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Featured – Personal Finance Contributor to Potent Magazine’s Come Back Issue!

Potent Magazine Article on Caribbean Student Loans by Melisa Boutin

I am so excited to be a personal finance contributor to Potent Magazine’s Come Back Issue!

Potent Magazine is a digital and print magazine that is the authoritative voice on Caribbean culture and its global influence. The Come Back Issue is the first issue available in print and I am so honored to be a contributor!

You can read the digital version of my article ” Caribbean Student Loans Shouldn’t Be This Complicated” where I share about the challenges Caribbean borrowers face when dealing with Caribbean student loan lenders and the systematic changes that are long overdue, here.

You can also order a print copy of the magazine on Potent’s website, too.

Thank you to the Editor in Chief, Genice Phillips,  for creating such a needed publication that highlights the “beauty and power of the Caribbean people”.

3 Ways JMMB Can Improve Her Wealth To Really Make Caribbean Women Financially Strong

JMMB Her Wealth 3 Ways to Improve

It was interesting to see that Jamaica Money Market Brokers, Ltd. (JMMB) launched a suite of products for women, who already make up 59% of their client base and account for nearly 60 percent of revenue, in this Jamaica Gleaner online post. JMBB Her Wealth promises to provide tailored financial products to make women financially stronger and position the company for growth.

I was excited to check out these products and services on the JMMB Her Wealth webpage, that are divided into 4 categories:

her responsibility
  • An education plan for your children
  • maternity loan to cover those major expenses
  • Prepare with an emergency saving fund

her dreams
  • Secure home loans.
  • Education loan solutions.
  • Personalised savings and investing plans.

her independence
  • Secure your future with a retirement goal plan.
  • Access a working capital loan to help grow your business.
  • Personalised savings and investment plans.

her protection
  • 100% financing on auto loans.
  • Up to 15% discount on auto insurance. 
  • A family indemnity plan, to cover funeral expenses for you and your loved ones.

Related Article: How Caribbean Millennial Women Can Build A Financial Foundation While Supporting Extended Family

After checking out these wealth product offerings, I was surprised to see that retirement planning was not the first on the list under her responsibility and was trying to figure out how a maternity loan, education loans and 100% financing on auto loans together would help Caribbean women build wealth.

JMMB’s Her Wealth’s webpage did not provide specific details on the terms and conditions of these loans and why a woman, who likely would be experiencing a drop in income, should opt for a maternity loan.

Here are my thoughts on how JMMB can improve their offerings to really make women financially strong,

Shift Retirement to the Top of her responsibility

Women absolutely need to prioritize investing for retirement above any other parental or familial commitment. It would be great to see this fact reflected as the first order of business under her responsibility. And while I’m talking women’s priorities to themselves, women should minimize the use of education loans for their own advancement and would benefit from an education plan for themselves, as well, not just their children.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Caribbean women absolutely need to prioritize saving for their retirement” quote=”Caribbean women absolutely need to prioritize saving for their retirement, even before their children’s education funds.” theme=”style2″]

Replace Maternity Loans with Maternity Funds

Maternity loan and wealth in the same sentence, is perplexing enough, and  I really can’t imagine for a maternity loan can help women build wealth. A maternity fund as a replacement offering would help women be well prepared for the time they take off to bond with a newborn and care for herself, without going into debt and reducing her net worth.

[clickToTweet tweet=”It’s hard to figure out how @JMMBGroup can call a maternity loan ‘Her Wealth’… ” quote=”It’s hard to see how a maternity loan helps Caribbean women build wealth….” theme=”style2″]


Publish  Rates, Fees and Financial Education            Content Online

JMMB offers quarterly wellness workshops as an added benefit to its Her Wealth clientele, but in order for women, who are busy balancing varied responsibilities, to make informed decisions about financial products marketed to them, comprehensive information about fees, loan interest rates and investment options, need to be accessible online. This will simplify the process of comparison shopping and enable women to be well prepared before contacting a sales person.

Plus, since JMMB highlighted that women don’t trust themselves to make financial decisions, online educational content would be an even valuable benefit for the women to access 24/7.

Are you a woman considering JMMB’s Her Wealth products? What do you think about these new women-tailored products?

~ Melisa Boutin

Featured – Melisa Boutin for My Debt Epiphany’s Debt Mindset Series

Featured - Melisa Boutin on My Debt Epiphany Debt Mindset Series


I am excited to be featured as part of Chonce’s Debt mindset Series.

For the series, I talk about my debt situation and how I got into so much student loan debt in the first place; when I realized the debt was a problem; the strategies I used to pay off $37,000 of debt in 5 years, plus words of encouragement.


[clickToTweet tweet=”My biggest motivator is to be able live my life without debt and to realize that type of freedom ~ @MelisaBoutin” quote=”My biggest motivator is to be able live my life without debt and to realize that type of freedom”]

Head over to to read my entry and the other stories featured as part of this series: HERE.

