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Caribbean Money

7 Personal Finance Books By Authors in the Caribbean & the Diaspora

7 Personal Finance Books by Authors In the Caribbean & Diaspra

Reading personal finance books is one of the key ways I increased my financial knowledge about saving, investing and paying off debt fast.

I was always able to learn new money concepts and money management strategies, from the perspectives, approaches and experiences different authors shared, on the topic personal finance, although it was never easy to find one from a Caribbean author.

Thankfully, that is no longer the case and I am happy to share 7 personal finance books by authors in the Caribbean and the Diaspora you should read.

Smart Money Rules: How To Secure Your Financial Future In A New Economy

By: Marie Deary, Grenadian Heritage, USA

Smart Money Rules Book Marie DearyIn her book Smart Money Rules: How To Secure Your Financial Future In A New Economy, Marie Deary helps you navigate the intimidating waters of personal finance in the new economy. This personal finance read is a “powerful, must-have manifesto” on how to budget to save, save to invest and investing the right way.

Add Smart Money Rules to your reading list to learn how to build the financial security you want for your life.

Stock Market Investing Mini Lessons for Beginners: A Starter Guide for Beginner Investors

By: Mabel Nunez, Dominican Heritage, USA

Stock Market Investing Mini Lessons for Beginners Book Mabel Nunez

Mabel Nunez found her passion for stocks and investing as a junior in college and wrote Stock Market Investing Mini Lessons for Beginners: A Starter Guide for Beginner Investors to teach others how to understand the stock market and start investing.

Learn how the stock market & individual stock investing works in an easily digestible and straight to the point way, with Mabel’s book.


Unmasking The Strong Black Woman: 16 Essays on How To Manage Your Emotional Health, Build Your Wealth, and Live a Juicy Life

By: Kara Stevens, Antiguan Heritage, USA

Unmasking the Strong Black Woman Book Kara Stevens

Kara Stevens is on a mission to help black women be healthy, wealthy and brave and wrote Unmasking The Strong Black Woman: 16 Essays on How To Manage Your Emotional Health, Build Your Wealth, and Live a Juicy Life as a resource that converges personal finance, feminism and self-help.

Make a change in your mental health, self-care, family relationships, finances and redefine strength, with the help of Kara’s book.

Life, Liberty N’ Property: A Guide To Successful Real Estate Investing

By: John Delia, Haitian Heritage, USA

Life Liberty n' Property Book John DeliaJohn Delia raised, managed and exited a $300,000+ real estate investment fund by the time he was 25 years old and shares his knowledge and experience as a millennial real estate investor in his book Life, Liberty N’ Property: A Guide To Successful Real Estate Investing.

Get the knowledge you need about real estate investing and a roadmap to your first income-producing real estate, here.

RELATED: 15 Personal Finance Experts In The Caribbean & Diaspora You Should Know

The 3 Ms of Money: How To Manage Multiply & Maintain Your Money

By: Cherryl Hanson Simpson, Jamaica, West Indies

3 Ms of Money Book Cherryl Hanson Simpson

 After taking her own journey to financial success, Cherryl Hanson Simpson, shares how she managed, multiplied and maintains her money. Find out how to overcome financial failure, and learn the steps to win in the game of money with  Cherryl’s book, The 3 Ms of Money: How To Manage Multiply & Maintain Your Money.




Student Loan Answers: A 7-Step Guide To Understanding Your Caribbean Student Loan

By: Melisa Boutin, Kittitian in the USA

Student Loan Answers Book Melisa Boutin

In my book, Student Loan Answers: A 7-Step Guide To Understanding Your Caribbean Student Loan, I share my first-hand experience with tackling my Caribbean student loan, and how Caribbean students can navigate the muddled college financing process, avoid lender mishaps and slash the high-interest cost of Caribbean student loans. Learn how to reap the benefits of your investment in higher education with Student Loan Answers



My Money & Me

By: Melinda Belle, Barbados, West Indies 

My Money and Me Book Melinda Belle

 Melinda Belle, knows firsthand how your mindset, emotions, and financial behavior can negatively affect your money. In her e-book, My Money & Me, Melinda helps you examine how your own behavior keeps your money from growing and how to set your finances on the right path. Start transforming your finances with a copy of Melinda’s book, here.  

What are other personal finance books by authors in the Caribbean and Diaspora to read?

~Melisa Boutin

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Caribbean Millennials: Here Are 3 Smart Ways to Invest in Yourself

3 Ways Caribbean Millennials Can Invest In Yourself

As Millennials in the Caribbean and the American diaspora, we are more educated than our parents and grandparents, yet face very differenet financial challenges.

If you are one of those Millennials, trying to get a handle on your finances and your life, here are 3 key ways to invest in yourself that I shared in my article for Shuga N’ Spice Magazine,

3 Smart Ways Caribbean Millennials Can Invest

1. Create A Vision For Your Life

One that clearly defines what you value and the goals your need acieve in order to make that vision a reality.

