Life after VAT….

Life after VAT….

By now you have  heard about it. You know that ole dirty tax has increased, the name that I dare not repeat but no matter how much I try to avoid it come July 1st VAT will be here at an additional 4.5%.

Now this post is not about complaining. We are well passed this stage and while I have to admit my people are super creative because all of the videos (by the way have you seen this one?) and memes were definitely well worth the chuckle reality has set in and well it’s really no laughing matter.

Read the 2018 Budget Communication here.

I recently attended a budgeting seminar this week (perfect timing right), it was hosted by a banker. She was amazing,  been in the game for over 10 years but to be honest her approaches to me were not realistic and practical. I’m not a financial guru but most persons are already living paycheck to paycheck, saving is almost near impossible and well now we have more VAT to worry about.

Naturally as a mother of two I have already had my family on a strict budget. Living in one of the richest countries of the Caribbean isn’t so glamorous when minimum wage is $210.00 per week, the average rent is $700.00 and to get decent education and health care you have to spend exorbitant amounts of money.

Being an adult is hard

Being an adult with kids is hard

Being an adult with kids in The Bahamas is harder

You have to consider so many things like:

Food

Life Insurance

Car Insurance

Car maintenance

House Insurance

Medical Insurance

Pension

School Fees

Mortgage

Utilities

and if you somehow manage to crawl out of your deep hole of debt maybe just maybe a vacation!

(Did I forget anything???)

From the first introduction of Value Added Tax years ago I’ve done some major and minor budgeting that may just be able to help someone out there.

Monitor your Grocery shopping habits. A few simple ways to do this is by creating a meal plan, creating a grocery list and sticking to it when going shopping and don’t shop while hungry.

Meal planning goes hand in hand with the grocery list. Really, if you know what you plan to cook for the entire week then you know what you need to buy. This also eliminates additional stops to the grocery store which can also cause unnecessary expenditures.

The last part seems funny but study shows that when persons shop while hungry they tend to pick up more stuff out side of the grocery list based on hunger. I’ve seen this happen personally with myself so I 100% agree. Also if you can, leave the kids at home. They always want something additional that you more than likely did not budget for but for your sanity just put the coco puffs in the trolley!

You can also look at paying your bills weekly. Now of course this can be tricky for those who get paid bi weekly or even monthly and I would imagine there would be some adjustments to this given that knowledge. However, I found that it is easier for a person to come up with $20 weekly for a $100 bill verse the entire $100 one time. The whole idea is to eliminate large payments.

Now pause, I know what you are thinking, who has time to go in BEC or Cable Bahamas every week with $20. Got it and noted. This can work two ways. If you bank online  you can take advantage of the automated features and schedule your bill payment every week. Almost all of the major banks have this option online however I would encourage you to visit your local branch if you have any further questions about this.

Another option is to simple buy some mason jars (some nice ones can be found in Kelly’s, AID or Xtra Value) label them for each bill and put the money away every week.

Pic courtesy of Readers Digest

This will definitely require some discipline. You don’t want to touch the money until time to actually pay your bill and physically having it in sight can be tempting.

Another trick I’ve also used that comes in handy for my daughters lunch money is saving all of the dollar bills I receive as change and putting it away in the jar. As she needs funds for lunch every day I just go in the jar and I readily have it available and broken down in smaller notes for her convenience.

Of course there are many other tips and tricks. For example I pay my mortgage every 2 weeks verses every month which ties into the point I made above. Not only am I avoiding a bulk payment but I am also paying down on the principle faster.

There is always cutting back on fast food purchases, expensive outings, reducing use of electricity and water use at home etc.

Lastly, keep track of your spending. I’ll be the first to admit I can definitely splurge a bit here and there and before I know if poof my money is gone. For the month of June I plan to keep track of every dime I spend to see if I am spending on more wants than needs and if I need to cut back just a little bit more.

With the upcoming changes in just a few shorts week every little bit helps.

Do you have any saving tips you want to share? Leave a comment below.

Until next time…

 

 

 

 

 

Coins and College

Coins and College

Don’t let the title fool you. The cost of college is no where near coins, its all about the dollars, ALOT of dollars. And while we all hope to win big with Island Luck, get that financial aid or even remortage the home the reality is thousands of kids every year do not have the opportunity to attend college for the mere fact that they cannot afford it.

I had planned on attending college, I had toured the campus in Tampa, applied for my visa, filled all the applications and then it happened. That check that was suppose to come, well it didnt and I would be delayed in attending college. I didnt speak for weeks, I was disappointed and mostly heartbroken.

For many college is an after thought. Something that is not discussed or even thought about until the child is near completion of high school and then all of questions come pouring in. I eventually attended college but most of what had happened before couldve been avoided if there was a college savings plan in place. I teamed up with one of our very own financial and budgeting experts Rashad Moss who breaks down the why’s,what,how and when’s of college savings.

Why save for college?

As parents we all aspire to provide the best for our kid/s. Tertiary education is no different. If you aspire to have your kids attend college , a college savings plan would be a great way to lay your foundation. It would be silly to spend 18 years of talking about sending your kid to college and then realizing you don’t have the means to.  If you gonna buy a brand new Ford Escape and pay on it for 10 plus years while it depriciates every day then you might as well put $10 a week aside for college.

When is the best time to start saving?

Rashad encourages parents to start as soon as possible. If you want to start from conception, well even better! The more years you put into saving the more money you will receive. It simple mathematics really.

How do you estimate future college costs?

Inflation is inevitable. I mean last week my silk milk cost $6.51 and this week it was $7.51. I can only imagine the cost of college 5, 10 or even 15 years from now. Rashad doesnt want anyone to be discouraged from saving but it helps to project and anticipate that you may need to add an extra $5 once your kid begins high school just for a buffer.

