Tracking Your Numbers Could Lead You to Seeing the Bigger Picture

In the fourteen years’ experience I have in accounting, tracking your numbers is key if you want to be in business.

I have been in business for seven years and I know first hand how beneficial it is to know how my company is performing.

I have been invited by organisations such as the Barbados Youth Business Trust, the Youth Entrepreneurship Scheme,  Barbados Cultural Industries Development Authority to speak on topics dear to entrepreneurs.

These would include, “Types of Funding”, “Understanding the Financials” and such the like. I have also been afforded the opportunity to consult with entrepreneurs on a one on one basis guiding them on how best to communicate the present performance of their business and how they anticipate their business will perform in the future.

Here are four reasons why you need accounting information:

  • To know the past performance of your business
  • To know the present performance of your business
  • To predict the future performance of your business
  • To make informed decisions for your business

Not only do you want to make your numbers presentation ready for your benefit, but for those outside of your business. These include government agencies such as the Barbados Revenue Authority (or the relevant tax authority in your country), lending agencies and investors, to name a few.

What are the key financial statements a business owner should pay attention to?

  1. The income statement
  2. The balance sheet
  3. The cash flow statement

The income statement shows whether the company has made a profit or a loss.

The balance sheet communicates the net worth of your company.

The cash flow statements shows the money flowing in and out of your business for various purposes.

As stated above, having access to these statements helps you became more aware of the transactions in your business. It could also help decide if a particular product line is making money or not. It could also help you know if you should give up the place you’re renting which is eating up your cash flow, so you could opt to work virtually and provide the same level of excellent service online.

So how does one create these financial statements? By tracking your numbers one business transaction at a time.

You could opt to purchase accounting software.

You could opt to use free accounting apps.

You could opt to hire the services of a bookkeeper or an accountant who could help input this data so you could become well informed. (Hint Hint)

Accounting software has become user friendly that anyone could use it. However, having someone on your team who understands basic accounting principles and knows how best to make this information presentation ready and how best to explain your business’ performance to you, could make your life a whole lot easier and help you see the bigger picture.

If you would like get your know numbers better, send me an email  at melinda@astrapefinance.com or call me at 246-231-1385 and let’s get you seeing the bigger picture NOW.

Melinda_01

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.

EMAIL her at: melinda@astrapefinance.com

CONNECT with her on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/melindabelle/

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

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

Visit our website: www.astrapefinance.com

Air Out Your Dirty Laundry: Why Full Disclosure is Key

Before you say I do, there are some things you ought to know.

Marriage is a total commitment. It’s not romantic gestures all the time. It’s washing the dishes. Paying the bills. Staying at home and watching Netflix instead of eating out. It’s having a chair designated as a laundry basket. It’s having to compromise, sometimes. It’s thinking about someone else other than yourself. It’s about learning to work together as a team.

By the way learning to work together does not happen overnight. Actually it’s a lifetime process.

Before you say I do, could I recommend couples practice full disclosure before they tie the knot?

I’ll explain.

Money could make or break a relationship.

There are no ands, ifs or buts about it. That’s the truth.

Expectations could lead to disappointments.

The money talk/discussion is not an easy one to have. No two people are going to have the same ideas as it relates to money. Differing views could be based on past experiences, different upbringings or the way your partner’s behaviour is naturally bent towards money.

Let me let you in on another secret. What’s yours is his and what hers is yours.

Say what?!!!

Well, if Sue has credit card debt of $5,000 guess what, it’s your debt to deal with too.

If Tom has student loan debt of $20,000, it’s your debt to deal with also.

In the society we live in, money is a taboo topic. We don’t like to talk about it.

That’s the reason why I titled this blog, Air Out Your Dirty Laundry. Essentially this phrase speaks to talking about private matters and in this case it would be about money.

Whatever your upbringing, if money wasn’t discussed in your place of origin, it should be discussed before you move in your home together. Don’t allow what you learnt (not communicating about money) to cause unnecessary strain in your marriage.

Attending (proper) pre-marital counselling is a must. And I say proper, because there are some people who don’t know how to counsel. I don’t mean to be rude, but it’s the truth.

Pre-marital counselling helps you prepare for joining your lives together. And I am not saying because you do pre-marital counselling, your marriage will always be rosy, but being open and honest as you prepare in these sessions will give you a sneak peak into what married life could be like with your future spouse.

Please fully disclose where you are at financially. Do a mock up of a budget together. See what life will be like for the both of you financially. See if adjustments need to be made before you say I do. (e.g. freeing up more of your money from debt)

Every couple’s financial journey and financial plan is different. How you prepare before you tie the knot will not be the same as another couple. There will be some who will be financially ready and there will be some who won’t be ready, but they’re getting there.

To gain an objective and financial perspective into what married life would be like after the wedding, email me at: melinda@astrapefinance.com

 

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

Who’s Financial Planning For?

In my previous blog The Makeup of a Financial Plan I shared this wonderful fact:

You do not need to have money in order to have a financial plan 

It may be portrayed wealthy people are meant to have financial plans, but everyone should have one no matter their professional or financial status.

So who is financial planning for?

I feel very compelled to share with those of you who may need to start over.

Can I let you in on a little secret?

I have failed.

What mistake did I make?

Relying on one source of income and not robustly working to develop my other sources of income. A lesson well learnt and I am back on track to rebuilding those sources.

Financial planning allows you to start over again.

If one plan fails, you seek to develop another plan.

It’s not over.

It’s not too late.