2. Learn More About Money

Financial success is more than increasing and realizing your earning potential.

3. Use Technology To Earn Money

When your job prospects, work life or earnings from you career fall short use technology to
your advantage.

Read the entire article over at

~Melisa Boutin

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10 Ways Your Caribbean Lender Is Robbing You Blind

10 Ways Caribbean Banks Are Robbing You Blind

When I signed up for a Caribbean student loan to fund my college education, I thought I made a simple agreement.

I know, now, that it was everything but a simple financial obligation, and after my own lender messed up my student loan, I identified 10 ways your Caribbean lender is (probably) robbing you blind.

Non Disclosure of Policies and Procedures

Although you signed and agreed to a promissory note for your student loan from your Caribbean lender, details on its policies for applying principal payments, the process to apply for deferment, what happens to interest that builds up during your in-school or post-graduation grace period and when you will have an opportunity to keep outstanding interest from being added to your loan’s principal balance, are not disclosed to you in writing.

The result: You lack a full understanding of what you agreed to, and your lender makes more money

Mysterious Account Transactions

When you signed up for a student loan, you expect transactions to involve disbursements of loan funds, accrual of interest, loan payments and not much else. Yet your Caribbean lenders apply mysterious fees without much explanation, set payments aside to phantom holding accounts, record disbursements you did not request, and fail to apply payments to your loan account even after the funds have cleared from your personal bank account.

The result: You pay more in interest & fees, and your lender makes more money

Not Issuing Regular Statements

Even though transactions occur on your student loan account monthly, you don’t receive regular statements. Most times, it’s impossible for you to know what the status of your loan is, whether your payments were properly applied, and you can’t even be sure if your principal balance is on an upward or downward trend.

The result: You’re confused about what you owe, and your lender makes more money

Limited Access to Account Information

You’ve tried to get up-to-date information about your account, but experience delayed responses and if your lender offers online account access, the account information is hard to discern. Getting a clear picture of what you owe in terms of outstanding principal and interest balances, or how many payments you have remaining, seems out of reach.

The result: You can’t stay on top of what’s happening on your loan account, and your lender makes more money

Outdated Methods of Payment

Because the options to pay your student loan are cumbersome, your on-time payments are delayed and show up on your account, days past the due date. Your lender’s idea of innovation is an online payment option that involves the multi-step process of downloading a form and submitting a copy of multiple forms of identification, to make a payment by credit card or by directing you to third-party bill payment platform, whose system has with varying payment delivery times.

The result: You get hit with late fees and default notices, and your lender makes more money

Losing Track of Payments

You submit your monthly payments using the options available to you, then months (or even years) down the line, when you are able to get a copy of your loan statement, you realize that multiple payments are missing or not properly applied to your account. Your loan’s principal balance, that you thought that you were chipping away at with each payment, is stagnant or reduces only slightly.

The result: You end up repaying your loan for a longer period of time, and your lender makes more money
Related Article: How I Shaved $6,000 Off My Caribbean Student Loan After Making $4,000 in Interest Only Payments

Capitalization of Interest Without Prior Notice

Capitalization of outstanding interest on your student loan has a huge impact on the total cost of the debt to you and the size of your monthly payments. Yet, your Caribbean lender fails to inform you of when it takes place, and what happens to outstanding interest after capitalization.

The result: You pay interest on top of interest, and your lender makes more money

Withholding Extra Payments

After making room in your budget to submit extra payments to pay down your student loan faster, your receipts fail to reflect how it was applied to your account. You contact your loan officer, and you are surprised to find out, that although the money for your extra has left your own personal bank account, it has never made it to your loan account.

The result: Your loan accrues more interest than it would if your extra payments were applied, and your lender makes more money

Not Warning About Interest-Only Payments

Although it’s easy to tell when your principal balance stays the same after on-time payments, it’s harder to figure out why. You are totally unaware of when your loan effectively becomes an interest-only loan and receive no warning from your Caribbean lender when your loan negatively amortizes.

The result: The total cost of your loan can potentially double over time, and your lender makes more money

Subpar Customer Service

On top of the inefficient operations of your Caribbean lender, the customer service is the worst. In order for you get a minimum level of service, you have to contact a friend of your family who works at the bank directly. Other than that, the best case scenario is to endure frustratingly long hold times, unanswered emails, and unresponsive and rude staff.

The result: You are repeatedly worked up by the low level of service, and your lender makes more money

All these practices work together to bring more profits to your Caribbean lender at your expense. Make sure to use these 7 steps to keep avoid these lender mishaps and cut the costs of your Caribbean student loan.

