With over two months since the reopening of the entertainment sector and the ease of travel restrictions since the pandemic, many are looking to compensate for the time spent in lockdown by living it up. But with the cost of living increasing rapidly, executive financial adviser Tiffany Lawson weighs in on how to ‘braff’ (enjoy yourself) on a budget, with balance being the key.
“I’ve seen so many people work their entire lives and save all this money, only to have the money outlive them, or allow themselves to finally spend some of it on things they enjoy when they’re not physically able to enjoy it to the fullest extent, ”said Lawson.
“Life is about balance. Find that balance between saving and splurging. It’s okay to treat yourself and braff once in a while, as long as it isn’t derailing you from your financial goals and the timeline you have set for them, ”she continued.
Lawson, whose lifestyle encapsulates ‘braffing on a budget’, became a financial adviser for Sagicor after first serving as their make-up artist. She said it had been her mission to show others that they can enjoy themselves without making risky financial decisions.
CREATE A FUND FOR LEISURE
“I wanted to show people that, hey, you can braff sometimes and spend a little money on yourself, just make sure you don’t go broke in the process. Keep your braffing within the constraints of your budget! ” she cheerfully explained.
According to Lawson, the most practical way to get the most out of your money is by ensuring that you have created a fund for leisure and to support your lifestyle.
“Allot some money in your budget towards your braff expenses. Whether your big splurge is on a particular event or vacation destination, put aside money monthly to be able to enjoy that luxury without going broke, ”she explained.
She also encourages finding other streams of income, as she acknowledges that in some cases, with little to no salary increases and a rising cost of living, there is not always a lot of “wiggle room” in the financial plans.
“There are oftentimes where there is nothing you can cut out of your budget to have any extra money to enjoy life. I don’t believe in ‘Team No Sleep’, or what many have made the hustle mentality to be at this point. So, we just have to look into making some more money, ”Lawson said.
“If you have a skill or special talent, figure out how to turn that into a side hustle. And don’t allow people to guilt you into thinking you’re not allowed to splurge a little while working on your financial goals, ”she continued.
She noted that budgeting is not always easy, because most people do not have a clear idea of their monthly expenditures.
TRACK YOUR EXPENSES
“It’s important to track your expenses to get a clear picture of where your money is going each month. This is how you prioritize your spending and saving. You’ll know how much money needs to be set aside each month for basic living expenses, your financial portfolio, and your lifestyle costs / wants, ”Lawson expressed. “This will also allow you to put into perspective how much extra income is needed to properly fund everything. If you’re living pay to pay check, it’s even more important to try to manage where every dollar is going, as you’re more at risk of losing track of discretionary spending and therefore, could end up in debt or being unable to tick anything off of your financial goal list, ”she continued.
While Lawson advised on how to have fun with your money, she also highlighted and cautioned against taking out loans in the name of luxury and lifestyle.
“Chances are, if you have to borrow a loan to fund your leisure, you don’t have an emergency fund. Why would you put yourself in an unnecessary debt situation when an emergency can pop up, which can force you to be unable to pay back said debt for some time – therefore putting you in a worse-off financial situation? ” she questioned pointedly.
“The interest rates on unsecured loans are so high that you would be derailed from your financial goals. This is why it’s important to save towards these things. How much can you really enjoy a vacation if you have impending debt looming over your head? Then you end up in a vicious cycle of paying off one loan, to then borrow another one for your next vacation. And if this pandemic has shown us anything, it’s that life comes at you fast, ”she explained.
She also urges young people to make good financial decisions early, in preparation for the rest of their lives.
“Time flies! In the blink of an eye, you’re no longer so young, and you’ll have the repercussions of your financial recklessness staring right back at you. Seriously, if you don’t have a chick or child, you’re in a position to save as much of your income as you’ll ever be able to. If you can start saving and investing while you’re young, regardless of how small the amount is, it could be one of the best financial decisions you’ll ever make, ”she pointed out.
Lawson, who is also Sagicor’s 2021 Adviser of the Year first runner-up, says it is best to make sure you use your money to your benefit, and be comfortable enjoying it as much as possible.
“You’re allowed to enjoy some of the fruits of your labor. Just make sure you’re using your money to do things you actually love or enjoy, and not to impress people who won’t be there to help you pay your bills at the end of the month, ”she advised.