Ten Financial Tips for the Graduating Class of 2018

This blog post is dedicated to the Graduating Class of 2018.

Congratulations! You made it! You studied well, worked hard and now it is time to embark onto the next leg of your journey.

At this stage, you are probably thinking of finding employment. I am sure you will choose well and find a job you will enjoy.

Upon landing your first job, you will be faced with the excellent challenge of managing your money.

You will have a sense of financial independence when you receive your first pay cheque, but remember with that sense of financial independence comes the responsibility of being an excellent steward.

Seeing that you are new to this level of responsibility, we created ten tips for your financial journey:

  1. Define your short-term, intermediate-term and long-term goals. Before you set up a budget, you should take some time to think about where you want to be financially. e.g. you may want to pay off your student loan, build a home, start a business or purchase a car. Financial Leadership is giving your money PURPOSE and DIRECTION. And once you have an idea of where you are going, you could ensure your money goes in the direction it ought to go.
  2. Set up a budget. A budget is a spending plan used to allocate money for various purposes. Having this tool in place will enable you to live within your means and also prevent you from overspending. See info on budgeting.
  3. Pay off your student loan as soon as possible. Having the weight of debt off your shoulders will give you peace of mind. The sooner you pay it off, the sooner you will be able to attain other financial goals.
  4. Set up an emergency and unemployment fund. Life tends to catch you by surprise. The things we don’t plan for do happen and it is always important to save money for a rainy day. Having these funds in place will help ease the pressure should an emergency or unemployment comes your way.
  5. Avoid unnecessary debt at all costs. You do not necessarily need a loan to purchase a laptop, for example. Simply set aside some money and purchase it with cash.
  6. Make it a habit to use a debit card. Credit cards have very high interest rates. If you make a purchase of $50, you will end up repaying $50 plus interest when the bill is due. With a debit card you will only pay $50 for the purchase you make online.
  7. Ensure your investment portfolio is balanced. Do not chase after highly volatile investments with the aim of becoming rich quickly. You will run a higher risk of losing money.
  8. Plan for retirement early. Invest in a registered retirement savings plan or mutual funds. Either option could prove to be a good vehicle to build your retirement savings. Remember, if you don’t put this in place, you could be stealing money from yourself in the future.
  9. Know when to say no to sales personnel from financial institutions. Insurance salesmen and credit card personnel will be seeking you out, because they know you have just finished your studies. No need to be alarmed or worried, they are just doing their job. However, do not feel pressured to say yes to every person who approaches you. Do your research and make well informed decisions.
  10. Plan for your vacation strategically. Predetermine your total costs and set aside money on a monthly or quarterly basis. When that time comes around to book your ticket and travel, money will be readily available.

With these ten tips, you could develop a dynamic financial plan best suited for life’s varying changes.

Always maintain your focus. Practice contentment and non-comparison. You have the ability to design the financial life you have always aspired to.

Melinda_02

 

Melinda Belle is the visionary and founder of Astrape (As-strap-pay) Finance Inc., the caring, knowledgeable, trustworthy, financial company guiding you to financial stability and prosperity through education, sound planning and advice. Melinda sees her role as that of an architect and is committed to the shaping of financial landscapes of businesses. She also crosses over to the personal side of finance, teaching families and individuals to manage their money and create wealth.

She is also the author of My Money & Me. A book which takes a closer look at how your behaviour and mindsets affect the way you manage your money. (www.astrapefinance.com)

EMAIL her at: melinda@astrapefinance.com

FOLLOW her on Twitter:www.twitter.com/MelindaLBelle

FOLLOW her on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/moneymatterswithmelinda/

LIKE her Facebook Page:www.facebook.com/AstrapeFinance

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Preparing Your Children for College (Take 2)

The best way to prepare your children for college, is to involve them in the planning process from early.

Here are some suggestions we have to offer:

  1. Guide your children into their field of study. Find out what makes them tick. You have known them their entire life and you know their strengths. Start today by finding out what they want to be when they grow up.
  2. Do not pressure yourself to send your children to a university. If they are interested in being a electrician, mechanic or even providing professional massage services, for example, there are many community colleges which facilitate these studies. This option will save you money in the long run.
  3. Teach them the importance of practising financial prudence before their college days. They will be on their own and will need to know how to budget. A great way to give them a hands on approach is to train them in budgeting their allowance or pay. Guess what? You can encourage your children to start saving for college. From today!
  4. Finally, encourage your children to take courses in their desired field of study in their high school (secondary school) years. On applying to their college of choice, they are likely to receive exemptions. Maybe even a scholarship.