What if I can’t afford it?

I can’t afford silk milk but I budget and make it work. Rashad explains that starting small does wonders for parents on a budget, especially single parents. Maybe your end goal may not be $50k based on your monthly savings however your child can end up with 20k and trust me for a kid with big dreams of going to college that 20k maybe all the start they need to get their foot in the door.

What if my child doesnt go to college?

Rashad and I laughed at this one. I told him I want my money back! But Rashad offered some excellent point of views. Not every one is college bound. There are some amazing small and large business that have been started by persons who either didnt go to college or dropped out (I mean look at Bill Gates). The money that you save could be a wonderful start to a much need beginning. It can fuel a young entreprenuers dreams, fund a vocational calling or be just the right amount you need to add that extra cabana you wanted on Exuma.

Regardless it would appear that saving for college is one of the best decisions you can make as a parent.

If you havent started as yet have a talk with your nearest College Saving expert and spark a conversation. If you don’t have an expert here you can use mine! Rashad is always available and can be reached here.

Till next time

XOXO

Step Right Up – The Holiday Carnival

Step Right Up – The Holiday Carnival

You never really  see it coming, one day you’re driving and notice a little sign around the round about “Holiday Carnival” or you may pass the set up area and see trailers off loading and then you know. It’s here!

(Video cred Michael Culmer 242 in the know)

Round and Round we go! McCafferty Enterprises sets up on Fort Charlotte and once again gives us locals another fun  time at the  Carnival. Not sure if they were hoping to gain the attention of tourists with the location change but with twice as much space and twice as much dust you can be sure that the new location adds to the nostalgia of the Holidays.

You won’t find an issue with parking although some areas are more well lit than others, there is ample space on either the eastern or western side of the Carnivals entrance. Being that I drive a particular vehicle that starts with the letter H I was particularly concerned but nonetheless it’s probably no safer than my own yard.

Once in expect to pay $7 for adults and $5 for kids age 3 years and younger/in a stroller are free of charge, but don’t quote me as this price seems to fluctuate (was told it was $5 for adults and $3 for kids but who knows)

 

Now you’re in!Fun begins and money starts to spend! Tickets! Tickets! Tickets! Depending on the age group most rides for younger kids start at 3 tickets and go up to 6 tickets  for the more mature crowd. Tickets are $1.25 each. This year they reintroduced the packaged tickets which for me made much more sense money wise.

With two kids in tow I purchased the family sheet and was on my way! I would imagine with a larger family you would need the larger package. Shoots even I was borderline low on tickets and found my self back on the line trying to balance out the last few rides so budget accordingly.

One thing I liked this year was that the tickets can rollover to another day (again don’t quote me). Normally you would have to use all of your tickets during the same visit or forfeit it all, ticket agent assured me this was not the case but I still tried to use just about all that I purchased. Oh but bear in mind there is no reentry.

 

 

 

This year there was over 15 rides not including the games, your favorite 25cent Glass throw, Balloon darts, I mean they all came back.

They brought back all the favorites and then some like the YoYo, Gravitron, Merry Go Round and Mr.Dragon!

 

Yes the Over and Under table is still there and yes so is the Kalik tent! Word of advice the Kalik tent has water for $1 the other guys has it for $3.

 

Traditionally I never buy food at the carnival with the exception of a few must haves like the pizza and of course cotton candy. I was surprised to find most vendors were actually “affordable”.  Had I not already infused in my child’s brain the promised of a my little pony toy from Mickey D’s I would have no issue treating myself to some chicken and fries!

 

 

Please keep in mind especially with little kids that bathroom situation is port a potties.  I don’t know about you but I’m not a huge fan of these things and unless I missed it there is no where to wash your hands. So if you don’t already take LOTS of Hand Sanitizer hand towels tissue…yea I think you get the idea or better yet just leave at this stage.

As usual over all the experience was a memory maker and with Arawak Cay right next door it made for the perfect time to stop and enjoy some fritters with the family and over look the harbor. Yes it is expensive but like MasterCard commercial the smiles I get is priceless.

Until next time…

The Gift of Giving

The Gift of Giving

Guess what!!! It’s Christmas!!

Yes, I’m sure you already knew this  and for those who celebrate like myself we all know what this means!

No not Eggnog! (well yea but that’s not what this post is about)

Presents!!!

Every year around  Christmas I am plagued with the same thoughts. How much gifts is too much for my kids. In a world where there are children who go without basic necessities I find it hard to go crazy and splurge on items that will more than likely be discarded for a cardboard box the very next day.

So how do you decipher what to buy your kids and how much is enough? I mean we all love to spoil our kids so it’s very easy to get carried away.  If you haven’t started buying gifts as yet (which by the way you should have) here’s a little trick I use. It’s called the One, Two, Three.

I choose three gifts, each with its own festive merriment that will surely put a smile on my kids faces.

Gift number ONE is for Leisure, something fun and probably what they begged for all year! Like that Snacking Susan Baby Alive Doll something called Shopkins (what is this?). It’s something fun and strictly for play time. It’s been asked for just about all year, go on spoil them with this one!

Gift number TWO is Educational. It can be a book, tablet, laptop anything that not only is fun but benefits and stimulates the mind.

Gift number THREE is always a toss up its either something Religious or a Noise Maker (considering your leisure item wasn’t already a noise maker). Parents please don’t beat me for the noise maker one but come on it’s Christmas, live a little.

Friends and Family usually come by and shower more gifts on top of One, Two, Three so really is a win win scenario!

Christmas is meant to be fun and a time spent with family. Let us remember those in need and spread the Christmas cheer through out all of our gift giving choose a charity of your choice and make someone smile.

So what are you buying your kids and whats your gift giving strategy?

Happy Holidays Everyone!!