Picture this. Christmas 2020 and I am walking through Bridgetown. To the average reader, this may not seem to be a big deal. But to my family, this is an occurrence that should be etched in the family’s history books. I love Bridgetown – the history, the old buildings, the architecture, the bridges, the careenage and the parks. But, it’s not somewhere I go too often.
Prior to 2020, the last time I visited Bridgetown was sometime around 2017 or 2018. A friend of mine wanted to buy some glass bowls and vases for a Christmas centerpiece, so we went to a store in Mall 34 and then headed over to Woolworth. That was it.
Fast forward a couple years to December 2020. There I was. Walking through Bridgetown with my mother, with a longgggg list of things that she wanted to buy. My issues with Bridgetown (pre-COVID-19) are that parking is far away from the action and it’s always busy with lots of people on the streets. This could be a good or bad thing either way, but the sun is too hot in the Caribbean for excessive walking during the day, and dodging people on crowded sidewalks and streets is not fun.
Five Money Lessons From Walking Through Bridgetown
However, that grateful day in December, was a day that I will never forget. Instead of focusing on the things that I did not like about Bridgetown, I found space to highlight the things that I did like. It turned out to be a great experience that came along with a few good money lessons. And the bonus was that there weren’t many people in town, even thought it was the Christmas season.
1. Shopping Around Can Save You Money
I’ve mentioned this before time and time again, but recently I’ve been shying away from this because I’m just too lazy to do it. But this time, shopping around saved me some money. I saw a Christmas tree on the ProSales Instagram page and it was $50. In Bridgetown I passed many stores with Christmas trees and they were all over $100. I stuck out for the one at ProSales and when I got there, I got my tree for $50. I’ll also add that my mother is the queen of shopping around and she was going to find the best bargain whether I liked it or not.
2. My Budget is My Rock
I mentioned earlier that I had a long list of things to buy, but I did not tell you that I had a budget set for the day. I knew that when all of my money was gone, that would be the end of the day. So, I had to be strategic about what I bought and where I bought it from. I had budgeted for the Christmas tree, so I knew what it cost. However, the other items on my list were essentially question marks. Yes, I had estimates, but the actual prices could have been way higher. Thankfully, I was able to get everything on my list within the budget I had created. I think this would have been easier if stores in Barbados had online shops that I could peruse and make plans for shopping.
3. Everything Has a Price and a Value
If you’re familiar with Swan Street and the side streets in Bridgetown, you will know that there are lots of vendors. You will find people selling everything including clothing; socks; vegetables; fruit; fruit juices; fragrance oils; jewellery; and now reusable cloth masks. The masks stood out to me, because they reminded me of the times that we’re in. But they also taught me an important lesson about walking through Bridgetown. Everything has a price and a value, but value depends on the situation of the buyer. Right now, we all need masks, so this commodity is extremely valuable, and we are willing to pay asking price for them.
4. Observe What’s Going on and Adapt
As I walked through Bridgetown, I noticed that many of the large stores that I remembered from previous trips were gone. In fact, that a space that housed one store, was now divided into two or three spaces. This was a bold move by landlords who probably realised that renting a large space for $2,000 was difficult and that it might be easier (and more beneficial) to rent two smaller places at $1,500 each. This is a great lesson for your personal finances. Take a look at what’s going on around you and make changes that will bring more benefit to your financial position.
5. There is Nothing Wrong Multiple Streams of Income
Earlier I mentioned that there were lots of vendors in Bridgetown and I came across a few vendors selling masks. I actually started a conversation with one of the ladies selling the masks. When I asked her if she made the masks, she said that her cousin makes them and she sells them for her. The cousin has a full-time job, but the vendor was helping her out by selling them in Bridgetown because she was between jobs. This is a wonderful lesson that shows that you can have a full-time job and still pursue something else on the side. In this case, it provided employment to a young lady who was out of work.
Admittedly, my trip to town was not that bad, but it does not mean that I’ll make it a monthly habit. I’ll try to create a tradition of going to the city at least once a year. But I’ll make sure that I walk with a list and I will follow my budget.