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Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Economy, Carnival and You.

Though I do not live in the United States (U.S.) it has been a tense few months following their financial crisis knowing that very soon the effects would be felt in Trinidad and Tobago despite the many protests by Government Ministers that Trinidad would not be affected. This week, we Trinidadians were asked to "tighten our belts" by none other than the Prime Minister himself. Inflation rate has soared in Trinidad to the highest ever at 15.4 % while oil prices continue to drop; cut back on spending we are told and for many the Christmas and Carnival season ahead will be a very sober one.


All this comes as my friends in the U.S. have been reeling from the downturn in that economy, suffering from losing their homes, jobs and savings; I personally know one person who lost their house, three who lost their jobs and several others who do not know if they will have a job in the coming New Year. Their counterparts across the pond are not doing better either, one friend of mine has to pay £1000 on a return ticket to Trinidad and is complaining bitterly at how expensive living expenses are in London while another may not have a job to return to after being on leave.



Several persons have expressed to me that if not for the fact that they have already budgeted and paid for their Carnival 2009 trip (ticket, costume and accommodation) that they would cancel it altogether. And while others are cutting the days spent in Trinidad shorter than they normally do, some are not making the trip at all since the "time is not right" to go off on leave.

For me I am pretty happy that the bulk of my costume payment has been made and that I have budgeted to pay off the rest at the end of this month so I do not have that headache to contend with while simultaneously cutting back on spending. It is also with relief that I did some of my Carnival shopping earlier in the year and have my boots, part of my Monday wear and fletch dry powder. Other items I plan on reusing from 2008 Carnival like my gel insoles which I only wore those two days and a pair of boots.

The main Carnival cost cutting measure for me will come in scaling back on the fetes. I am waiting patiently for fete prices to be released and have made the decision that if needs be I will not go to any fetes in January. There is only one fete on my calender that is a must do so far, the other potential fetes I am looking to attend will all be dependent on prices. Another thing I have started is assembling my Carnival wardrobe, taking advantage of sales now and doing my shopping online. Sorry but I am avoiding the Trinidad boutiques that have inflated prices by 200%, and I am not getting one thing from the growing popularity of Facebook Boutiques who also mark up their prices by much more than what is being sold at Ami Club Wear and Cutesy Girl where they get their inventory.

The hair budget for Carnival has also been slashed, I am not doing braids for sure and will most likely wear my hair in a ponytail saving about $100.00US right there! I am keeping the makeup artist for Tuesday however, somethings I simply cannot cut out completely. These may seem like little things to cut back on for those of you still thinking about how to pay off the balance on your costume, but they do add up. I spend way too much money on Carnival accessories and extras (body jewels, glitter, tights, eyelashes), money that is not even taken into account when doing my Carnival budget (yes I have a budget for everything!).

The goal is to spend less, save more, even for those of us who can afford to splurge on something as superfluous as a Carnival costume while others cannot even pay their bills or put food on the table. While I do appreciate the fact that being able to enjoy and participate in Carnival is somewhat of a luxury , it cannot be denied that the financial crisis is hitting too close to home to enjoy the season of bacchanalia without some concern.



So, please share how the economy has affected you, your plans for Carnival and what measures, if any, are you putting in place to spend less, save more? Looking forward to your comments or you can email me at trinicarnivaldiary@yahoo.com.


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