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LOUISE FAIRSAVE: Lessons from mum

SHERRYLYN CLARKE, [email protected]

LOUISE FAIRSAVE: Lessons from mum

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My mother, in her quiet and self-effacing way, taught her children profound lessons in handling their personal finances. For sure, those were the days when it was common for fathers to be the sole or chief breadwinner of the household. As a result, fathers typically demanded and expected to drive all decisions and to command deference from the entire family. So, it was in my home: dad was king of his castle.
However, mum taught us all mainly by example and by her quiet advice and/or admonitions over time. Today, I present five potent money lessons which I learnt from mum:
1. Save: She taught us that no matter how little or how much money we had, we should always save a proportion. First, we must have a sum laid away for a rainy day. Then, by saving consistently, we were told that we would be able to afford and acquire better and/or more costly goods in the future, whilst always holding onto an emergency fund. Typically we were encouraged to save towards acquiring a lot of land in the first instance and hopefully to leverage a mortgage to buy/build a home of our own. For a simple example, during our childhood, we followed this mantra to improve our family gift-giving at Christmas time as the years advanced.
2. Live within your means: Mum encouraged us to ignore the Joneses completely and to design a life based on our means. We were pointed to let our dreams for our lives in the long term drive our ability to earn and to save; if we dreamed of a better life, then we should aim to earn more – commensurate with that lifestyle. Brand name or expensive gear was not as important as being clean and tidy in whatever we could afford. Incidentally, mum was also very strong against inordinate TV watching; she explained that the movie stars earned their income by the public watching them, whereas the watchers usually were wasting away their valuable time, not developing in any significant way. That wasted time was better spent earning or improving the capacity to earn by resting, studying or physical training.
3. Don’t look for handouts: this warning was specifically about expecting help from family or friends. Mum always pointed out that she looked to no one outside our immediate family to help her raise her children. She just planned her finances to suit the family income, never expecting help from others. So, at no time should we expect or ask family or friends to lend or give us financial support. If necessary, we were to seek official sources of loans, and furthermore we should always completely repay what was owed.
4. Keep positive: She encouraged us not to complain about our financial circumstances; for her it was important to keep positive, no matter how difficult a situation was. This was a profound lesson in facing life’s challenges as they came, quietly and contentedly enduring even when it was difficult to cope. She was convinced that a strong faith favoured seeing an early appeasement of the problem or an outright positive result.
5. Give to the church/poor: Mum believed that giving to others was a ritual of happiness; by giving a part of our earnings or possessions, we were acknowledging our satisfaction with our lot in life. Our giving should be generous and even when the amount donated is a mite relatively to the cause, the important point is that we would have given generously and that that gift is in proportion to our ability to give.
• Louise Fairsave is a personal financial management adviser, providing practical advice on money and estate matters. Her advice is general in nature; readers should seek advice about their specific circumstances.
This column is sponsored by the Barbados Workers’ Union Co-op Credit Union Ltd.