not neglect preparing nutritious and wholesome meals. The CAC last year published a booklet titled, “Eating Right, When Money Tight”, which looks at preparing nutritious and attractive meals for the family on a tight budget.
“So we ask the family to be a little bit more creative in utilising what (they) have – don’t go so much for brand name and so on, but for the nutritional value. In some instances it might mean establishing a back yard garden, or if you don’t have a back yard, establishing a container garden,” she insists.
In this garden, families can come together and plant various vegetables that are easy to care for, including okra, callaloo and tomatoes, to help them reduce their expenses. Vegetables are going to be very expensive in another three to six months, because of the drought, so it makes sense to try to alleviate some of the stress.
She says, in terms of petrol and other necessities, the CAC publishes the various prices in its Consumer Alert bulletin, which appears in the daily newspapers, and that consumers should seek to go where the bargains are.
“We don’t say drive out of your route to get the best price, but if it is within your plan go to where you can get the item for a lesser cost. The CAC continues to advise consumers to shop around,” she notes.
“You have to be smart. It’s not strictly financial, but you have to take every aspect of what constitutes a family and all their concerns and put that into how you’re going to operate. How you’re going to manage the finances that you have, and how you’re going to live through what we see as one of the most challenging times in recent times for Jamaica,” she adds.
For further assistance consumers can call the CAC at 978-4998 or visit its website at www.cac.gov.jm