So get your children involved today. It is never too early to prepare them for college.

Melinda_02

 

Melinda Belle is the visionary and founder of Astrape (As-strap-pay) Finance Inc., the caring, knowledgeable, trustworthy, financial company guiding you to financial stability and prosperity through education, sound planning and advice. Melinda sees her role as that of an architect and is committed to the shaping of financial landscapes of businesses. She also crosses over to the personal side of finance, teaching families and individuals to manage their money and create wealth.

She is also the author of My Money & Me. A book which takes a closer look at how your behaviour and mindsets affect the way you manage your money. (www.astrapefinance.com)

EMAIL her at: melinda@astrapefinance.com

FOLLOW her on Twitter:www.twitter.com/MelindaLBelle

FOLLOW her on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/moneymatterswithmelinda/

LIKE her Facebook Page:www.facebook.com/AstrapeFinance

The Importance of Planning Ahead (Take 2)

Is it always easy to make a plan? And to stick to it?

Are we so easily daunted by the responsibility that comes with planning, especially when it comes to our finances?

Smart Business Investments

Do we wait until we have to rush to get our affairs in order?

The answer is simple. Yes.

To prevent the frustration and at times the anguish that comes with planning, we have a solution.

Plan ahead.

Planning ahead makes us better prepared. The better prepared we are, the less stress we will experience.

To jump start your planning, we have listed scenarios to show you why planning ahead is important:

Jim’s Emergency

Jim is on his way home after a late night on the job. Suddenly, one of his tires burst. Things are a bit tight for him and his family, so he starts to worry, but he then remembers that he and his wife set up a savings account to handle surprises like these.

Sally’s Long-Term Plan

Sally is in her twenties and decides to start planning for retirement. Melanie is in her forties and has never thought of retirement. Since Sally is in her twenties, the amount required will be less than Melanie’s, since time is on Sally’s side. Since Melanie has approximately twenty plus years until retirement, her payments will be larger to accumulate required amount for retirement.

Elizabeth’s Pursuits

From the moment Elizabeth was born, her parents agreed to save for her university education. By the time she turned eighteen, she received a partial scholarship. If her parents had not planned for her education from the day she was born, it would have been a strain on them to support her in educational pursuits.

So, what are you waiting for?

Start planning today!

 

Melinda_02

 

Melinda Belle is the visionary and founder of Astrape (As-strap-pay) Finance Inc., the caring, knowledgeable, trustworthy, financial company guiding you to financial stability and prosperity through education, sound planning and advice. Melinda sees her role as that of an architect and is committed to the shaping of financial landscapes of businesses. She also crosses over to the personal side of finance, teaching families and individuals to manage their money and create wealth.

She is also the author of My Money & Me. A book which takes a closer look at how your behaviour and mindsets affect the way you manage your money. (www.astrapefinance.com)

EMAIL her at: melinda@astrapefinance.com

FOLLOW her on Twitter:www.twitter.com/MelindaLBelle

FOLLOW her on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/moneymatterswithmelinda/

LIKE her Facebook Page:www.facebook.com/AstrapeFinance

What You Didn’t Plan For (Take 2)

I am a huge fan of making plans. I love to organise my calendar and plan for the coming week ahead. I always like to know the plans that I have set in place, would indeed occur at that specific moment.

However, there are times when my plans do not always come to fruition.  I for one am not a huge fan of surprises, particularly those challenging surprises. However, what I planned to do would have to take the back seat, while what I didn’t plan for would have to take the front seat.

Isn’t it the same when it comes to our finances?

You budget for the month ahead, but then a surprise comes knocking at your door. Your four car tyres might burst. The car might break down.  Your child may need to go to the doctor for a fever. You may have to purchase medicine. Your tooth may need to be extracted. Your spouse may come home and tell you they lost their job today. These circumstances could sometimes cause a strain on your budget.

Take heart. Do not be discouraged, for there is a way you could effectively prepare for any unplanned circumstance.

There are two types of unforeseen circumstances every family should consider saving towards:

  1. An Emergency 
  2. Unemployment

Please ensure you save money toward the following examples of unplanned emergencies:

  • In the event of a sudden dental emergency
  • Vehicular repairs
  • Doctor visit for any family member who becomes sick
  • Battery and tyre replacements

Please note your savings should be used at the onset of an real emergency.

