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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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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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:

LIKE her Facebook

FOLLOW her on Instagram: moneymatterswithmelinda

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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

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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

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:

FOLLOW her on

LIKE her Facebook

The Importance of Planning Ahead

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

Are we so easily daunted by the amount of tasks 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 an emergency fund for 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.

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!

Astrape Finance

The Role of the Financial Planner

Many have been scarred by unfortunate experiences with financial planners.  ???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

Some have had run ins with financial planners who only sought to get a cut from their financial gain.

Some have been on the receiving end of bad financial advice.

But, there are financial planners who keep their clients’ best interests in mind.

They seek to provide the most excellent service to those who come through their doors. They tend to possess a strong work ethic.

To correct the erred view of financial planners today, we have summarised the role of the financial planner as that of a teacher, coach and guide.

Teacher –  If anyone had a good teacher, they would remember the care and time their educator took to present a topic. If there were any questions, their teacher would gladly welcome the opportunity to explain further. Sometimes the teacher would stay after school and give one on one attention, if there was need to. As teachers, financial planners take the time to shed light on any aspect of their client’s unique financial situation.

Coach – If you were part of a sports team, you had a coach. The role of the coach was to get and keep the team in shape and prepare the team for the matches ahead.  As coaches, financial planners are there to keep you in financial shape!

Guide –  As guides, financial planners steer their clients throughout their financial journey. Those who guide best often are abreast with the financial times. They caution their clients of financial decisions not to make. They are often able to discern when is the right time to action specific financial goals.

Along with fulfilling the role of teacher, coach and guide, a financial planner should portray these key characteristics:

  1. Trustworthiness
  2. Confidentiality
  3. Loyalty
  4. Stability

Astrape Finance