The Camps are here – Choosing a Summer Camp

The Camps are here – Choosing a Summer Camp

It felt like I attended school all over again this year and so naturally when my daughter school closed I was filled with relief. Summer time is magical. The kids get a break from waking up at the crack of dawn, I get a break from traffic and we all are living our best summer lives.

But after a month or so, boredom sets in, glued to smartphones , Netflix, and Youtube  is just not a productive way to spend three months and since I don’t have an off island Grammy to ship my little ones to here I am once again doing the summer camp dance.

I have to tell you this year I have seen some really interesting and creative camps, there are so many that I definitely can’t list them all but if you have a chance be sure to check all the magic of summer here.

Why summer camp you may ask?  Well, aside from offering a great balance out to the unstructured, school-free months, summer camps are also fun, build character, and provide opportunities  to meet new friends and possibly reconnect with former classmates. Plus, kids can discover new interests and stay intellectually engaged.

There have been a lot of new faces on the camp scene lately and  I have been seeing a lot of videos on social media where children have been mistreated by those that have been entrusted with their care. That being said always do your research and choose wisely.  I live for reviews and rely on my mom circle to get insight on any new venture that myself or my children may embark on.

So how do you choose what camp your child goes to? Well it all depends on what your end goal maybe. Perhaps you want to go the academic route, explore technology or outdoors, have them learn a new skill, explore the performing arts or do something athletic. I personally choose more fun as it is the summer and I want to give my kids a break, however I am not opposed to my daughter learning to bake,or perhaps singing her heart out as she loves to do.

What about your budget? Listen to me as a parent who already pays school fees I do cringe at the cost of summer camps. Most if not all camps are on par with my daughters school fee and aren’t even open all day! That being said, I understand the struggle and sacrifice that comes with the magic of summer. I consider the entire camp experience when weighing my pro’s and cons. I look at the programs offered, if there is lunch or not lunch, field trips,hours, after care the total experience. If I’m gonna be shelling out cash the camp/ summer school experience is going to be lit!

Tell me about your summer camp experience and if your kids will be attending camp this year.

Till next time

xoxo

 

 

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…

 

 

 

 

 

Three Young Pigs

Three Young Pigs

I’m sure we all remember stories like Little Red Riding Hood and Goldilocks and  the Three Bears. These stories and other similar ones were staples growing up and gave us morals and principles to live by that still stand today.

Now that I have kids of my own I am always looking for new and exciting reads that will keep them off the electronic devices and in the books.

The Three Young Pigs promises to give the same life lessons with a witty and fun story line that is sure to be a new favorite.

Author Lisa McCartney has always been grounded in story telling. Being an educator her passion for teaching  life lessons goes beyond the classroom. Transitioning from exiting the classroom and homeschooling, Lisa decided to reinvent herself by marrying her passion for writing and children.

The Three Young Pigs wasn’t so much more than a sermon during a Children’s Ministry meeting when several of the attendants started asking for copies of the notes. It was then Lisa knew she was onto something and 2 years later “Three Young Pigs” was finally published.

Three Young Pigs is a story about three pigs named Lost, Carnal and Spirit Filled who set out to find the true success in life by making the right choices and reaping the rewards as a result from Master Pig. The book is appropriate for kids age 4-9.

You can purchase Three Young Pigs locally at Logo’s Book Store, Chapter One Book Store, Amazon.com or on visit the Facebook Page.

Lisa is not done with writing and plans to grace her with more fun filled stories.

I’ve gotten my copy! Be sure to grab yours.

 

Until Next Time!

XOXO

 

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