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What can we as Caribbean people do to be more responsible for their financial situations?

What can we teach our children so that when the next economic downturn comes along they’ll be prepared.

One possible answer is to become better educated about what it takes to be financially secure. It’s no easy task, under the present circumstances, when so many of the different islands are struggling to get a financial foot-hold on their economy.

But besides educating our children about financial responsibility, we must keep a positive attitude, and more importantly passing on this behavior to our kids.

Here are some simple lessons we can teach kids as a part of their long-term preparation for adulthood. Not forget the basics: spend less, save and (cautiously) invest more, and always follow a plan.

1. Start by being honest with yourself about your situation, and then take positive steps to better understand and cope with your present situation.

2. Manage and track your spending.

3. Start a savings account, and save as much as you can.

4. Reduce credit card spending — try your best to stay out off debt.

5. Continue to learn — you are protecting yourself when you maintain a marketable skill.

6. Maintain health insurance.

7. Open a retirement account and add to it monthly. Take responsibility for your own future.

Even in a fluctuating job market, consider yourself capable, and acknowledge your potential by maintaining a positive attitude, and being kind to yourself. Recognizing the significance of our contributions and the validity of our participation, is an important factor in the development of our self-concept. It also helps build the confidence we’ll need to get over the financial hump.

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There are lots of people who enjoy keeping busy and even holding down jobs all the way into their old age years. In a recent post I asked the question “When Last Have You Thought About Your Retirement Income?“, I discovered that a large number of people are considering skipping out on retirement altogether and prefer staying employed for a long as they are physically able. My boss is a perfect example – for the past sevens years she’s been planning on retiring.

Yet around Caribbean there also tons of people who just don’t have a choice but to keep on working beyond the age of 60 which is the average age for retirement, simply because they haven’t saved enough for their retirement or didn’t start saving early enough.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could retire on our own terms to pursue the things we’d like do. Taking on a job in our senior years is something that should be voluntary and not a requirement. And though the idea of retirement may be a big change for many people – many prefer to continue working instead of relaxing – retirement is still a goal that everyone one of us should aspire to attain, just so we get to control whatever time we’ve remaining in this world.

For all those who are not workaholics like me 🙂 and who would like to retire on time, here are some great tips I came across over at TheDigeratiLife.com – a blog which writes about money, personal finance, geeks and cyberspace in the silicon valley.

Start investing early.

This is by far the most important recommendation made to anyone who would like to retire on time. It’s one of the most ubiquitous tips I’ve read about investing, and for good reason: the earlier you start investing, the longer the magical power of compounding can work on your funds, thereby ensuring you a healthy retirement.

Invest with any amount you can afford.

A lot of people make the excuse that they don’t save and invest because they just CAN’T. I know someone who says he just cannot afford opening a retirement account because all of his income goes to supporting his family. Yet he’s a heavy smoker and drives a fairly expensive car that requires some maintenance. With some adjustments and heartfelt effort, he could very well be on his way to building a decent retirement nest egg. Freeing up even just a $100 a month to put in an investment account is really all that it takes to build a simple, diversified investment portfolio.

Avoid procrastination and letting life “take over”.

Let’s face it, thinking about retirement and more generally — financial management — may not be the most exciting thing in the world. We’re faced with distractions on a daily basis and we’re living busy, hectic lives. If you’re like me, you’re constantly wondering where all your time has gone, by the end of the day. So its way too easy and tempting to have our financial matters take a backseat to everything else; but by going along this path, we may eventually find ourselves in our middle age with meager savings. Being more proactive about our finances and taking a more serious look at our long term financial goals should help us avoid this plight.

——- Personal Note ——–
Forget how hard the economy is presently, the early you apply these tips together if whatever ideas you’ve – the better chance you’ll have not to work in your retirement years. Though I believe a lot of people will agree with me – that it will be fun to keep working all the way into grey years. Once you do it on your own terms.

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Not long ago, I was approached by one of those insurance sales guys, yes – the kind that will just call you up at work or meet you on the street, and just start telling you about how insurance is a great thing to have just in case shit happens (so what happens if shit never happens, don’t think I should get back my money). Honestly, I’m not a big fan on Insurance plans, particularly life insurance plans – health insurance yes but life Insurance no thanks. I prefer taking my changes saving my money in a high interest savings account or invest in some other type to longterm investment.

But this is not my topic for this post, maybe sometime in the future I will write a post on why I not a big fan of life Insurance plan, but for now let’s talk about the retirement in Dominica. After talking with the Insurance guy, I started thinking about my retirement and would I be able to main this comfort life style I’m living now into retirement years. Presently I’m 29 years, and besides social security and my personal savings account – my retirement years looks very dismal. True, if I save as much money as I can that by the time I’m 60 I will have a substantial amount of money in my savings. The only problem with these savings accounts, the bank interest rates are horrible – at least in the Caribbean. Read my post on: Why Banks Exists?

So I began ask myself some really simple questions (suggest you do the same):

1. Do I want to work forever at something or do you want a true retirement?
2. How much money do I want bring home on each paycheck?
3. How much lower could that paycheck be before it would bother my life style?
4. Do I have any documentation about my retirement plan at work?

After answering these simple questions I got a better prospective on my retirement goals, rather than having to be talking about complicated (Insurance) plans and confusing numbers.

On the other hand, there are lots of people who are just the opposite and like running the numbers. If that works for you, go right ahead. But if you’re like me, and don’t like numbers too much, try answering the questions.

Another great way to get some great insight on retirement, is to have as many discussions with people who are already in retirement. Listen to their opinions and figure out what you think will work best for your retirement goals.

——— Personal Note ———

My retirement goal is to have true retirement, but not with much free money to spend. I want to work at least part time in retirement doing something I enjoy doing or contributing something back to the community. Basically, my baby-boom years will not be all about boat cruises and watching the grandkids. 🙂

Photo Source:Corbis Photography

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