~ Melisa Boutin


How I Paid Off $13,000 Of Credit Card & Student Loan Debt in 13 Months While Supporting Extended Family

How I Paid Off $13, 000 of Credit Card And Student Loan Debt in 13 Months While Supporting Extended Family

When you decide to get out of debt, it can be challenging to figure out how which debts to prioritize paying off first and how to make extra payments on debt while covering other financial commitments. When I completed graduate school in 2010, I was facing almost $65,000 in private and federal student loan debt and $3,000+ in credit card debt, while trying to support my extended family and starting a professional career in engineering consulting.

After 5 years I was able to pay off $37,000 of debt, while investing for retirement and saving for a down payment on a home. Today I want to share how I approached my journey to dump debt, during the first 13 months working at my full-time job out of school. I had a starting gross salary of $52, 000  and financial commitments that included covering my essentials like housing and transportation, providing support to my family who had recently immigrated to the United States from St. Kitts in the Caribbean, and my long term and short-terms savings goals.

Prioritizing My Debt Pay Off

One big question I faced was, which debts to prioritize first? I knew that I had to dump any debt with double-digit interest rates, like my credit cards, as fast as possible, but I also wanted to make a sizable dent in my student loan debts.

I ended up using a combination of approaches including the debt avalanche (paying off debts in the order of highest interest rate to lowest interest rate) and debt snowball (paying off debts in the order of lowest balance to the highest balance), as well as, the snowflake approach (sprinkling extra payments on multiple debts).

My approach shifted throughout those 13 months, depending on changing priorities, like building up cash in an emergency fund, or whether I was moving to a new housing situation (I moved 3 times during this period) and the changing financial needs of my extended family.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Paying off $13,000 of Debt in 13 months, by the numbers…” quote=”Paying off $13,000 of Credit Card & Student Loan Debt in 13 months, by the numbers” theme=”style2″]

My Spending, Saving & Debt Payoff

What I am sharing with you are actual records of my spending during that time. I relied on my spending plan that I created in Google Sheets  2010 and 2011 to provide these figures, which are as close to what I actually spent since, I tracked my spending closely.

They represent how I spent about $38,000 of take home pay over a 13 month period, which did not include my pre-tax retirement savings, flexible spending accounts or paycheck deductions for post-tax retirement savings, life, long-term care and health insurance coverages.

The spending records are organized into three categories, Savings and Debt Pay Off, Essentials & Wants. Each month I list how I allocated my take home pay, within each of the three categories. I also include the percentage of spending for each category.

My Spending from November 2010 to January 2011

My Spending from February to April 2011

Debt Pay Off Spending Plan Feb 2011 to April 2011

My Spending from May to July 2011

Debt Pay Off Spending Plan May 2011 to July 2011

My Spending for August  to November 2011

Debt Pay Off Spending Plan Aug 2011 to Nov 2011

By the end of 13 months, I had paid off $13,526 of debt.  It felt great to accomplish that milestone, even though I also felt like I was holding on to my commitment to pay off debt by a thread, like when I had to spend extra money on moving costs and rental deposits twice, car repair bills and when my car got totaled after a tree fell on it during hurricane Sandy, and still meeting the changing financial needs of extended my family.

How do you allocate your spending and debt pay off? Have you had to balance your finances while helping out extended family?

If you want to learn about more strategies I used to pay off debt fast, check out this post: HERE

~Melisa Boutin
[sa_captivate type=”budgetcalculator”]

In The Shop: The Student Loan Payoff Strategy Bundle (Webinar Replay + Workbook)

Student Loan Payoff Strategy Bundle

I finally set up the shop!  One of the first items available is an awesome digital product: The Student Loan Strategy Bundle!

This bundle includes the replay of the Webinar I did with Bola Onada Sokunbi of Clever Girl Finance, on the 5 strategies I used to pay off $37,000 of mostly student loan debt, while saving for retirement and a home down payment, in 5 years, plus  a workbook to help you strategize your own plan to pay off your student loans, quickly!

In the webinar replay you will learn:

  • The strategies Melisa used to pay of $37,000 of mostly student loan debt in 5 years, while saving for retirement and a down payment on a home.
  • Key aspects that you need to understand about your student loans in order to pay them off successfully.
  • How to set up your own debt payoff plan.
  • How to navigate student loan deferment and forgiveness programs.
Webinar Reviews

Student Loan Payoff Strategy Bundle Review 1

Student Loan Payoff Strategy Bundle Review 2

The workbook includes:

  • Desire mapping worksheet to foster your commitment to get rid of debt.
  • Student loan terms and conditions Worksheet.
  • Student loan cycle, capitalization and interest accrual explained.
  • Student loan payoff planning and loan prioritization mapping worksheet.
  • Student loan payoff tracking worksheet.
Inside The Student Loan Payoff Strategy Workbook

Student Loan Payoff Strategy Workbook - Inside Look

This bundle is for you if:

  • You have student loan debt that you want to pay off quickly.
  • Your payments don’t make a big impact on your student loan principal balance.
  • You don’t fully understand your student loan terms and conditions.
  • You don’t know how deferment affects your loan balance and all the requirements for loan forgiveness.
  • You worry about how student loans are getting in the way of your goal of homeownership and investing for your retirement.
Want to learn how your student loans work, and pay them off fast?

Grab the bundle in the shop, HERE.

Get student loans out of the way of your financial goals!

~ Melisa Boutin