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…

 

 

 

 

 

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!!

 

 

 

My $10 Boat Excursion

My $10 Boat Excursion

I am always on the look out for fun and affordable family entertainment, so when I stumbled upon this new excursion I immediately added it on my summer to do list.

Total Package Water Sports Cruise has an awesome summer feature called  Family Sunday Sail Away. Every Sunday from June 4th to August 27th you and your family can enjoy a beach day at Rose Island packed with games, prizes and surprises.

For only $10, anyone above the age of two (age two and under is free) can enjoy a boat ride from Prince George Wharf to Rose Island. No food and drinks are allowed on board and believe me they do search your bags before you enter but no worries on board there are food and drinks on sale. Most meals run for about $6 max and the menu comprised of items such as fritters, hotdog and hamburgers, mixed drinks, waters and sodas.

Enjoy the hour ride by taking in the views of the harbor and a brief stop for fish feeding before docking on Rose Island.

Once on Rose Island do as you please but be sure to not get left behind! The ride back is filled with Family Oriented Games and prizes by the friendly crew to help keep the kids entertained.

No need to purchase tickets in advance or make reservations. Simply just show up and the rest is up you.

 

Check out flyer below for more details and as always stay safe!

 

Till next time…

XOXO

How I Cut The Cable Cord

How I Cut The Cable Cord

Recently I ditched cable. I’ve been making baby steps but ultimately I cut the cord.

I’ve seen persons talk about, read articles about it, but could this actually work, and in the Bahamas?

I remember when we got cable in the early 90’s. It truly was the best thing since slice bread, the channels were endless. We had everything from BET to Animal Planet with no additional cost. But then I grew up and well things changed.

The price went up and the options sorta kinda sucked.

So naturally being, well,  me I thought I’d try life without cable. 

At first I couldn’t just go cold turkey. I reduced the packages I had and went back to basic. I turned in one box at a time, weaning myself slowly for the inevitable. 

Easy right?

OK then I got myself an android box, watched some YouTube tutorials and got Kodi up and running. If you’re looking for a great YouTube tutorial try this one here.

At first I only used Kodi. It’s like the ultimate android box app and really if you don’t have it you’re probably not using your box right. But then I missed live TV. Sure Kodi had some Live TV functions but it never seemed to work right for me and when it did, it was very limited in options. So I had to do some more searching. I got tired of watching the shows after they broadcast, I wanted to be in the know and live in the moment!

Here is where I discovered Mobdro. Mobdro has to be one of the best Live TV Apps out there right now. The options are pretty good even without paying for the premium edition. I did hit a snag when I first started using Mobdro however, my android box though quad core, which according to reviews and whats not seem to have great capabilities, wasn’t quite good enough to stream the live shows. I kept getting a time lag where the words moved much faster than the picture and that was driving me nuts.

Insert Amazon Firestick! This bad gal gave me zero issues. The speed and the definition was on point. My android box was a bad ass but Alexa, she’s good people. I’ve had zero issues with Mobdro since.

I also discovered USTV now which also offers Live TV channels. Both Mobdro and USTVnow are free. How can you beat free? They do offer premium options at an additional cost but I am quite content with what they have to offer for free. If you’re thinking of downloading here are the links below.

USTV Now      Mobdro

How could I divorce cable without getting Netflix? This is probably the only app I pay for and well it’s worth it. My sister thinks I am crazy as I can probably find the same things that are on Netflix on Kodi but how can you not love it. Plus the user interface makes it much easier when Navy wants to put on some silly show like Larva! (Have y’all seen this crap?)

Of course I still have internet and phone with the cable guys, but now my bill is under $100 bucks a month so I really can’t complain. I did need to increase my internet speed with a little WiFi booster. There are local stores like this one here that has a great selection!

 I did consider “flowing” with the other guys but after waiting nearly a month for installation that relationship was over before it started.

I know what you’re thinking. But what about the news? My mom asks me this all the time.  Really, I don’t care much for the news but if I do need to find out whats going on there’s good ole Facebook (no not Bahama News Ma Bey!) where the Tribune and Nassau Guardian issue live updates should there be something ground breaking going on. Also I have no issues watching it on Kodi through the Phoenix add on, then there’s newspapers and I hear it every morning on my drive to work.

I imagine with time these things will need to be updated or even replaced with another new program but for now this works and it’s working great.

So there you have it. I cut the cord! Did you?

Till Next Time…

XOXO