How to Look Expensive on a Budget

clothes shopping on a budget

Summer is just around the corner and with the warm weather comes a new wardrobe.  No one wants to look like they just rolled out of bed, right?  I think it’s safe to say that ladies want to look their best and very often we associate that with expensive clothes and designer shoes.  Well that’s just not true.

The truth is with some legwork, a strict budget and creativity anybody can look like a well dressed diva on a budget.

Here are four ways to look fabulous on a dime:

Invest in basics

If you find a great tank top or basic t-shirt buy it in every color.  You can find great basis at H&M for under $10.  T-shirts and tank tops are always a good buy because they can be dressed up with a skirt and blazer or worn casually with jeans and flats.

Basics are also an easy way to add color into your wardrobe.  If you find a lot of your staple pieces are neutral colors like grey or black a bright pink t-shirt and add some sass to your outfit.

Splurge on essentials

The last thing you want is to have to buy a new pair of jeans every three months or a new suit every season.  It’s a good investment to splurge on wardrobe essentials because you want your most worn pieces to be durable and made with good quality.

Splurging doesn’t mean overpaying.  Still shop around and try to find the best deal, but don’t be afraid to spend a little extra cash for clothes that are going to last a long time.  Think of your power suit as a mortgage; it may seem like a lot of money up front, but amortized over time the cost is definitely worth it.

Think about multi-purpose pieces

If you’re like me you have favorite outfits.  You may always find yourself pairing the same jeans and t-shirt or the same boots and sweater, but if you want to get the most out of your wardrobe without spending a dime you’ll need to think outside the box.

Pair a blouse with a skirt that normally wouldn’t go together.  Fashion is whatever you want it to be and if you’re tired of wearing the same clothes all the time then you need to mix it up and start mixing and matching.

Go into the back of your closet

I once heard Tyra Banks say that if you haven’t worn something in two seasons a.k.a. six months then you should get rid of it.  Well I say if you haven’t worn something in six months and it’s still in your closet then wear it tomorrow.

Being stuck in a clothes rut and seeing yourself in the same rotation of outfits probably makes you want to go out and buy new clothes – I know that’s how I feel.  Not everyone has wiggle room in their budget for personal splurges so I say go shopping in your own closet – in the back of the closet to find inspiration for new outfits.  And you know what?  It won’t cost you a penny.

 

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When to Sell Your Investments – And When to Keep Them

Save money and invest

If you recently received your most up to date investment account statement in the mail or if you checked your investments online, how are they doing?  That’s probably a tough question to answer.  Here’s a better question, are you still happy with your investments?

If the answer is no then ask yourself why.  Maybe it’s time to sell your investments, pick new ones and rebalance your portfolio.

If you need the money

This may seem like an obvious reason, but trust me it’s not.  Sometimes people need a lump sum of cash for an emergency and immediately reach for their credit card instead of selling their investments.

It’s hard to make a withdrawal from an account that you’ve watched grow over the years; however having to sell your investments is better than getting into debt and paying interest.

If your investment objectives have changed

Finding the perfect investment for your needs is like finding the perfect red wine to go with your grilled steak – it’s perfection.  However if your investment objectives, risk level tolerance or time horizon change then it’s time to sell your investments and pick new ones.

Researching your investment options is the best way to build a well balanced portfolio that aligns with your needs.  If you’re investing for the short term and don’t want to take a lot of risk then maybe income mutual funds are right for you.  If you want to bet on the U.S. Dollar then maybe foreign investments are the perfect fit.

The next time you look at your statement check the objectives of your investments and ask if that sounds like you, if not then maybe it’s time to sell.

Here are two reasons to never sell your investments:

Just because the value dropped

If the value of your investment account is down it is the worst time to sell.  I know that no one likes losing money and seeing the value of your hard earned savings drop is unsettling.  However if you sell when the market (current) value is less than the book value a.k.a. the original purchase price then you are actually, physically and monetarily going to take that loss.

Looking at a low account balance is just a “paper loss”, you don’t actually lose money until you sell your investments.  My advice is to stop looking and leave the money where it is – at least until the market value surpasses the book value.

To lend money to someone

Mixing family and money is a bad idea all together, but it’s extremely a bad idea to do it as a pay day loan.  If you’re family members or friends are short on cash and need a loan to make ends meet until their next pay day what makes you think they’ll have more money next month?  They probably won’t.

