My grandmother never had a lot of money, but she always managed to have enough to put food on the table and to pay every bill on time.
Here are a few of the things I learnt from her. Not all of them have to do with money, but they’re all drawn from an everyday life of hard work, thrift and “keeping the wolf from the door”!
Save for a “rainy day”
Have an emergency fund. Unexpected things happen. My grandmother couldn’t go running to the bank for an emergency loan or overdraft. Always have something to “tide you over” in the food cupboard and the money pot.
The most important things every month are our savings and to pay the rent or mortgage. The rest is a luxury. There’s always a new way to spend money, but the secret is in making-do with the things around us which we already have or which don’t cost much.
“Waste not, want not”
“Want” in the sense of not having something that you need. Cook at home, use left-overs, never throw food away, learn basic recipes that are cheap to prepare and filling and nutritious. Don’t throw money away on anything unnecessary.
“Look after the pennies, and the pounds will look after themselves”
It’s all those small expenditures that we might think are nothing that can really add up and make the difference between staying within budget or blowing it out of the water! “A penny saved is a penny earned.”
“Don’t go throwing your money around”
Let’s not go around thinking we’re millionaires and spending as though we were! Let’s not “live a life of luxury” that we can’t afford. Otherwise we’ll never be a millionaire!
“It’s not what you spend, it’s what you don’t spend”
Spending money doesn’t make you rich, even though it might make you feel rich… for a while. It’s all about what you don’t spend!
“While you’re earning, you’re not spending”
Keep yourself busy at work, and you’ll have less time to go out spending money on things in the shops, meals out, etc. Double positive effect on your finances. Many people with partners who don’t work don’t worry so much about the loss of income, but rather the extra expenses from them having so much free time on their hands!
“Never put things on the never-never”
In other words, don’t buy things that you can’t afford to pay for in cash. Never take credit for anything except a mortgage.
“Pay for everything in cash. It’s cheaper!”
Paying interest when you buy something makes it an expensive purchase.
“You have to earn your keep”
Nothing is for free, and free-loading is not allowed. It’s unfair on the rest.
“Everyone has to do their bit”
Everyone in the family has to do what they can, whether it’s helping around the house or bringing in a bit of extra income to put on the table every month add to the family savings account.
“There’s no such thing as a free lunch”
Don’t expect anything for free in this life. You have to work for it!
“Rome wasn’t built in a day.”
It takes patience to acquire the comforts of life. You probably won’t get rich quickly, but if you’re careful, you might just get rich slowly.
“Where there’s a will, there’s a way”
If you really want to achieve something, you’ll find a way to do it. whatever the obstacles.
“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try again”
Don’t give up, even if you fail a few times to start with. If you keep trying, you’ll succeed in the end.
“If a thing’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well.”
Don’t waste your time doing things “half-heartedly”.
“Don’t do things by halves.”
If you’re going to do something, give it your all! Otherwise, what’s the point!
“There’s a time and a place for everything.”
Doing the right things at the right times is crucial. This involves prioritising and focusing on one thing at a time.
“A miss is as good as a mile.”
If you narrowly fail, you’ve still failed! Make sure you succeed by working on whatever you’re doing as hard as possible. And never give up!
“Neither a borrower nor a lender be.”
This actually comes from ‘Hamlet’ which my grandmother probably never read, but this quotation was very much in use in her generation. It speaks for itself.
“Lend your money and lose the friend.”
Lending money to other people is fraught with difficulties. It’s better to help them find a job or to give them good, solid financial advice. If a loan comes too easily, your friend could well be in the same or greater difficulties later on and then you’ll never get your money back, which will sour the friendship forever.
“Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.”
Don’t bank everything on one thing! Diversify!
“Pull yourself up by your bootstraps.”
This is the old philosophy of self-help to get ahead in life. Still very valid today.
“You got yourself into it, you get yourself out of it.”
As far as I can tell, this one was my grandmother’s own invention. Don’t expect other people to bail you out of problems of your own making.
“Beware of Greeks bearing gifts.”
If someone gives you something, the chances are they want something (usually a lot more) in return. Beware! Look what happened to Troy!
“In the olden days… ”
My grandmother used to use this phrase when she was telling me how good things were now compared to when she was growing up during and after the First World War. Tough times!
“Having a whale of a time.”
For my grandmother, this meant the simple joys in life like having the family round for a few hours, playing cards or a board game, going for a walk in the park… None of these things really cost anything. No flashy cars or expensive jewelry for her! Sometimes, she would even spoil herself and buy an ice cream!