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Your Money Worth

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 ShuganSpice.com.

~Melisa Boutin


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5 Money Lessons My Caribbean Roots Taught Me

Money Lessons Caribbean Roots

Formal personal finance education programs in the Caribbean, are few and far between, yet the informal lessons I learned about money growing up in the region still informs the way I use it.

Here are different money lessons from my Caribbean roots.

Living Within Your Means Was Your Reality

One of my first realizations about money as a child was that how much cash you had determined how much you could spend. Back then, credit cards weren’t a thing and nor making daily purchases with the swipe of plastic, routine.

Groceries, and school uniforms and supplies, and many other wants and needs were paid mostly in cash.

Save First and Spend Later

Saving for large purchases was another widespread practice, I witnessed growing up.

It was just as common to both save up for a down payment on a mortgage, for example, as it was to start buying the building materials for your home with cash, before you even approach a bank.

Some home owners even built their homes in a piece-meal fashion, by constructing each phase of a family home after saving enough to pay in cash.

If You Borrow, Pay Your Debt Fast

Although Caribbean people have a strong culture of saving, there were still times that you would take on debt.

How you handled that debt though, was to pay it off faster than required. This was especially true when it came to consumer debt. 

The are many times I heard the phrase “I don’t want to owe anybody,” from my family and other adult relatives, as they prioritized paying off debts, fast.

The are many times I heard the phrase “I don’t want to owe anybody,” from my family and other adult relatives, as they prioritized paying off debts, fast.


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Extended Family Is Your Financial Safety Net

In my twin-island Federation, there is no government sponsored unemployment insurance, nor a large scale program for cash payments for individuals or families to make up for low or non-existent income.

Your extended family provides housing, and financial support in cash and in kind to relatives in need. With multi-generational living arrangements as a standard, family members can easily pool incomes, and other resources, share the overhead costs and the financial need of things like childcare.

Side Hustles Are A Way Of Life

Unemployment rates in the Caribbean can top more than 30%, and what are called “side hustles” stateside are a way of life in the Caribbean.

It was not atypical for an individual’s income to be made up of a collection of side hustles. Nor was it uncommon to patronize your home economics teacher, as she vends local treats on a downtown street corner every Friday afternoon.

Supplementing your income is something that you just have to do.

These lessons have had a big influence on how I use money and I especially credit them for enabling me to pay off debt, save and invest while providing support to my extended family.

What are some money lessons you learned growing up?

~ Melisa Boutin

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Featured – 68 Most Inspiring Debt Freedom Stories Ever!

Featured 68 Most Inspiring Debt Freedom Stories

It’s always encouraging to see people are stepping up and paying off large amounts of debt.⠀

I am still on my journey to get on the other side of debt and I’m honored that Personal Finance Junkie has featured my story of how I paid off $13,000 of credit card and student loan debt in 13 months. or list

You can check out the full list of 68 Most Inspiring Debt Freedom Stories in the list over at Personal Finance Junkie: HERE.

~Melisa Boutin

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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

My Journey: How I Transitioned From Engineer To Money Coach

How I Transitioned from Engineer to Money Coach

As a high schooler in St. Kitts, I watched my family’s home go from architectural blueprint to construction and then completion. That experience allowed me to see how; physics and technical drawing (architectural drawing by hand) could come together to result in a tangible, physical engineered structure. After this experience, I considered becoming an architect, but after researching the college curriculum for that degree program, I thought that there were three too many art courses and not enough math or physics. I decided instead to pursue a degree in civil engineering that would bring together my skill in technical drawing, love for math and passion for physics and that was that!

That seems like such a long time ago now, wow!

Today I want to share how I transitioned from a well-planned out career in engineering to money coaching.

Life As An Engineering College Student

Once I moved from St. Kitts to Miami, Florida after high school, I was driven to get into and complete a civil engineering degree program of my choice. Although, I felt confident that I was adequately prepared for the rigors of an undergraduate engineering degree program, balancing a full course load of engineering, math and science classes, while facing various challenges to accessing to financial aid (I share more about that here and the result here) proved to be my greatest struggle.

Still, 5 years later I was able to overcome most of those obstacles and graduate with a bachelor’s of science degree in civil engineering in 2007 and I went on to complete a master’s of science degree in 2010.

Engineering in Real Life

A new challenge came when I was seeking full-time employment during the Great Recession of 2010. After an 8-month long job search that involved me submitting almost 100 job applications, I finally landed an engineering consultant position. I was so eager start working so that I could finally start the engineering career I had dreamed of and worked hard for, plus I needed to start paying off these student loans.

Starting from my first day of employment, I had a full plate work wise. A few months after I started working in October of 2010, on the day before Christma, I was the lone junior employee in the office when Chief Engineer asked me to make changes to an engineering drawing in order to fulfill a client’s a last minute request. This was a test for me because even though I could do engineering calculations, tests and reports all day, I had never mastered AutoCAD and really had a phobia of it. But I used the knowledge I had and a few text messages to my CAD designer co-worker and got it done.

That’s how much I wanted to soak in all the opportunities of my engineering work life. Even when I knew that AutoCAD was my weakest skill I pushed through and made it happen.

6 years later I would be working as an engineering project manager for a different employer, where I managed multi-million dollar client budgets, negotiating contractor agreement and design, engineering and field construction teams. This is why I went through all this engineering schooling and I was right where I had planned to be. Some of the main functions of an engineering project manager/consultant, is to manage massive construction projects and stay on top of every aspect of the project. You have to communicate with internal project team members, upper management, complete billing and invoicing of your company’s charges to the client, manage and review contractors’ billing to the client, complete site visits plus run revenue projections and formulate budgets both for your employer and clients.

All of this work was tough yet provided the amazing opportunity to learn and I have done just that. But at some point, the drive I had for this career path waned.

From Engineering to Money Coaching

I have been crushing on the #engineerlife since I was a pre-teen, yet I have always had a deep desire to learn and master my own personal finances, especially figuring out how I could build wealth, with $68,000 of debt while playing the role of supporting my immediate and extended family as well as how I could teach others.

My engineering skills and professional experience have helped me tremendously on that parallel path. Engineering economics taught me the time time-value of money and how bonds work. While engineering consulting work gave me the opportunity to apply what I learned from budgeting, tracking and documenting millions of dollars to my own budgeting system and helped me become a trusted resource on managing money, understanding and paying off student loan to my family and personal networks.

At the end of 2015, I had a very challenging year managing everything that was #engineeringlife and my own personal and family life. I asked myself if the career that I had so carefully mapped out, now aligned with the life I truly envisioned living. I dug deep and found the passion for personal finance education that I have always had, just sitting there and decided to start to address the stories (like these share Here, Here and Here) of borrowers’ confusion about their Caribbean student loans. I partnered with Groundation Grenada and M.A.D.E. Grenada and launched a workshop at the University of The Virgin Islands, in St. Thomas, U.S.V.I. to educate current students about their Caribbean student loans. With the feedback I got from the workshop, I dug deeper and recognized the gap of personal finance information specifically for Millennial in the Region and the North American Diaspora and launched YourMoneyWorth.com on May 30th, 2016 to serve them.

Founder, Financial Educator & Money Coach

Now that I have transitioned, I would like to take my new intro for a spin, so here goes….

Hi! My name is Melisa Boutin a former Engineering Project Manager, now Certified Financial Education Instructor and Money Coach and paying off debt is my jam!

I am the founder of YourMoneyWorth.com that provides personal finance tools, tipsresources, and coaching to help motivated Millennials, in the Caribbean region and the United States get rid of debt and finally live the life they envision.

Let me know what you think of it!

~ Melisa Boutin