Representatives from leading banks, insurance and credit unions recently gave advice to students, staff and faculty at The Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute (BTVI) that is expected to put them on the road to financial success.
The financial wellness checkup was enlightening, yet sobering, particularly when CFAL’s Senior Research Analyst, Jamaal Stubbs spoke of the financial condition of many Bahamians.
“We’re thankful for forums like this because as a people, we are living from month to month. The average Bahamian has less than $1,000 in the bank,” said Mr. Stubbs.
He noted that there are affordable investment products the average person can take advantage of.
Mr. Stubbs was joined by Sherell Conliffe, Senior Wealth Manager, Family Guardian; Suzette G. Moss, Senior Accounts Manager, Royal Bank of Canada; Stephanie Missick-Jones, General Manager, The Bahamas Cooperative League Ltd. and Dexter Bodie, Business Analyst, BAF Financial.
A BTVI employee expressed how beneficial the workshop was and what the way forward is for her. “It opened my eyes. I now see that I wasn’t budgeting as I should have been. It changed my thoughts of the way I budget and spend my money,” she said.
“I want to invest so I can also leave something for when I have children. I want to live comfortably,” said the 30-year-old.
According to Ms. Conliffe, it is important to begin saving, even if it is a small sum. “The amount doesn’t matter, but the consistency, and your expenses should never exceed your income. If so, you’re living at a deficit,” she stated.
Furthermore, Ms. Conliffe warned of borrowing for “frivolous” reasons. “Borrow for assets which will increase your overall well-being. If you have to borrow for a vacation, you can’t afford it. Save towards it. Now is the ideal time and I’m thankful for BTVI for taking this on as most of you are entering the workforce,” she said.
Echoing his counterpart during the financial wellness checkup, Mr. Bodie also spoke to the importance of using wisdom when dealing with loans. “The bulk of what you pay goes to interest. It’s not until about half way through the loan do your payments go to the principal. The benefit of making principal payments on top of your regular payment is your balance drops. It shortens the life of the loan and you save some money,” he said.
Chiming in, Ms. Missick-Jones noted that although consolidating loans results in a lower monthly payment, some people make the mistake of getting into further debt with the funds that have been freed up. She advised against this.
Additionally, Mr. Bodie went on to caution attendees about the use of credit cards. “If you have a credit card, don’t splurge. Use credit cards when you need to because you will pay a cost and that cost is interest,” he stressed.
While acknowledging the importance of credit, Ms. Moss advised that payments be made on time and above the minimum required.
Meanwhile, BTVI’s Coordinator of Student Affairs, Racquel Bethel, was pleased the students were armed with information about what financial products and services are available.
“We wanted them to know the importance of how to create and maintain a budget and even investment plans for the future,” said Ms. Bethel.
“Some young people feel they will be young forever. Life is short. They have to plan early and in doing so, they have a greater chance to be successful in the future. If you’re not financially well, it impacts every other area of your life,” she stated.
The Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute (BTVI)
Caption: BAF Financial’s Business Analyst, Dexter Bodie, spoke candidly to attendees of BTVI’s financial wellness workshop.