If your mother needs a liver transplant and it’s a life or death situation then O.K. sell your investments, but otherwise please don’t sell your investments to lend money to your family and friends.

Keep the money invested and keep earning compound interest, that’s a much better idea.

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5 Things Your Family Budget Needs

Set your family budget for shopping.

Setting a family budget is both necessary and practical for the financial stability of your family – and for the emotional stability as well.  Money can be a source of stress for many families, but only if you let it.

If you want to improve your family finances to make room for new goals, improve your less than ideal current financial situation or just check in on your existing budget to see if there is anything you may want to do differently this is where it’s at.

Let me help you plan a family budget that makes everyone happy:

  1. Enough money to live

This should sound like a no brainer, but a lot of people don’t actually know HOW to set a family budget.  A lot of people think that living on a budget means spending what you earn and not a penny more.  That’s a good start, but that habit is called living within your means, not living on a budget.

Budget living means living within set spending limits and not splurging or overspending no matter what you do, how you feel or how bad of a day you’re having.  Living on a budget starts with spending less than you earn so you don’t end up living off of credit and also making sure you always have some money in your bank account.

  1. Emergency savings

If you don’t want to live paycheck to paycheck then step one is a must.  Having your expenses add up to less than your income is the first step towards living on your family budget.  Setting money aside for emergency savings is the second.

Having extra cash on hand is always a good thing for a family.  I think we can all agree that when you have kids you just never know what kind of unexpected expenses will pop up.

  1. Retirement money

Just because you’re a mom or dad doesn’t mean all of your hard earned money has to go towards providing for your kids.  Don’t forget to save for your own goals and dreams, don’t you want to retire someday?

  1. Education savings

We all want the best for our kids and sometimes that means pushing them to pursue a higher education.  Let’s be honest, a college degree is expensive.  You may not be able to save enough money to pay for all of the expenses, but every little bit counts.

  1. Room for debt repayments

A family budget ABSOLUTELY needs room for debt repayments.  If you don’t factor them in to your overall expenses you may not have enough money to make the payments.  No money leads to late payments and that leads to decreased credit scores and that’s not good.

If you need a little help  getting started on your family budget download my FREE budget template to help you set expenses and track spending.  Just look to the right —>>>

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Should You Pay for Your Kid’s Education?

Should you pay for your kid's education

Higher learning can open so many doors for your children.  Unfortunately pursuing an education after high school is not always affordable.  Does that mean kids usually don’t set college aspirations, yes it probably does.  Does that mean that you should pay for your kid’s education?  No it doesn’t.

I think it’s important for parents to teach their kids that the sky is the limit and not to let any barriers get in their way.  With that being said it doesn’t mean that parents need to hand their children everything with a silver spoon.  All we need to do as parents is make sure our children know about all the options available to them and teach them good financial habits from a young age.

Here’s how to make a college education affordable to everyone:

Community college may be a good fit

Attending college doesn’t mean your kids need to go to a four year Ivy league school.  That may be a dream for many, but a financial reality for only a select few.

Ask your children to look at alternatives such as going to a state school or community college.  Going away to school out of state adds a hefty price tag to the cost of already expensive tuition and books.

Invest in a 529 Plan

Should your kids get a free ride? No.  But that doesn’t mean you can’t help them out.  I think we can all agree that starting to invest when your kids are young can add up to a lot of money over time with the help of compound interest.

There are savings plans available specifically for the purpose of investing for your child’s education.  Talk to your local bank and ask about 529 Plans.

Help them find a part time job

Working during school – both high school and college – will make your kids appreciate the value of a dollar.  It will also help them gain valuable work (and social) experience that can make finding a job a lot easier after graduation.

Ask around about part time openings at local businesses and help your children work on their resume.  You can also practice interview skills, role playing is always fun.

Set realistic lifestyle expectations

So often teenagers move away for college and expect their life to stay the same as it did when they were living with you.  That’s just not how it’s going to happen.  They will most likely have next-to-no-money, may be living in a one bedroom apartment with three roommates and live off of bananas and Kraft Dinner for the entire first year of college.  That’s fine.

Struggling when we’re younger only makes us better people when we grow up.

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Travel Review: My trip to Turks & Caicos

This week is my wedding anniversary and I was thinking about how the husband really pulled out the stops planning me a surprise vacation to Turks and Caicos for our 3rd anniversay!

Tell me he isn’t the best husband ever??? All I had to do was throw 6 bathing suits in the bag, a couple of summer outfits, flip flops, shades and we were off.

