Types of Budgets

Guess what? There are different ways you could budget your money. But first, allow me to introduce to you my concept Financial Leadership. 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. Budgeting might be difficult for some because some may not know what they are going to do with their money. They don’t have an idea of the direction they are heading in. So it would be helpful first to sit for a minute and think about what you would like to accomplish in terms of your goals. (If you would like to learn more about goal setting, send me an email at melinda@astrapefinance.com or comment below and I would be more than delighted to set you up with a FREE webinar on this topic!)

When you finally have a clear idea of the direction you are heading, now you could create your budget.

Now, there are different ways you could do this:

1. Tracking your budgeted vs your actual spend: For those of you who may be novices, don’t panic! If you are new to this, you could jump start your budgeting process by simply tracking the money you spend within a month for an example. Keep running totals of the amounts you spend on gas, groceries and your other expenses, because you will be using these amounts to base your budget on. Create three columns below your income, Budgeted Amount, Actual Amount and Difference. The key to sticking to your budget is to keep track of each expense category. For example, if you allot $500 (the budgeted amount) for groceries and spend $200 (the actual amount) on groceries, how much money will you have left to spend? You guessed it, you have a difference remaining of $300.

Income:       $2,000

Expense       Budgeted Amount         Actual Amount         Difference

Groceries    $500                                   $200                               $300

2. Using envelopes to create your budget: The envelope system is a system used to place money into labelled envelopes for various spending purposes. Much like option 1, it is a hands on approach to managing your money. If you set aside $200 in an envelope for “Fun Money” per say and you run out, there’s no going into your “Utilities” envelope and removing resources to replenish your fun money.

3. Sticking to percentages in your budget:  This option may be beneficial for those first receiving their salaries, as they would not have any responsibilities under their belt just yet. For those of you willing to give it a try, you could allocate 10 percent to giving (and if you are not a giver, that’s quite okay), 10 percent to saving, 10 percent to investing and live off the the remaining 70%. It may be challenging to save or invest a full 10 percent. You may not be able to give also. In some circumstances, debt maybe the inhibitor to fully embracing this option. If more than 35% of your income is tied up in debt, it maybe time to look at paying off your debts at a more rapid rate.

There you have it. Your budgeting options. Will they work? Absolutely. Will you get it right the first time? It takes practice. At the end of the day, the purpose of budgeting is to help you plan for every single cent in your possession.





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

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

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

FOLLOW her on Instagram: moneymatterswithmelinda

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


The Importance of Saving

I was asked to write a blog about something that I am passionate about or interest me.

In my mind.. I was like blogging?

‘I dunno bout dat yuh!’

I have never done this before…

What would I even talk about? I don’t like anything that much.

However, after a few days of trying to find a topic I can do some justice to, out of the blue it came to me one faithful day at work * Cues heavenly music * “The Importance of Saving!”

Now this is something I can stand by and talk about with interest, as I consider myself a natural saver.

Not to long after acquiring my first job at the age of 23, I had ensured that a monthly automated payment was being deposited into a savings account. Now at that age most young people ain’t studying nothing so!

At the time I did it, I didn’t have anything in particular I was saving up for. Nor, did anyone advise me to do it *stops to think*… wellll not that I can remember.

But let me tell you, now at the tender age of 29 I am happy with my decision to incorporate saving into my life.

These are 3 major benefits I have experienced for myself:

  1. Minimises the need for debt which in of itself is a money saver.

It is fair to say that many people believe that incurring debt is a part of life. So, the fastest and easiest thing we tend to do is take out a loan without considering or even caring about the cost attached to borrowing especially over a long period of time.

The cost of debt can really hurt financially, especially when you have more than one repayment to make monthly which your income can barely cover. I have listened and read numerous stories about people trying to become and stay debt free.

In my case, because I had savings I hardly ever borrowed. To be exact, I have only ever taken out one loan in my life so far. (Looking back, I could have left that out doe! stupse).

I moved from my parents’ home, bought furniture, my first car and travelled all on money I saved. No! I didn’t do those things all in the same year, and my savings did take some beating. However, today I am relatively comfortable financially because I was tucking away money consistently. Now, had I been borrowing instead I would not be in this position.

Therefore, I believe in more instances we can take our time and save rather than incur debt as this makes life financially easier in the long run.

  1. Provides flexibility.

Money can be saved to start your own business. Persons have even saved money just to travel for a while and enjoy new experiences. Or, in my case take some time off from work to complete studies.

Working and studying is really hard. When I started to do both, I believed I could make it to the end like many others have. But, here I am planning on taking a few months from the 9 to 5 to focus on passing my remaining exams. This decision was prompted by successive failures, and my strong desire to finish study sooner rather than later.

