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.

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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.

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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:

FOLLOW her on

LIKE her Facebook


Mind Your Budget

Let’s monitor our budgets very closely this holiday season. Whilst being in the midst of the Christmas hustle and bustle, let’s be mindful of this:

Financial leadership

You have been paid earlier than your normal pay date. What do you do? Do you spend like there’s no tomorrow? Or do you make a plan?

Might I humbly recommend you make a plan?

This is not meant to stop you from having your fun this period. After all, it is the season to be merry. But this is said so you could maintain composure along your financial course.

If there is ever a time to be responsible with your money, it is TODAY.

Budgeting is not some out dated form of practice. It is a lifesaver. Take it from someone who was a habitual spender. If your life is out of focus financially speaking, it may be time to implement financial leadership. It’s not too late!

Financial leadership means giving your money purpose and direction. You simply have a vision of where you want to be and you allocate money so you could reach your destination. So, if you have responsibilities to meet in January after Christmas has come and gone, you want to ensure there is money there to meet those commitments.

Financial pressures

Financial pressures, also known as societal pressures, tend to set a precedence for one’s spending.

Spending to be liked

I would like to address this topic as someone who needed to be liked at some point in their life. Spending money on people who do not necessarily like or care about you is not worth it. It doesn’t make sense enriching their lives for you to end up poorer. No need for you to be a people pleaser. Those people from whom you are seeking approval, need to be minimized from or cut out of your life.

Peer pressure

Children are not the only ones who experience peer pressure, us adults do at some points in our lives as well.  If you do have not have the money to do what others are pressuring you to do, don’t do it. If someone is encouraging you to get a credit card to make up for the money you don’t have, don’t do it! You will not be paying for the purchase price, but you will be paying for the purchase price plus interest. And if you are not able to pay the full amount due after your numerous purchases in one payment, you will be tempted to make minimum payments only. Which in turn will keep you in a debt hole.


You think your life is awful because you don’t have the things your heart desires. And someone else seems happier because they have what you don’t have. May I suggest you stop right there? Not only does comparing yourself unfavourably to others place you in a defeated mental state, but it makes a breeding ground for jealousy. Then you despise the individual for what they have and think not so healthy thoughts about them. Combat this by looking around you. You have your loved ones. You have a place to live. You have food in the fridge. You still have a job and means for travel. Even if you use public transportation, you have the funds to pay bus fare. Make this Christmas memorable by being thankful for what you have. And think on this. You are definitely further than you where you were at the beginning of 2015.

Mind your budget and your business and choose to have a Merry Money Christmas.

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:

FOLLOW her on

LIKE her Facebook

Recovering Financially from The Crop Over Festival

Whether you are a lover of the music and arts, the bands or the food, this blog is for you.

We all come from different walks of life, have different tastes and just love to have a good time. There are various events this Crop Over season that will just catch our eye and compel us to go. So we will go.

But after the excitement has passed, you will realise you made quite an investment into the festivities.  How do you recover after the festival is through? By following these three steps:

Step 1recovering

If you have used your credit card to fund your activities, there will be a bill to pay. Gather all of your receipts and total them. If you can afford to, pay it in full. If not, don’t settle to pay the minimum amount. Always pay more than the minimum amount required. Another way you can clear this, is to pay the amount in three installments. This way you wouldn’t incur more interest than needed.

Step 2

Lay low for a while. Put a hold on the spending. As we said in Step 1, there will be bills to pay. Also, this helps you to curb impulse spending.

Step 3

Start saving for next year. Set aside 50 dollars a month towards the festival in the new year. A little can go a long way. Think of it this way. You will not have to place a strain on your budget by the time Crop Over comes around.

Here’s to a Successful recovery!

Astrape Finance

Setting Up Your Financial Management System

Have you thought of setting up your financial management system?fm system

Not sure where to start?

Well look no further, because we’ll tell you how you can accomplish this.

First, let’s define the term system:

A system is a set of processes working cohesively to achieve an objective. In this case, your objective would be manage your money well.

Below are a couple components you could implement in your financial management system:

  1. A list of financial goals – Before you embark your journey to financial soundness (, you will need directions.  Think about where you want to be in the next five years.
  2. A budget – A spending plan used to allocate money for various purposes. You can create a budget by writing it on paper, by using software or by placing money in envelopes via the envelope system.

There are more components you can add to increase efficiency in the management of your financial affairs. The wonderful fact is everyone’s management style is unique, therefore each system need not be identical!

We’ll be sharing this and more at our Family Finance Workshop Series:

See you there!

Astrape Finance

Five Steps to Creating a Budget for Your Small Business

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 (revenue) 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 can 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 one’s own 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 can 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.

Astrape Finance