Managing family economics in a pandemic


Jason Nancis

Business Development Officer,

REACH, Division of Health, Wellness, Family Development

The pandemic has plunged most of the developed world into a new normal, a new way of doing everyday things that we once took for granted. In most circumstances, economies that were once thought resilient are now facing hardships, that lends itself for some tough measures for survival of those countries and its inhabitants. We in Trinidad and Tobago have not been spared the dangerous effects of this pandemic and yes, the Government of the day has implemented measures that have forced some businesses to close their doors, sending thousands of workers on the breadline, some without a sign of recovery.

Even in midst of covid19 some situations forced people to rely on their own skills and talents to find a way to generate income towards sustaining their families. Entrepreneurship in its full sense is now being realised and it might be the perfect time to say that entrepreneurship has become the driving force of the local economy.

We in the project for the realisation of economic achievement (REACH) Unit, Division of Health, Wellness and Family Development have always advocated for entrepreneurial activities as a means of survival. We have funding start-up ventures in the field of agriculture, beauty and personal care, food preparation, art and craft et al; we have added further value to existing ones and are always on the lookout for the next best venture that moves the people of Tobago towards sustainability. Our grant funding process is a simple one allowing for direct interaction with the unit to gain information towards completing forms and supplying necessary documents towards accessing the funds needed to commence operations.

Along the way, we have learnt some valuable lessons that can help anyone weather the storm of the pandemic, as it appears to be around for some time to come.

Family economics

This has always been a very touchy subject as families are often hardest hit in most situations (weddings, funerals, pandemics, outbreaks). Because families form the bedrock of society and the foundation of economies, it is important that families build resilience in the most neediest of circumstances. Simple measures such as budgeting, exercising good consumerism and communicating can all assist in managing family economics, much to the gain of all family members.


This is a simple way of representing money coming to a unit, what those funds are to be used for and what the end result will look like. It’s a very similar process to the one used by the Government for their budget process. People usually say that their budget is in their heads but this must be stopped, because we sometimes are bothered with so many other issues that our numbers go out the window.

It’s best practice to write budgets down; seeing numbers actively in front of you allows you to think and apportion correctly.

Determine needs versus wants; ie what is important and what is not, what must be actuated now and what can be delayed.

Share information with family members: talk to members of the household to get their input and “buy in” to the budget process.

Remember it’s not cast in stone: most budgets can be reviewed depending on the circumstance or challenge at the specific time.

Good consumer practices also help in managing family economics, the thought of sifting through each individual items on a shelf is sometimes daunting but it might just be a necessary evil that we should not avoid. Because we are attempting to “stretch” each dollar means that we must pay particular attention to things such as shelf life of products, quantities, etc. Good consumerism also means that we can bulk buy rather than individual purchases when supply levels drops. For example, rather than purchase a chicken part, opt for purchasing a case of chicken that can be spread across more days.

The notion of home-cooked meals rather than purchased food is also another way of keeping funds in the account. By cooking your own meals it says that you can be much healthier in what goes into preparing the meal, meals can also last longer once refrigerated properly and on time, thus eliminating the need to purchase food every day.

Kitchen gardening is also making a strong return to most families as this provides a savings. Items from the garden also assist in keeping expenses down as they contribute to food production, snacks for children and sometimes can be sold for additional income. If you possess the space, you might want to try this aspect of gardening.


Share what is going on in the family unit and with the finances of the family. As much as possible, “buy in” is important to move the process along smoothly. With this feature, members are not overly burdened to manage alone, responsibilities can be shared and greater success achieved once communication is strong.

For further information on the REACH programme and the grant funding which currently stands at $7,500, visit the Division of Health, Wellness and Family Development’s website at and click on the REACH tab. From this point you can download the application form and the checklist of documents needed to complete each application.

Also, we can be contacted at 639-3395 ext 47206 for further information.


"Managing family economics in a pandemic"

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