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Financial Literacy:

A Comprehensive Guide for Young Adults

In a world filled with diverse financial challenges and opportunities, cultivating a strong foundation in financial literacy is more essential than ever. This comprehensive guide has been crafted with the singular goal of empowering you with the knowledge and skills necessary to navigate the intricate landscape of personal finance.

We recognize that the journey toward financial well-being can be both exciting and complex, and this project aims to serve as a reliable companion, providing insights, strategies, and practical information to foster financial literacy. Whether you’re embarking on your first job, considering investments, or contemplating major financial decisions, this guide is designed to equip you with the tools needed to make informed choices, build a secure future, and achieve your financial goals.

Savings and Banking

Savings and Budgeting:

Understanding the Importance of Savings:

Saving money is a crucial aspect of financial stability. It provides a safety net for unexpected expenses and helps achieve long-term financial goals. Experts recommend saving at least 20% of your income, with priorities on building an emergency fund first.

Budgeting is the foundation of financial success. Start by categorizing your income and expenses. Prioritize necessities like housing, utilities, and groceries. Allocate a portion for savings and discretionary spending. Regularly review and adjust your budget to stay on track. An emergency fund is a reserve set aside for unforeseen expenses, such as medical bills or car repairs. Aim to accumulate three to six months’ worth of living expenses in your emergency fund to ensure financial stability during challenging times.

50/30/20 Rule:

This rule suggests allocating 50% of income to needs, 30% to wants, and 20% to savings. It’s a simple guideline to help balance spending and saving for a secure financial future.

Benefits of Saving:

  • Emergency Preparedness: Having savings provides a financial cushion for unexpected expenses, such as medical emergencies, car repairs, or home maintenance.
  • Opportunity Fund: Savings create an opportunity fund, allowing individuals to take advantage of investment opportunities, further education, or career changes.
  • Peace of Mind: Knowing you have savings can alleviate financial stress, providing peace of mind and enhancing overall well-being.



  • Set Clear Goals: Define short-term and long-term financial goals. This clarity helps you determine how much to save and for how long.
  • Automate Savings: Set up automatic transfers to your savings account to ensure consistency. Treating savings like a fixed expense can make it a habit.
  • Emergency Fund Priority: Prioritize building an emergency fund equivalent to three to six months’ worth of living expenses before focusing on other saving goals.


Checking vs. Savings Accounts:

Understanding the purpose of a checking account (for daily transactions) and a savings account (for saving money and earning interest) is essential. Choose accounts with features that align with your financial goals.

Debit and Credit Card

Differentiate between debit and credit cards. Debit cards deduct funds directly from your checking account, while credit cards allow you to borrow money up to a credit limit, with the option to pay later. Credit scores reflect your creditworthiness. Higher scores open doors to better loan terms and lower interest rates. Regularly check your credit report for accuracy. Learn about minimum monthly payments, interest rates, and the impact of carrying a balance on credit cards. Responsible credit card use is crucial for maintaining a healthy financial profile.

Understanding Loans:

Loans are financial instruments that allow individuals to borrow money for various purposes, such as education, buying a home, or starting a business. It’s important to comprehend the terms associated with loans and the potential impact on your financial well-being.

Types of Loans: Explore common types of loans, including personal loans, auto loans, student loans, and mortgages. Each type has specific terms, interest rates, and repayment schedules.

Advantages of Borrowing Loans:

  • Financial Flexibility: Loans provide financial flexibility, allowing you to make significant purchases or investments without having to save the full amount upfront.
  • Building Credit History: Responsible repayment of loans contributes to a positive credit history, which is crucial for obtaining favourable interest rates on future loans.
  • Achieving Goals: Loans enable individuals to achieve life goals, such as homeownership, education, or starting a business, that might not be feasible without financial assistance.

Disadvantages of Borrowing Loans:

  • Interest Costs: Borrowing comes with the cost of interest, which can significantly increase the overall amount repaid. High-interest rates can lead to substantial financial burdens.
  • Risk of Debt Accumulation: Taking multiple loans or borrowing beyond your means can result in debt accumulation, leading to financial stress and potential long-term consequences.
  • Impact on Credit Score: Failure to repay loans on time can negatively impact your credit score, affecting your ability to secure future loans and potentially leading to higher interest rates.