Now I have to be honest. I was leery to go away. We had not been on a vacation alone since we had gotten married, every trip included at least one kid, 2 kids, four kids.

So this was a much needed yet also a very nerve racking trip. I had also never been away from my youngest daughter Summer for more than 1 night…  because I was still breastfeeding.

Anywho it was a beautiful flight down on Jetblue. They have a single 7a flight per day down to Provolencies PLS and we arrived in 2 hours and 44 minutes. Felt like I was back home in Barbados stepping off the plane,when is the last time you exited a plane on the tarmac? We reached the island before 10a, cleared immigration, from there it was only a 15- 20 min ride from the airport to our Hotel, The Carribbean Paradise Inn in Grace Bay Beach and we were in our swimsuits and on the beach by 11a!

Grace Bay is a well known tourist area with an amazing beach and we passed a lot of beautiful resorts on the way to our hotel like the Grace Bay Club and The Royal West Indian. I will admit the Caribbean Paradise Inn lacked any type of spectacular curb appeal, it’s a hotel, not a resort, with probably only 20 rooms, but what they lack in grandeur on the outside they make up for in beauty and tranquility on the inside.

If you like to be tucked away from the action and don’t want to constantly run into other guests at the bar or in the pool then this is the place for you. Similar to my experience in Miami at the Metropole Suites!

Since we arrived so early our room wasn’t ready, but the sun was hot and the weather was gorgeous so that’s how we ended up on the beach by 11a. By the way the beach, ahh, it was beautifulllllllll, the sand feels like powder under your feet and the water is definitely some of the clearest prettiest water I’ve seen in a long time.

After doing some research I actually found out that the majority of beaches in Turks are protected parks. The whole of Turks and Caicos is surrounded by a coral reef which is the 3rd largest on the planet, which totally explains the gorgeous water! Jetskis and water skis are not allowed in Turks because of this protected status. Bummer!

Another thing you want to keep in mind is that Turks is extremely expensive, even more so than a lot of other islands in the Caribbean.

After the beach we went and had lunch at The Grace Bay Club, a gorgeous beachfront resort in front of our hotel. Everything tasted great, but that lunch cost $100 US! We knew we needed to be smarter when deciding where to dine for the rest of our trip!

When we checked into our room, a first floor king room with a patio and walk out to the pool, shrouded in tropical flowers and banana trees  I knew my babe did sooo good, it was perfect.

We ate breakfast on our patio every morning and drank wine and smoked cigars out there every night, hardly encountering another soul for the rest of our trip. A few people in passing at night or checking out when we passed the reception desk in the morning, but there was never anyone at the pool when we used it or anyone at the bar when we drank there, it was almost like we had the entire place to ourselves even though every room was sold out.

That first night we surely didn’t have enough vitables to survive the night so on the second day we decided to rent 2 bikes and ride to the supermarket for snacks and just tour the island. We went to the shops on the main strip in Provo where you will find lots of familiar stores as well as more authentic places. Thats where we purchased souvenirs too! We also checked out the Turtle Cove Marina which is about 6 miles from Grace Bay Beach where the majority of the boat tours leave from (which start at $1600.00 for a half day and go up to over $3000!) we drank Turks Head Beer the local brand, collected conch shells and ate dinmer at the Tiki Hut.

On the 3rd day we beach lounged. One place you have to go while beach lounging is JAR! Its a vendor stand on the beach with a yellow roof that is near the Grace Bay Club and they sell coconuts that they open for you and stick a straw in! You can either drink the water plain or they’ll spike it with rum for you tooo! Get it with the rum, trust me you will thank me later!

That night we dined at Paul Newman’s restaurant Coyaba for our anniversary dinner! Definitely a very pretty restaurant, ambiance gets a 10 the food was good, but not spectacular, I’d give it a 7, the mosquitos that attacked us during our entire meal? I’d give them a big fat ZERO

All in all this was an amazing trip, would definitely return and stay at the exact same place! Reviews we saw online gave the Caribbean Paradise Inn an 8 out of 10 stars, I totally understand why, a jacuzzi would have pushed them to a 9 though!

Places to Go in Turks

Jimmy Dive Bar

Danny Boys

Jar on the beach

Things to Do

Rent a Bike

Rent a Scooter

Go ATV’ing

Go snorkeling

Take the Ferry to the other islands (since the boat tours are priced so crazy!)

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