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If you’ve ever been in a long-term relationship, especially if you’re married or living together, I can almost be sure that you’ve had a money fight. If you’re one of the lucky few couples who never had a money fight, my advice to you – keep talking to each other and taking into consideration each others financial goals.

When it comes to money, one of the biggest causes of problems in relationship is differences in values, goals and habits, especially when it comes to talking about money issues.

There is a saying – Money can’t buy love, but it sure can tear it apart.

While I can’t say that my fiancée and I are perfect when it comes to money matters and relationships, I can say that we’ve come a long way when it come it handling our money matters, and now we rarely ever have money disagreements. We are in a much more solid relationship these days – we learned how to talk about money, and how to align our financial goals.

Learning how to talk about money and how to align your financial goals is the core of this post. If you can do those two things, there is a stronger chance that your relationship is on solid ground and you’ve accomplish more than most couples.

Sit and talk about each others financial goals and values. It seems obvious and sensical, but many couples often neglect this step, because talking about finances can be uncomfortable – especially in the early stages of a relationship. Many times these important things are left unsaid and often don’t even think about it individually. That’s a mistake, as one person might want to be penny-wise in order to save for future goals, while the other might like to spend and enjoy things now, while the getting is good. The differences often come from different upbringings. But it doesn’t have to be difficult, just tell you partner you would like to sit down and talk about the future – what your goals are and how you can work together, as a team, to achieve them. In the beginning Liuda (my fiancée) and I just started spitting out different things each of us wanted – a house next to the beach, kids, going back to school, traveling around the Caribbean, tech gadgets, and etc.

Then start to prioritize, and see if you can come up with things in common. If you want different things, it is important that you talk about why, and consider the other person’s desires. If that’s what makes the other person happy, you should want to make them happy — that’s the basis of a good relationship, where both individuals are happy within the relationship.

Remove emotions from financial talk. It’s important that the two of you stay calm, from the first meetings about financial goals to your subsequent monthly talks. Try looking at these issues objectively without getting hurt or angry over any of the issues. Often financial issues are tied up in all kinds of emotional issues, from a previous relationship, from childhood or maybe if your way of spending is criticized in any way by your partner. With financial issues these emotional issues most times are tangled together. It’s important that you untangle them and just deal with financial goals and habits.

Don’t go blaming the other person or even be negatively critical. Simply talk about your financial goals, developing a plan for getting to those goals, developing a system for dealing with finances, and so forth. Again, think of this as a team effort, not as a you-vs-me effort.
Come up with a plan to meet your goals. You need a plan to get there. Once you’re able to come up with some common financial goals that already is a huge step (celebrate!). I’m talking about thinks like your joint income, your debt, your savings, how much you can put towards debt and/or saving each month, whether you want to cut back on certain things in order to meet your savings goals, how long you want to give yourself to meet financial goals, and so forth. Having a definite time-frame for each goal is a good start, and figure out how much you will need to pay towards debt and save each month to get to your goals. Don’t be upset that you might need to cut back on some things, or need to earn some extra income-or both.

This plan to meet your goals is how you will align your daily and monthly spending with your long-term goals. It’s also a great way to resolve minor short-term dispute — you should definitely buy fewer shoes, and I should buy fewer video games, so we can buy that house in three years. 🙂

Above all, stay positive and be honest. Remember: you’re a team and you want each other to be happy while working towards common goals. Team members can help each other out and encourage each other, or they can rip the team apart by being negative, by blaming, by working against common goals. Try staying positive and you’ll succeed as a team. Lastly, make sure love is the foundation of everything of you do.

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Sometime ago, my friend and fellow blogger Dan Tanner shared his thoughts on the education system here in Dominica. While his thoughts were unique and were directed more towards how women – not get the same rights and opportunities as men in Dominica.

One thing I’ve learn about the whole education system here in Dominica, and in most Caribbean countries – that our school system (in general) is not giving kids the basic reading, writing, arithmetic and science skills needed to be competitive in the high-tech world out there (at least, that’s my general assumption, and let’s not argue it here).

Many kids enter primary and secondary schools were they’re taught these basic subjects, but we all know that there is much more to life that those basic subjects and unless you have an exceptional (thinking outside the box) teacher who is willing to break out of the mold, your child isn’t learning the crucial things he or she needs to learn in life. It’s a whole new ball game whenever you step out in the real world as an adult and if you’re not equipped, then you’re going to be left behind.