Loan Repayment Strategies:

  • Create a Repayment Plan: Develop a realistic plan for repaying the loan, considering your income, expenses, and other financial goals.
  • Prioritize High-Interest Debt: If you have multiple loans, prioritize repaying those with higher interest rates first to minimize overall interest costs.
  • Avoid Late Payments: Timely repayment is crucial for maintaining a positive credit history. Set up reminders or automatic payments to avoid late fees.

Statutory deductions are mandatory amounts subtracted from your gross pay and remitted to the government. Generally, income deductions can be categorized into four types: Statutory Deductions, Pension Deductions, Loan Repayments, and Other Deductions. While some employers may only facilitate the first one or two categories, others might allow a broader range of deductions, including insurance premiums, car loan payments, student loan payments, investment savings, or charitable contributions. Establishing salary deductions streamlines the process, ensuring a hassle-free way to meet financial obligations without the need to manually transfer funds each pay period. In this article, we will focus on elucidating the first two types of deductions: statutory and pension deductions.


It’s crucial to note that specific employers may incorporate additional calculations and considerations. Therefore, the information provided here is general; if you have concerns about calculations or variations in what constitutes taxable or non-taxable income, it is advisable to consult with your employer.


I will start by explaining pension deductions because statutory deductions remitted to the government are calculated based on your non-pensionable income. If you contribute to a pension plan (allowing up to 20% from both you and your employer) and/or the National Insurance Scheme (N.I.S., which will be elaborated on later), this total amount is deducted first. Subsequently, other statutory deductions are calculated based on the remaining income, referred to as the statutory income.

As exemplified in the preceding illustration, statutory deductions are computed from the Gross Income after pension payments have been subtracted, commonly known as Statutory Income.

In addition to the National Insurance Scheme (N.I.S.), the other statutory deductions encompass:

Income Tax – P.A.Y.E.

Calculated at 25% of the amount of statutory income exceeding the tax threshold. If the statutory income surpasses $500,000, the tax rate is determined as follows:

– (Statutory Income – $500,000) * 30% + ($500,000 – Tax Threshold) * 25%

The Tax Threshold represents the gross pay amount exempt from taxation, currently set at $125,008 per month. The figure used to compute P.A.Y.E. is termed taxable income, generally defined as Taxable Income = Statutory Income – Income Tax Threshold.


Education Tax

This levy supports the Ministry of Education’s financial needs and is calculated at 2.25% of taxable income for employees, with employers obligated to contribute 3.5%.

N.H.T. – National Housing Trust

Contributions are directed to this government entity, offering Jamaicans housing benefits upon qualification. N.H.T. is calculated at 2% of taxable income for employees, while employers contribute 3%. Further information on accessing N.H.T. benefits can be found in my article on the subject.

N.I.S. – National Insurance Scheme

Primarily designed to provide Jamaicans with a pension upon reaching retirement age, N.I.S. contributions are payable if individuals have contributed through salary payments for at least 1443 weeks (3 years). N.I.S. is calculated at 3% of gross income but is capped at the insurable wage ceiling, presently set at $3 million per annum or $250,000 per month. In simpler terms, the maximum N.I.S. deduction is 3% of $250,000 or $7,500 per month. Additional details on the insurable wage ceiling and the planned increase to $12,500 in April 2022 can be found in my related article.

To summarize the four statutory deduction payments made by employees:

Income Tax – P.A.Y.E. (25% for amounts over the tax threshold*)

Education Tax (2.25%)

N.H.T. – (2%)

N.I.S. – (3% up to a max of $7,500)**

*Tax Threshold – Amount of gross pay which no tax is charged on. Currently $125,008 per month.

**Refer to my article on the Insurable Wage Ceiling for N.I.S. calculations. This amount will increase to $12,500 in April 2022.

Additionally, there is an employer contribution towards the Human Employment and Resource Training (HEART), amounting to 3% of the employee’s gross income. HEART contributions play a pivotal role in funding training and certification programs for all working-age Jamaicans.