I know leaving a full-time job for an extended period of time when you have rent, bills to pay, food to buy, and the likelihood of unforeseen events occurring is risky as hell. But having savings (and budgeting) helps mitigate some of that risk and provides some level of comfort. More importantly, it is allowing me the opportunity to try another approach at achieving my goal.

  1. Important in case of emergencies.

 You never know what obstacles life has patiently waiting for you around the corner, and most of the time they come with costly price tags attached. It could be illness, car troubles, job loss, or some other significant expense.  Having money set aside, so you are prepared when an unexpected financial dilemma occurs can be quite comforting.

Essentially, this safety net helps reduce stress and keeps you from going into panic mode, especially it situations where kids or other loved ones are involved or impacted. Therefore, even if you are not reserving cash for any other reason, having what is known as an emergency fund is not only important to your financial stability, but also to you and your family’s overall well-being.


My name is Cherisse Brewster, I am a client accountant at Cidel Bank and Trust Inc, currently pursuing a CPA designation. I have been working in the private sector for over 5 years. During this time, I have grown interested in money management, which led to a desire to create financial independence for myself in the future.

Through budgeting and saving my personal finances has and continues to benefit. Therefore, I wish to help others where necessary improve their financial position as well. At present, I hope to accomplish this by working with an honest and reliable company like Astrape Finance who shares similar aspirations.

So from me to you… peace, love and financial prosperity




Be Your Own Financial Hero

Today, we celebrate National Hero’s Day in Barbados. This holiday lauds those who would have made tremendous contributions to our nation’s development.

Do you know any heroes of this day? Do you know of someone who possesses qualities you greatly admire? Do you know of someone who has accomplished outstanding achievements? A hero is defined as just that.

Heroes are the teachers who train the nation’s children. Heroes are the fathers and mothers who play a key role in their children’s development. Heroes are those who adopt the fatherless. Heroes are those who speak up and use their voice to initiate change.

Now, I want to introduce you to a hero you know very, very well. Take a look in the mirror. Who do you see?

What makes you a hero you might ask?

Think about the obstacles you have had to overcome. And if I may highlight your heroism from a financial perspective, think about the financial obstacles you have had to overcome as an individual and as a family unit.

So, what does it take to be your own financial hero?

  1. Recognise there is a financial hero in you: Being a financial hero has nothing to with the money you make or the amount of money you have in your bank account. It has to do with your ability to lead your money. Financial leadership is giving your money PURPOSE and DIRECTION. A financial hero recognises his/her current practices are not lining up to the vision he/she set for him/herself. It takes courage to take deliberate and consistent steps to lead your money more effectively.
  2. Forgive those who failed to be your financial hero: Sometimes we place high expectations on people and then they fail us. This isn’t to say there wouldn’t be people who would keep their word. There maybe some of you who may have been abandoned by a family member and they left you to struggle. You have to forgive them for what they didn’t do and what they did to you. You are not forgiving them for their sake, you are forgiving them for your sake. If you want to move forward, you need to stop looking back and start looking forward.
  3. Be brave enough to change for the better: The way you behave affects the way you manage your money. If you are seeking to be a “people pleaser”, you will spend your money to obtain the approval of others. If you don’t think you are worthy of any investment, what will you do? You won’t seek to use your money to improve your financial situation. Do yourself a favour and change the way you think about yourself. Your thoughts are translated into your behaviour, hence affecting the your potential to be better with your money.

Become your own financial hero today. Happy National Hero’s Day!

If you want to improve the way you behave with your money, please allow me to introduce to you Money Matters with Melinda,  a series bringing transformation to your money life through information and inspiration! We are set to release my second book My Money & Me, where we take a closer look at how your behaviour affects your past, your present and your future.

JPEG_Money Matters with Melinda Logo(Full Colour)

To stay up to date about the release of my next book My Money & Me, please leave your information in the form below.




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.

EMAIL her at: melinda@astrapefinance.com

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

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

FOLLOW her on Instagram: moneymatterswithmelinda

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


Leaving A Legacy of Independence

I am so happy to see my country Barbados arrive at a major milestone, celebrating Fifty Years of Independence!

Though I have only lived to see thirty-three years of Barbados’ development, I have learnt and understood that in order to move this nation forward, you must have vision. This means the same for your personal development, that of your family and those who you lead.

Early in my twenties I lacked vision. In 2005, I signed my first employment contract which guaranteed me a salary at the end of the month. I was exhilarated of course, because I could now earn a living for myself. I thought I had finally achieved a level of financial independence; or so I thought. Those of you who have heard me speak, I often refer to the concept of financial leadership. I will explain how this revolutionised my finances.

You see, I was seriously bankrupt in my understanding of money. Yes, I got paid, but I lacked the maturity to manage it.  As I grew in my understanding, I realised that the money was not my issue. It was my behaviour. I thought I needed more, but I had to behave better with my money. Financial leadership is the ability to give your money PURPOSE and DIRECTION. It meant at the tender age, I had to kick against the grain and make decisions that could positively affect my future financially.

