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“Doh hang yuh hat higher dan yuh could reach”

Julia Holmes, the wife and mother in the TTMF puppet family, has some advice to give you about living within your means. With the influence of social media today, Julia knows it’s easy to get caught up in the desire to maintain a certain image. However, as you will discover below, Julia also has some wise words to share with you about staying true to your budget.

Social Media

From Instagram to Facebook to Twitter, my friends and I are constantly exposed to the newest trends in fashion, decor and food. I often see my friends sharing and posting brand name handbags, a new restaurant in Port-of-Spain that everyone wants to try, or the latest phone with a better camera than the last. Then, I have to remind my friends to check themselves, and “Doh hang yuh hat higher dan yuh could reach”, because all those temptations can quickly become a slippery slope towards an empty bank account. Luckily Clyde and I had spent a lot of time discussing our approach to savings and budgeting when we were originally researching a mortgage. We even implemented the 50/20/30 rule which helps us keep on track!


With our salary of $14k, the 50/30/20 rule splits it into:

50%:  $7,000: Essential Needs

20%:  $2,800: Financial Goals

30%:  $4,200: Lifestyle choices

This rule encourages you to spend in the following proportions:

  • Essential: $7,000
    No more than 50 percent of your income should be spent on your essential expenses.
    This refers to the costs that must be incurred in order to cover your basic needs such as mortgage costs, loan payments, utilities, transportation and groceries.
  • Financial: $2,800
    At least 20 percent of your income should be spent on financial priorities.
    This refers to items that are meaningful towards building a good financial foundation. Examples include retirement contributions, savings and insurance.
  • Lifestyle: $4,200
    No more than 30 percent of your income should be spent on lifestyle choices.
    This refers to expenses that are discretionary such as vacations, hobbies, gym memberships, restaurants, entertainment and shopping.

Hang yuh hat in a fitting spot

After going through this exercise with Clyde years ago, I realized I was spending more than 30 percent on lifestyle choices, and putting less than 20 percent into financial priorities like putting aside for our retirement. This was a huge wake-up call! Since that day, I have been spending less on handbags, and putting more aside for our retirement. I urge you to try out the 50/20/30 rule and see how you are doing! Let us know what you think of the 50/20/30 rule in the comments below!