~Melisa Boutin

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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

5 Thing Borrowers Should Know About Caribbean Student Loans

5 Things Borrowers Should Know About Caribbean Student Loans

 This post if part of the Financial Information Month 2016: Student Loan Series. During the Month of October, I will be sharing information about Caribbean Student Loans, stories from borrowers and highlighting the missed opportunities to address the current issues with the Student Loan System in the Eastern Caribbean.

The student loan stories shared as part of this Financial Information Month Student: Loan Series point to a pattern of Caribbean Student Loan lenders, who fail to adequately communicate with borrowers, leading to lots of confusion. I am committed to providing helping borrowers minimize the real stress involved with having a Caribbean student loan.

Here are 5 Things Borrowers Should Know About Caribbean Student Loans

1. Understand the Stages of The Student Loan Cycle

Your Money Worth Student Loan Series Student Loan Cycle: In-School Period, Grace Period, Deferment Period, Repayment Period

The typical student loan cycle consists of the In-school Period after the initiation of the loan and the first disbursement of loan funds. Once the borrower graduates from college, then the student loan enters the Post-Graduation Grace Period which is typically 6 months.

The Deferment Period is an optional stage where a borrower who has not found full-time employment, for example, request relief from the requirement monthly installment payments required and delay the student loan from entering the Repayment Period.

Deferment can be requested after the repayment period starts, if a borrower experiences a job loss.

It is important to note that interest accrues starting with the initiation of the loan and the first disbursement of funds and does not stop until the loan is paid off. For Caribbean student loans, borrowers’ and their co-signers are required to pay interest that accrues during the in-school period. Making interest payments throughout the in-school, post graduate-grace and deferment periods will reduce the costs of the student loan by avoiding accumulated interest to be added to the principal balance.

Interest only stops accruing on the student loan when it completely paid off at end of the repayment period.

To learn more about the different stages of the student loan cycle down loan the Student Loan Answers Book Preview HERE.

2. Proactive Communication With You Caribbean Student Loan Lender Is A Must

Let’s face it. Caribbean Student Loan Lenders have a big problem with communication. In my personal experience, it seems as if making it difficult for borrowers to get account statements and information updates was their goal.

Still, no matter how difficult it might be, if you don’t want your loan to get messed up like mines did or experience the confusion and frustration this borrower did, and possibly end up in a years-long dispute with your lender, schedule time to request account statements and other account updates to be sent to you in writing from your Caribbean Student Loan Lender.

If you are a current student, request account statement at the end of everything semester to confirm that any in-school interest payments are being applied correctly to your student loan account and that all the disbursement transactions match the amounts that were actually issued and received by you.

During the repayment period, request statements at least monthly. Even if you aren’t provided a statement from the bank regularly, make it your business to request one from you loan officer and if you are dismissed or experience a delay in receiving your account information escalate your request up the chain of command.

Financial Information Month Student Loan Series 2016 More Related Articles

3. Tracking And Documenting Transactions on Your Student Loan Account Is A Major Key

On top of proactively communicating with your Caribbean Student Loan lender, it is just as important to track the transactions on your account carefully. Review your account statements to verify every transaction on your account periodically and flag any discrepancies that you find and request that they be addressed by your lender.

It’s a given that dealing with many Caribbean Banks is like pulling teeth, but it will be just a bit easier if your are on top of your account and set up a systems to secure all your receipts, statements and copies of your disbursement checks in case you ever have to provide documentation to support your requests for resolution of any erroneous transactions on your student loan account.

4. Know That You Can Pay Off Caribbean Student Loans Ahead of Schedule

Although Caribbean Student Loans can be a large burden on graduates, you can pay them off ahead of time. To do that, not only will you have to delay inflating your lifestyle, forego vacations and weekend brunches, but you will also need to setup your own repayment plan and closely scrutinize how your payments are being applied to your student loan account.

5. There Are Alternatives to Caribbean Student Loans

Most Caribbean college student access Caribbean student loans to fund their high education. In fact, a 2005 Assessment Report on the Caribbean Student Loan Scheme, found that 80% of borrower interview could not pursue a college education with using a Caribbean student Loan.

But there are alternatives.

  • Private U.S. Student Loans
    • Lenders like, offer student loans to international students who has an eligible co-signer who if a Permanent Resident of Citizen of the United States and is able to meet the loan credit requirements.
  • Organization of American States (OAS) offers Interest-Free Student Loan through their Leo S. Rowe Pan American Fund .
    • The OAS  accepts applications on a rolling basis. The loan information can be found HERE.
  • Scholarships specifically for Caribbean students do exist and you should apply for them.
    • Scholarships specifically for Caribbean students shoul  be considered as a source of funding for college. I share opportunities right on my Start Here page.

If you have a Green Card or you are a U.S. Citizen, like I was when I was going off to college, avoid taking out a Caribbean student loan, all together. You are better off choosing a cheaper school and applying for scholarships you are eligible for than taking out a Caribbean student loan.You should learn from my experience.

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