The Importance of Planning Ahead (Take 2)

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

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

Smart Business Investments

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

The answer is simple. Yes.

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

Plan ahead.

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

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

Jim’s Emergency

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

Sally’s Long-Term Plan

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

Elizabeth’s Pursuits

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

So, what are you waiting for?

Start planning today!

 

Melinda_02

 

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

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

EMAIL her at: melinda@astrapefinance.com

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

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

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

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

Congratulations! You’re getting married!

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

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

How many guests would we invite?

Where will we host the reception?

Who is a good decorator we could hire?

Where could we find an excellent photographer?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Melinda_02

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

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

EMAIL her at: melinda@astrapefinance.com

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

FOLLOW her on Instagram:

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

Mind Your Budget (Take 2)

I thought I would re purpose a blog I wrote three years. I think the content is still pretty relevant for us in 2018!

Let’s monitor our budgets daily. Whilst being in the midst of the everyday busy life, let’s be mindful of this:

Financial leadership

Let’s take a look at this scenario.

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 asked in order to encourage you to 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 for example, 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.

Comparison

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. Think of it. You are definitely further than you where you were at the beginning of 2017.

I challenge you. Let’s make an effort to mind our budgets and to mind our business.

 

Melinda_02

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

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

EMAIL her at: melinda@astrapefinance.com

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

FOLLOW her on Instagram:

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

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_02

 

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

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

 

 

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.

Comparison

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