A financial plan is a blueprint you typically use to rebuild your finances, but you will need the following tools to build with:

  1. Budget: A spending plan used to allocate money for various spending purposes
  2. Savings Account(s): Useful for saving for emergencies, savings goals
  3. Investments: Instruments useful for multiplying your money over a long period of time and earning additional income (e.g. dividends)

Please know this, your financial plan won’t work unless it is implemented. It’s great to have to goals, to have an idea of what you want to build, but rebuilding won’t be possible without tools and the actionable use of those tools.

If you are ready to learn the basics of creating your financial plan, I will be hosting a Financial Planning Workshop in May!

Click here to secure your seat at this Event!

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 Makeup of a Financial Plan

Have you ever wondered about financial planning or even considered creating your financial plan?

You might be thinking:

“I couldn’t possibly consider having a Financial Plan.”

“I am in debt.”

“I don’t have enough savings.”

“I am not very wealthy.”

And the list could go on.

Please allow me to swiftly rescue you from the lies you may be drowning in.

Please allow me to reassure you of this wonderful fact:

You do not need to have money in order to have a financial plan 

Repeat after me:

I do not need to have money in order to have a financial plan

How else will you know what to do with the money when you finally receive it!

Financial Planning is like having an architect sketch the blueprint of the house you’re looking to build. If you don’t have a suggested plan to build your home, the builders will build according to how they think your house should be built.

With financial planning you have your say. You determine where it is you want to go and how you go about getting to your destination. It’s like planning for a trip.

Don’t you want to be the builder of your financial future?

If your answer is yes, consider these different aspects of financial planning:

  • Asset Planning: What assets (what you own) would you want to acquire?
  • Debt Management Planning: How do you plan to manage your debts?
  • Savings Planning: What savings goals do have in mind?
  • Investment Planning: What do you want your investment portfolio to look like?
  • Insurance Planning: Are you fully covered should an accident or unplanned event occur?
  • Retirement Planning: Will you have sufficient income to live off of when you reach retirement age?
  • Estate Planning: Who will you pass on your inheritance to?

 

The truth is we are all at varying financial walks in our life and different stages in our financial journey.

Some may have to consider becoming debt free first before they consider saving.

Some may have to consider saving money before they consider investing.

We will always be at work in various areas of our financial life however, a well laid out and dynamic financial plan helps us to navigate and prepare for life’s different challenges and great rewards.

If you are ready to create your financial plan, I will be hosting a Financial Planning Workshop in May!

Click here to secure your seat at this Event!

 

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

Tips to Gaining Investor Confidence

Have you ever had the pleasure of watching a baby learn to walk?

Have you noticed how the baby stumbles and falls? But after many attempts of the baby learning to stabilise his/her steps, the baby finally gains the confidence to take his/her first and future steps.

If you are new to investing, you maybe like a new born baby. But with time you could eventually find your footing with this money practice. It may be daunting to venture into, but armed with knowledge and discipline, you could gain the confidence to become a smart investor.

Investing is the practice of placing money into instruments (such as stocks, mutual funds, startups, business ventures, real estate) which could generate returns whether in the form of profits, dividends, capital gains or interest.

Here are some tips to gaining investor confidence:

  1. Get the big picture: It’s a good practice to know where you stand financially. There is a financial measure called the net worth.  You simply take your total assets (what you own) and subtract it from your total liabilities (what you owe). If your total assets are $1,000 and your liabilities are $500, then your net worth is $500. If your liabilities are greater than your assets, then you may have a challenge. Your cash maybe tied up in too much debt.
  2. Liberate your cash flow: You maybe interested in investing, but you may not have the cash flow necessary to do so.  Essentially when you pay money to your creditors, it flows out of your pocket into your creditors’ pockets. I was once asked the question, if your budget your money and there is no room in your budget to do more with your money, what do you do? I said the key is to repay your debts as quickly as possible. That way you could do more with your money. No more than 35% of your income should be tied up in debt.
  3. Practice Financial Leadership: The key to liberating your cash flow is to engage in healthy money habits. Financial leadership is giving your money PURPOSE and DIRECTION. You give your money purpose via goal setting and you give your money direction via budgeting. Goal setting gives you the confidence to charter your financial course. You determine what’s the best route to take. And once you have a clear picture in mind of where you are going, you are going to be deliberate in your decision making (budgeting).
  4. View your money with a different perspective: Your money is your seed. Don’t think you don’t have enough to start investing. I started my company, but I didn’t have the money to invest in it initially. Your money has the potential to grow, much like a seed has the potential to grow into a tree. Stop seeing your money as something less, when truly it has the potential to do more.
  5. Know you’ve invested money before: Believe it or not, you’ve invested your money before. You know your college degree you obtained, you invested in your development. You know the gym membership you acquired, you invested in your health. Do you remember the returns you got? You do have the ability to invest! You may not have invested in financial instruments before, but with the right tools and knowledge, you could build your portfolio.
  6. Be open to learning: When it comes to investing, you need to know what type of investment you are putting your money in, how the investment works and the returns you earn from the investment. I have seen this quote quite often. Don’t invest in anything you don’t understand and it’s very true. I wouldn’t advise you placing your money in instruments you don’t fully grasp. Do your research or seek a finance professional like myself. By the way, I do welcome you having a meeting with me.
  7. Know the level of risk you are willing to take: Each one of us has different levels of tolerance, especially when it comes to taking risks. If you are not quite ready to take the road to investing, then don’t. You may not be ready now, but you will be. If you need to save a lump sum of money in order to start investing, then do so. If you have a monthly amount you can readily invest, then do so. It’s really about what you’re most comfortable doing at the juncture of your financial journey.

 

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

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

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