It meant I had to grow up on that day I opened my laptop and started budgeting my money. I didn’t like to be disciplined. It was absolutely not my favourite thing to do, but soon this painful habit became one that I cherished greatly.

Often times, it is easier to look at the present and not take a peek into the future, especially in financial planning.

Do you know, that if you don’t set aside money for spending later, you are stealing money from yourself in the future?

Let that sink in for a minute.

Could you confidently say you are actively planning for future generations to come?

This isn’t meant to condemn you, but to cause you to think very carefully about the financial decisions you make.

You might be saying, “I am knee deep in debt.”

You might be saying, “I have experienced a job loss.”

You might be saying, “I have made too many mistakes with my money. How could I possibly think about my financial future and that of future generations?”

You could start over with my thoughts on leaving a legacy of independence:

  1. Understand leaving a legacy is not only about leaving money: You can breathe now. You are not entirely responsible for your next generations’s financial future. Giving your next generation the tools and knowledge to creating a healthy, financial future is part of leaving a legacy.
  2. Embrace and encourage individuality: The truth is, everyone of us is wired differently. If you want proof, we all have unique fingerprints and will not walk the same financial path. Not everyone will earn money being a doctor or a lawyer (and I mean no disrespect to the profession), but we all were born with abilities which could earn ourselves a living.
  3. Refocus your goals: Is it the financial path of someone else you are walking on or desiring to walk on, or are you embarking on your unique financial journey? Unfair comparison kills our financial momentum I am afraid to say. If you are trying to build your life based on the perceived benefits from someone else’s path, you will be unhappy. Find out what you want to achieve for yourself and your family.
  4. Have the future in sharp focus: Transform your financial landscape by the way you think about and view money. See money as a tool. It is not a item you throw away haphazardly. Make wise use of it by investing in yourself for healthy returns. For example, your education, investments, businesses. Developing the habit of investing could transform your financial world, for the benefit of yourself and the generation that will come after you.

Happy Independence

Melinda Belle is the visionary and founder of Astrape (As-strap-pay) DSC_0051Finance, 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.

EMAIL her at: melinda@astrapefinance.com

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

FOLLOW her on Instagram: moneymatterswithmelinda

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



Tax Season is Here

It’s April and that means tax season for those of us who are sole traders (self-employed) or employees of a company. This usually means that everyone is busy number crunching, tallying and trying to find as many tax deductibles as possible to ensure a tax refund position.

Changes to tax deductibles

When filing for the 2015 income tax year, Barbadians will find that being in a tax refund position is more difficult to achieve. This is as a result of the changes made to what Tax Tipindividuals can claim as an income tax deductible. During his budgetary proposal, the Minister of Finance, Rt. Hon. Christopher Snickler stated that individuals can no longer claim the following as income tax deductibles:

  • Home allowance which was previously a maximum of $10,000 and
  • Planning and savings for retirement savings plan which was previously a maximum of $10,000

The Minister also lowered the income tax rates to 33.5% and 16% in the upper band.

Tax deductibles

With all the changes that have been made here is a list of the allowances which are still available and should be considered when filing:

  • Personal allowance – $25,000 (non-pensioners), $40,000 (pensioners)
  • Spousal allowance – $3,000
  • Child allowance – $1,000
  • Contributions to trade unions and statutory associations
  • Donations to charities including the church
  • Energy audit retrofits.
  • The foreign currency earnings allowance and the foreign tax credit

It should be noted that with the removal of taxable deductions, despite the lowering of the tax rates that both individuals and self-employed persons can expect that their taxable income will increase which will impact the amount of taxes to be paid or refund to be claim for the 2015 income tax year

Rashida 2.0

Rashida Parasram is a freelance accountant and business consultant with MPR Consulting and a business blogger with Feed the Passion. She has a passion for seeing small businesses thrive. She is a member of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants as well as the Institute of Charactered Accountants of Barbados. She has gained over 10 years experience in the fields of audit and business advisory with the accounting firms of KPMG and Ernst &Young.

Email: rashida.parasram@mprconsulting.solutions



Introduction of Lampy the Lighthouse

Lampy the Lighthouse Button Artwork-01

Who is Lampy the Lighthouse?

Lampy the Lighthouse is our family friendly mascot!


Who created Lampy the Lighthouse?

He is the creation of the Founder Melinda Belle at Astrape Finance. She saw a need to engage children in early education, in particular, financial education. She strongly believes children are never too young to learn about money.This belief led to the development of the first of an educational series, “Lampy the Lighthouse: Earning & Spending”. In this colouring book, Lampy carries children through a fun and interesting colouring adventure to  encourage them take an active role in managing their money. There is a child friendly budget designed to give them a jump start in becoming savvy money managers.