During these tough economic times, and even during the best of economic times, it is wise to set aside money for the unforeseen event of unemployment. This is where savings for Unemployment come in. Three months to six month’s worth of your most important expenses should be considered. Examples of these expenses include:

  • Rent or Mortgage
  • Electricity
  • Telephone
  • Commitments – Car Loan Payments etc.
  • Groceries
  • Gas – For the car and stove
  • Insurance – Health, Life, Pension etc.
  • Clothing

In the event money is withdrawn from your savings for these events in particular, make it a priority to top up your bank accounts. Remember, it will take time and discipline to save money toward these types of emergencies.

By having these in place, you are guaranteed to be at peace knowing your family will be cared for.

 

Melinda_02

 

Melinda Belle is the visionary and founder of Astrape (As-strap-pay) Finance Inc., the caring, knowledgeable, trustworthy, financial company guiding you to financial stability and prosperity through education, sound planning and advice. Melinda sees her role as that of an architect and is committed to the shaping of financial landscapes of businesses. She also crosses over to the personal side of finance, teaching families and individuals to manage their money and create wealth.

She is also the author of My Money & Me. A book which takes a closer look at how your behaviour and mindsets affect the way you manage your money. (www.astrapefinance.com)

EMAIL her at: melinda@astrapefinance.com

FOLLOW her on Twitter:www.twitter.com/MelindaLBelle

FOLLOW her on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/moneymatterswithmelinda/

LIKE her Facebook Page:www.facebook.com/AstrapeFinance

Five Steps to Creating a Budget for Your Small Business (Take 2)

One aspect of running a successful business is the implementation of a comprehensive financial management system. As a business owner, you need to know how much you are making (sales) and how much money you are spending (expenses). With the implementation of this system, you will be able to ascertain whether you have made a profit or loss.

One of the most beneficial tools you could install into a business’ financial system is a budget. It is simply a tool which one uses to allocate money for various purposes.

An advantage of developing a budget is possessing the ability to track your business’ spending on a regular basis. This will prevent you, the business owner from overspending and losing sight of where your money is flowing.

I know what you are thinking. You’re thinking it sounds like an excellent tool to introduce into your company, but you may not know or have access to steps to creating one.

The following are Five Simple Steps you could use to create a budget for your company:

Step 1: Divide your budget into the following categories we suggest:

  • Donations
  • Investments
  • Insurance
  • Savings
  • Business Expenses

Step 2: Assign subcategories to the categories of your budget. List these subcategories below each category.

  • Donation – Charities, Schools
  • Investments – Term deposits, Stocks
  • Insurance – Life, Healthy, Pension
  • Savings –  Emergency Fund, Reserves
  • Business Expenses – Rent, Utilities, Loan Payments, Salaries, Office Supplies

Step 3: Create a column “Budgeted Amount” next to the subcategories you would have created and assign a monetary value to them. This would be the amount of money you plan to spend in a particular subcategory.

Step 4: Create a column “Actual Amount” next to the “Budgeted Amount” column. This would be the amount of money you spent in a particular subcategory.

Step 5: Create a column “Available Amount” next to the “Actual Amount” column. This would be the difference between the “Budgeted Amount” and “Actual Amount”; the remaining amount of money available for use.

You see, budgeting is a very simple process. It’s not rocket science at all! All it requires is the discipline to follow through with your spending plan.

Whether you are a start up or established business, it is always a wise practice to implement a budget to enable smooth operations within your company.

 

Melinda_02

 

Melinda Belle is the visionary and founder of Astrape (As-strap-pay) Finance Inc., the caring, knowledgeable, trustworthy, financial company guiding you to financial stability and prosperity through education, sound planning and advice. Melinda sees her role as that of an architect and is committed to the shaping of financial landscapes of businesses. She also crosses over to the personal side of finance, teaching families and individuals to manage their money and create wealth.

She is also the author of My Money & Me. A book which takes a closer look at how your behaviour and mindsets affect the way you manage your money. (www.astrapefinance.com)

EMAIL her at: melinda@astrapefinance.com

FOLLOW her on Twitter:www.twitter.com/MelindaLBelle

FOLLOW her on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/moneymatterswithmelinda/

LIKE her Facebook Page:www.facebook.com/AstrapeFinance

How Not To Let Your Wedding Break You (Take 2)

Congratulations! You’re getting married!

Now it’s onto planning your special day! Wedding Cake

There’s so much that must be running through your minds as an engaged couple.

