There is a saying that goes “with no positivity, there is no hope; with no negativity, there is no improvement.” The financial hardships that we as Trinbagonians are currently facing may hint at better things to come in the future. For too long, successive governments have relied on oil, a finite commodity subject to external price shocks, to generate income and GDP. Several calls for diversification from economists and citizens alike for what feels like decades now, have fallen on deaf ears. The time may now come where we can finally see this idea come to fruition. The fact remains, however, that at least for the short and medium term we will be faced with a downturn in the economic fortunes of this wonderful twin island.
The precipitous decline in energy commodity prices which started since the beginning of 2014 coupled with the gas shortage and immense fall in oil production has meant that government has had little to no other option but to increase or introduce new taxes to generate revenue. This is evidenced by the much controversial implementation of the Property tax which should take effect in 2018. The option of which filing your documentation before the deadline was a necessity or against the law, depending on what side of the political fence you stand on, but I digress.
It is easy for us to forget the economic situation we are faced with when we are more worried about the next Scorch boat cruise, the effects of Tropical Storm Bret and the latest iteration of Samsung’s flagship phone the Galaxy S8.
But with several hikes in the gas price and thus cost of living (gas price increase essentially makes all commodities more expensive) and challenging economic times ahead, I am here to provide some words of advice that will help us all live just a tad bit more comfortably during this recessionary period.
Here are my tips for surviving the economic recession:
TIP #1: Have an Emergency Fund
Within the last eighteen months, we have witnessed the closure of the Mittal steel plant, Tourism Development Company (TDC), the laying off of a number of government workers and restructuring of many privately-owned companies just to name a few. Government statistics will suggest that despite this, unemployment remains relatively low. I hold my own opinions on this matter but that is a topic for another day. As a young boy growing up, however, I was told that as a rule of thumb an engagement ring should cost three month’s salary. Well guys, that’s not the only reason for saving three month’s salary. Prudent financial advice also suggests that at a minimum, an individual should have three month’s salary in savings. To be on the safe side, I will recommend a safety net of six months in order to safeguard against potential job loss or changes in the economic climate.
TIP #2: Budget and Pay off debts
Carrying debt is essentially a burden. In a life where we are faced with job stress, traffic pile ups that exist even on a Sunday now and $5 doubles (yes there was a time when I remember it was $2), debt is the last thing you want added to your plate. Establish a budget that accurately reflects the money coming into your household and manage your money better. Do not attempt to use your credit card until you have cleared off the entire balance. Amazon is already a multi-billion dollar company, they do not need any more of your money now do they!
TIP# 3: Downsize
This may be a difficult pill to swallow but the frequent trips to Miami and New York on the long weekend need to become a thing of the past. Instead, make more conscious spending decisions that reduce expenses and use that saved income to invest either to generate passive income or save for a rainy day.
TIP#4: Diversify your income
I assume most of us are familiar with the old adage, “don’t put all your eggs in one basket”. Well the same can be said about our income.
Relying solely on one source of income brings with it inherent risks. Have tertiary level qualifications? How about using it to teach secondary school kids on weekends? Have a special skill like arts and crafts? Set up an art gallery and sell your paintings. I could go on and on, but be creative: where there is a will there is a way.
TIP#5: Diversify your investments
With all the new found income that you have thanks to downsizing, diversifying and budgeting your income, use it to create a portfolio of investments that counter inflation and leave you smiling in the face of recession. Firstline Securities Limited has a team of devoted wealth managers that can tailor your risk appetite and savings to your liking. Remember every year that goes by, your physical money is worth less and less. Think the concept of the time value of money. Contact our office today, we will be more than willing to help you manage your money.