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



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: melinda@astrapefinance.com

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

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

Financial Independence

Financial independence: the act of creating and maintaining a sustainable living


I remember when I decided to dive into entrepreneurship. I left a full time job for no guarantee of a pay cheque. What was I thinking?

After sharing with a couple of people of my move, I heard the following:

  1. Make sure you have contingencies in place (didn’t have any)
  2. Are you sure about doing this in this current economy? (no time like the present I thought to myself)

From a little girl growing up I knew I wanted a company of my own. I always saw myself as a manager.

The transition from employee to business owner was a challenging one. I had to have a vision and think of ways to make money. The opportunities did not fall into my lap. I had to create them. It wasn’t easy at first, but I soon learned if I wanted to see money going on the business bank account, I had to go get it.

Well almost four years in operation and another business later, I am happy I made that transition.

Financial independence means to me fulfilling my unique calling. Doing what I love and what I was designed to do. And to fulfill my potential. I am sure there are many more ideas to be unearthed.

Financially Independent Generation

What about the next generation? Shouldn’t we be inspiring them to be financially independent?

Some children fall through the cracks of our educational system due to a perceived “lack” of their intelligence. They are basically ignored and left there without of sense of who they are.

These children are just as brilliant as any child who enters school from the age of 4. It may be the school system is not adequately equipped to readily recognise their unique gifts.

While it is important for every child to have that solid foundation, the ability to read, write and perform mathematical functions, the ability to be financially independent should be ingrained in their impressionable minds.

From learning to budget, children can develop the ability to generate several sources of income. They would not be despondent that they don’t fit in the educational system, but they would have the ability to create ideas and make money with the natural abilities they are born with.

Multiple Streams of Income

It is honourable to find employment within an organisation. I am in no way disregarding those who chose to work for an employer. It is a definite way to earn a salary and to develop professionally. Remember, entrepreneurship is not designed nor meant for everyone to dive into.

However, did you consider should your job be taken from you, what would you have to fall back on?

Or do you consider the money you have, could be used to generate multiple streams of income for your household?

We are currently facing times of uncertainty and take it from me as someone who has experienced three job losses in my family, you need to have more than one  source of income.

I am not encouraging you to quit your full time job, I am encouraging you to start a side business. It could be hair braiding, blogging, writing a book or even raising chickens. It amazes me how the mothers of old were able to maintain a household with close to ten mouths to feed. These women were women of many trades and they made their money stretch.

Having skills does not make you less intelligent, it makes you more profitable.

It may be a sure way for you to get out of debt and generate wealth.

Financial Planning

I would like to speak to financial planning in the midst of the economic challenges we are facing as a nation.

While it may not be conducive at present to save for retirement, find other vehicles for deferred current consumption, that is setting aside money for spending later. You do not want to be left wanting in your old age. It would not be a pleasant experience to have to be dependent on someone. Ensure your financial independence in the long term. The longer you wait to prepare for retirement, the more expensive it will be to achieve that goal. Those of you in your twenties, this is prime time. Do not allow the removal of tax incentives for Registered Retirement Savings Plans (RRSP’s), as happened in Barbados earlier this year, to deter you or set you back from saving for those later years. Plan now!

I would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a Happy Financial Independence from all of us at Astrape Finance.

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

When paying off debt early is a bad idea

Living a debt free life sometimes feels like a fantasy, an ideal life that anyone would want to achieve.

So paying off debt as early as humanly possible seems like it makes sense right?
The hard truth is that it’s not that simple.

Here are a number of scenarios when paying off debt early doesn’t make sense:

Scenario 1: Savings, what savings?

If you don’t have any savings, paying down debt prematurely should probably not be your first priority.

Savings are your cushion against the unexpected challenges in life.

What would happen if you lost your job tomorrow or if you fell ill? Do you have savings to help you deal with that?

If you lost your job tomorrow, you’re likely to be more concerned with your next meal than your zero income to debt ratio.

Similarly if you fell ill, the zero debt is unlikely to buy you medicine.

Bottom line:  Work on your savings to debt payoff ratio.  Get a good little nest egg, and then think about paying off your debt prematurely

Scenario 2: Is there a penalty for premature settlement of debt?

Sometimes, paying off debt early, can incur a penalty from your financing company!

Financing companies make money from interest. That is their main revenue generator, so sometimes in an effort to protect their revenue, they include a deterrent from early repayment!

If you have such an agreement, it might be best to consider the cost benefit analysis of paying off your debt prematurely vs the interest that incurred.

Bottom line: Read your contract to make sure you understand the costs vs the benefits of early payoff.