Think about your own personal experience for a moment. When you got out of high school, did you know everything you needed in order to survive in life, let alone succeed? If you were lucky, you knew how to read and had some basic history and math skills, and if you were even luckier, you had good study habits that would serve you well in college.

Most likely you were not prepared for life, unless you had parent who did you that favor. It’s a fact, many of us screwed up our early adult lives because we didn’t know those necessary skills – and we’re paying the consequences now.

That’s a part of life, you might say, learning these lessons. But it’s also possible to prepare your child a bit before they go out on their own, and if we can’t get the schools to teach these skills, then you should do it ourselves.

The following is a basic curriculum in life that a child should know before reaching adulthood. Probably there are many other skills you can add to this list, but at least it’s a starting point.

Also please note – that these subjects should not be taught by lectures or textbooks. They can only be taught by setting examples, by everyday conversations, by showing, and allowing the child (or teenage) to experience these things on their own (with you supervision at first). Once you’ve walked them through the skill a few times under your supervision, give you child the trust t it on his/her own and to let them learn from their own mistakes. Just be sure to check back every now and then.

Financial

  • Saving. Don’t spend more than what you earn, so simple and yet very few young adults understand it or know how to follow. Teach your child from a early age to put part of money he/she receives or earns in the bank. Teach them how to set a savings goal.

  • Credit. For many adults this is a major problem. Teach them how to avoid it when it’s not necessary, and how to avoid getting into too much debt, and how to use a credit card responsibly.

  • Retirement. It’s important to start investing in retirement when you’re young and should be aware of the different options available. Also know the pros and cons of each, and how to do each.

Thinking skills

  • Reading. Sure, kids are taught to read (well most of them), but school often make reading boring. Show your child the wonderful imaginative worlds there are out there. And show them how to find out about stuff in the world through the Internet, and how to evaluate what they read for credibility, and logic.

  • Critical Thinking. Nowadays, we are taught to be robots, to listen to the teacher and not to question, to accept what we are told and not to think, to be good employees and to shut up. Critical thinking is one of the most important skills not taught in school.

Success

  • Motivation. Teach your child that discipline isn’t the key to achieving a goal, but its motivation and passion. Show them how great it feels to achieve a goal. Start them with small, easily achievable goals, and let them develop this skill.

  • Procrastination. It’s a problem we all deal with as adults (and even as kids). Now, I believe that there should be a time for goofing off, being lazy, and having fun. But when there’s something to do that we really need to do, how do we get ourselves to do it? Learn the reasons behind procrastination, and how to address them. How to beat procrastination?

Practical

  • Cleaning. Nowadays too many adults grow up without knowing how to do laundry, to clean a house properly and keeping it clean. Develop a weekly and monthly cleaning routine. Teach your child all these things instead of just telling her what to do.

  • Organization. How to keep things organized and in their place; to keep a to-do list, how to set routines, how to focus on the important tasks.

Happiness

  • Enjoy life. Kids don’t have much of a problem with this, but some awareness of its importance and how to do it, even as an adult would be helpful. Set a good example of this, and your kids will follow.

  • Find purpose. Teach your children the importance of this and show how to do it yourself. Whether the purpose is making your family happy or the purpose of finding your calling, having a purpose in life is extremely important.

Do you have any skills to add to this list? Let us hear them in the comments.

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A difficult challenge in accomplishing goals is simply remaining aware of them and staying on track. Honestly, how many times have you set a goal, started working on it with the best of intentions, and then couple days late, you become conscious that it somehow slipped through the cracks?

Even here in Dominica where it’s under populated and under developed, outside influences apply forces to knock us off track. And if you have a busy life, these influences can come many times each day. Phone calls. Emails. Postal mail. A new memo. A drop-in visitor. New items to add to your to do list nearly everyday. New things to think about; but most are just distractions from what’s really important – your goals.

We therefore must apply a countering force to get back on track, pointing ourselves back towards our goals again and again. Reviewing your goals once a month or once a week is just too infrequent. I find I must review my major goals every single day, and if the day is filled with a lot of distractions, then I must do it several times a day. Otherwise I start getting too far off course, lured into working on what’s merely important instead of what’s mostly important. It’s a process of constantly re-checking your actions and figuring out the correct next step.

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