How many guests would we invite?

Where will we host the reception?

Who is a good decorator we could hire?

Where could we find an excellent photographer?

Should we travel for our honeymoon or should we honeymoon at a local hotel?

In the midst of this questioning, we know it could be challenging to strike a balance between the dream wedding and the real wedding. We all desire a wedding, we could pull out all the stops, serve three course meals and invite all of our families and friends.

The reality is, our pockets wouldn’t be able afford what we dream of, but we could become creative, custom design our wedding day and do what is possible.

To aid you in your planning, we have some useful tips:

  1. The truth is, catering will be one of the biggest expenses. To determine the amount of guests you can manage comfortably as a couple, simply multiply the proposed number of guests by the cost per head.
  2. There are some venues that not only provide the space for the reception, but also provide catering and decorating services. Check your local listings.
  3. If you can’t afford to have a reception, then don’t have one. It’s actually trendy these days. Some couples have a garden wedding, light refreshments and set off into the sunset (on a cruise) together on their honeymoon.
  4. Along with the bridal registry, give your guests the option of giving monetary gifts. This will provide them ease in selecting their gift.
  5. If your budget does not allow you to travel, don’t sweat it. Opt to have a ‘staycation’ for your honeymoon.

When your guests have left and wished you well, real life comes right after and that’s where discipline must continue for the both of you as a couple. Why not get prepared while planning your wedding. Challenge yourselves to not go in the red and stick to your budget.

Remember, the aim is to live life #intheblack before your wedding and the life after.

 

Melinda_02

Melinda Belle is the visionary and founder of Astrape (As-strap-pay) Finance, the caring, knowledgeable, trustworthy, financial company guiding you to financial stability and prosperity through education, sound planning and advice. Melinda sees her role as that of an architect and is committed to the shaping of financial landscapes of businesses. She also crosses over to the personal side of finance, teaching families and individuals to manage their money and create wealth.

She is also the author of My Money & Me. A book which takes a closer look at how your behaviour affects the way you manage your money. (www.astrapefinance.com)

EMAIL her at: melinda@astrapefinance.com

FOLLOW her on Twitter:www.twitter.com/MelindaLBelle

FOLLOW her on Instagram:

LIKE her Facebook Page:www.facebook.com/AstrapeFinance

Habits Which Help You Stick To Your Budget

Let’s face it, budgeting is hard work and in order for you to be successful with your budget you need to employ good habits.

Habits are essentially regular practices. Come to think of it, budgeting is indeed a necessary habit!

If you want to win with your budget, why not give a few of these habits a try:

Budgeting: First up, you will need a budget. If you are novice or in need a refresher to setting up your personal budget, please refer to Types of Budgets to discover which style of budgeting works for you.

Practicing deferred current consumption: Deferred current consumption is the practice of setting aside money for spending later.  While it is necessary to look at the short-term (spending money on immediate needs), it also important to look at your finances in the long-term. Think about it, one day you will look to retire. Someday, your children will be off to college. Think about it.

Practicing delayed gratification:  Delayed gratification is the ability to put off a purchase until a later date. You sleep on it and if you wake in the morning realising you don’t need it, well you didn’t need it in the first instance.

Switching from credit to debit:  Credit cards while they are convenient (money is made available based on the credit limit assigned to your card), for every purchase you make, you are charged interest.  If you want to stay #intheblack switch from using credit to using debit. I longer use or carry a credit card. I only spend what I do have. When I place money on my online debit card, I am able to make that purchase. If I don’t have money placed on my card, I will not be able to make that purchase.

Budgeting takes practice. It will take a combination of discipline and strong will in order to master the habit.

What habits help you stick to your budget?

 

Melinda_02

Melinda Belle is the visionary and founder of Astrape (As-strap-pay) Finance, the caring, knowledgeable, trustworthy, financial company guiding you to financial stability and prosperity through education, sound planning and advice. Melinda sees her role as that of an architect and is committed to the shaping of financial landscapes of businesses. She also crosses over to the personal side of finance, teaching families and individuals to manage their money and create wealth.

She is also the author of My Money & Me. A book which takes a closer look at how your behaviour affects the way you manage your money. (www.astrapefinance.com)

EMAIL her at: melinda@astrapefinance.com

FOLLOW her on Twitter:www.twitter.com/MelindaLBelle

FOLLOW her on Instagram:

LIKE her Facebook Page:www.facebook.com/AstrapeFinance