Scenario 3: Could your money earn you more money than you pay in interest?

Is it possible that you can invest your money in an activity or savings accounts that would allow you to earn more than the interest on your account?

A very simple example.

If you are given the opportunity to place your money in an investment vehicle that earned you 8% compound interest vs paying off a loan that cost you 4 % compound interest.

It may be wise to reconsider paying off the debt prematurely.

Bottom line: By paying off the debt prematurely you could be sacrificing the opportunity to make money.

The Bigger Picture

Debt can be troublesome for many of us. If your level of debt is at a level you are uncomfortable with consider refinancing your debt to a lower interest rate.

Or alternatively making the determination that sometimes your peace of mind may be worth sacrificing the benefits mentioned above.

Financial security is never a one size fits all situation.
Kim Roberts

Kim Roberts is an accounting professional, currently in the field of international development finance. She is a makeup lover, ACCA qualified and committed to all things Caribbean especially Soca music. You can find out more about her love of makeup at http://bajanbeautyblogger.com/ where combines her love of makeup with a need to write opinion based pieces.

Debt Be Gone!

Are you in need of simple debt management strategies and smarter ways of repaying your debts?

Are you ready to alter to your spending habits to clear your debts?

Today, I will show you how this can be done.

But first let us discover the meaning of the word debt.

Debt is money owed by you to be repaid to an individual, lending or financial institution who lent you the money. A debtor is an individual who owes the money borrowed, and a creditor is an individual or financial institution who lends money to individuals for specific purposes.

There are some people who use debt for personal purposes. For example, individuals seek financing to purchase a car, furniture and so on.

This can be acquired by the following:

  1. Borrowing money from family or friends.
  2. Receiving a loan from a financial institution.
  3. Obtaining a credit card.

I strongly recommend that you seek to repay these personal loans as quickly as possible. You do not wish to incur any more interest on your debt than you should.

Some people use debt for investing purposes. For example, individuals seek financing to purchase real estate for personal and commercial purposes. Established businesses also seek financing to acquire capital to expand their business.

Money is acquired for investing purposes to diversify an individual’s investment portfolio and to expand a company’s operations, while money is acquired for personal purposes to acquire necessities for everyday living.

If you decide to approach a financial institution to borrow money for these specific purposes, they determine first of all, whether you are capable of repaying the money you require. One of the ways they examine an individual’s financial background is by reviewing the activity in their bank accounts; while they examine a company’s financial background by reviewing their financial statements. The money is often granted based on how well you manage your own financial affairs. I am sorry guys; they do not give money to irresponsible individuals or companies.

It is very important to be always responsible when it comes to managing your debts. If you act irresponsibly, there will be consequences, such as:

  1. Strain in your relationships, if your borrowed money from a family or friend.
  2. Incurred interest added to the monthly amount allocated to repaying the debt.
  3. Repossession of your personal items to satisfy the debt owed.
I want you to take up this challenge from today. Repay your debts and get rid of them as soon as you possibly can. I know what you are saying, it is not possible. Well, with some discipline and patience it can be accomplished!
Here are some ways you can ensure your debts are repaid faster:
  • Identify which debt is charged with the highest rate of interest. The loan document normally states the rate at which you borrowed the money. Upon determining which debt has the highest interest rate, focus on repaying that amount as quickly as you can. I am not advising that you pay off the remaining balance in one fell swoop. I am suggesting, you add ten, twenty or fifty dollars to the monthly amount set to repay your creditor. Guess what! In time you would have repaid that debt. (Please remember to repay any other debts. It is important to service them along with repaying this debt)
  • Upon repaying that debt with the highest interest rate, you can then use that amount paid to that debt and apply it to the debt with the second highest interest rate. Upon repaying the debt with the second highest interest rate, you can use that money (amount used to repay debt with first highest interest rate + amount used to repay debt with second highest interest rate) to repay the debt with the third highest interest rate. And this process continues until you are completely debt free!
  • For those with credit card debt, do not settle to pay the minimum amount due. Repayment of the minimum amount will not reduce the balance effectively. What normally happens, interest charged to the credit card is deducted from the minimum amount paid to the credit card, and therefore the amount you paid will not be fully applied to your credit card. Let’s be aggressive in repaying our credit card balances.

I say to you that it is possible for you to see your debts gone. It will take time, discipline and self-control. Always make sure you have a plan for allocating and spending your money. Budgeting is a very effective and powerful tool that can be used to manage your debts. You can never accomplish goals unless you have a plan.

Look out for our next blog, “How to Use a Budget to Repay Your Debts”.

Astrape Finance