To obtain a colouring book, be part of the official launch set to take place on March 5th from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Artsplash Centre in Hastings, Christ Church. In the first hour speeches will be given, followed by the book signing and learning and play time for your children.

It’s a FREE family event for the entire Family!





50 Practical Money Tips for 2016

It’s the new year and we thought it fit to share with you some practical money tips to see you through 2016:

  1. Use the envelope system to budget your money. Simply place money into labelled envelopes and stick to using the amount allocated to each envelope.
  2. Give yourself a goal to accomplish within a year.
  3. Make sure your money goals are SMART. Specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-bound.
  4. Pay more than the minimum balance due on your credit card. It will reduce your balance at a faster rate.
  5. Switch to using an online debit card. You only pay the purchase price. Unlike a credit card you pay the purchase price plus interest.
  6. Save in advance for annual expenses (e.g. home insurance). This will place less strain on your budget when the payment is due.
  7. Walk and do calisthenics instead of taking out expensive gym members that you may not use.
  8. Make bulk purchases. Purchase regularly used non-perishable items in bulk. They are cheaper per unit when purchased in bulk (e.g. pampers, tuna)
  9. Support local farmers, farmer’s markets and co-ops by purchasing vegetables at affordable prices.
  10. Play board games and have conversations with family, instead of going out to movies and watching television for hours on end.
  11. Eat several small meals during the day and avoid overeating in large portions. Portion control is key.
  12. Ensure your car’s tire pressure is appropriate, so as to maximise gas mileage.
  13. Ensure you service your car at the prescribed dates as to not incur expensive mechanic bills due to lack of maintenance.
  14. Iron several items of clothing in one go, instead of one item at a time over several instances.
  15. Always wash full loads of laundry.
  16. Men, invest in clippers and other hair care equipment to reduce your times spent at an expensive barber.
  17. Ladies, be sure to challenge yourself to mix and match your existing wardrobe instead of buying new clothes for every occasion.
  18. Listen out and take advantage of clearance sales and other in store bargains.
  19. Choose what you food you want before you open the refrigerator.
  20. Hone your existing skills and passions. Who knows, they may earn extra income.
  21. Do not neglect to invest in yourself. You are your greatest secret weapon.
  22. Create a will to provide for your family and to avoid expensive probate fees.
  23. Keep your mobile plan to the bare minimum. Ensure your minutes and data plan reflect your actual usage.
  24. Wherever possible, switch off data and keep calls to the minimum, while roaming overseas with your mobile.
  25. Resist the urge to keep up with the “joneses” by purchasing the latest phone. The phone you currently have, may well suffice for all your communication needs.
  26. For readers, invest in a e-reader like amazon kindle and download the thousands of free e-books available online.
  27. Dust off your library cards and rejoin the public library.
  28. Check out garage sales and used books stores for cheap, entertaining and educational books.
  29. Have an expert help you prepare your tax return as to help you take advantage of all available deductions.
  30. Be sure to pay your taxes on time to avoid penalties.
  31. Use the available space in your garden to plant cash crops.
  32. Plant trees that bear fruit in their season.
  33. Instead of expensive fertilisers, be sure to compost your kitchen scraps and grass cuttings.
  34. Carry a minimal amount cash when travelling for security purposes.
  35. Advise your card company of your travel plans in advance.
  36. Take advantage of your carry-ons and personal item space, instead of incurring expensive extra baggage fees.
  37. Be sure to weigh your checked luggage, before you arrive at the airport.
  38. Take advantage of duty free shopping areas, but beware of overspending.
  39. Wholesale is better than retail when shopping for school supplies.
  40. Collaborate with fellow parents to buy school supplies in bulk at cheaper rates.
  41. Take a quick inventory of what you do have before shopping for new stationery. You maybe able to use or reuse existing items.
  42. Shop around for the best rates of return for mutual funds.
  43. Invest in several places. Do not place all of your eggs in one basket.
  44. Where possible, avoid borrowing to invest. This practice does not take risk into account.
  45. Keep abreast of financial news and trends but do not become overwhelmed by the ups and downs of the market.
  46. Think long-term rather than short-term for best results in investing.
  47. Practice the art of giving, it opens the heart to receive.
  48. A little with content is great gain. Be content with what you have, while striving to accomplish your goals.
  49. Look out for needs in your community and seek to fill them where possible. This may be the beginning of a lucrative business.
  50. Seek the help of a competent finance professional to make sense of your current financial position and plan and track your future financial path.

Melinda Belle is the visionary and founder of Astrape (As-strap-pay) DSC_0051Finance, 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.

EMAIL her at: melinda@astrapefinance.com

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

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