Financial Freedom – The Old People Speak

These days the Internet is full of magical solutions. These create the impression that you can save money you do not have, and live beyond your means. I have to say that this is absolute rubbish. Our collective culture is stacked with quotes by our ancestors that confirm this. Today, I decided it would be interesting to dig out a few of these wise sayings, and discover what we can learn from them.

South African Rand coins

Cut Your Coat According to Your Cloth

Urban legend holds that some time ago a man asked a tailor to make a coat for him. You see, in those days tailors stitched their customer's cloth together and had to make do with what they had. The customer wanted wide lapels and double-breasted fastenings with overlapping buttons. There was not enough material for all that. The tailor said, "I am going to cut your coat according to your cloth so no double breasts and no tails this time".I wish I knew what happened next, all those years ago.

This is a great saying, and one that we should remember especially if we are parents. The last thing we ought to do is raise hope in little ones that we cannot deliver. Politicians right around the world attract votes with promises they can never meet. There is only so much money in the world and in our pockets. We have to come out on it - as individuals, as a nation and as a species too.

Obey the Golden Rule

Ronald Reagan said that several times, and he certainly got America out of fiscal trouble. The Golden Rule echoes the commandments, for it states that we should treat others as we wish that they would treat us. This principle of reciprocity applies equally to family finances. These often fall apart if one member is spendthrift.

I know of far too many families where a member is a drug addict, a heavy drinker or a compulsive gambler. None of these is sufficient reason to drag family finances down. Such things never bring financial freedom or happiness for that matter. I you cannot afford these habits, then please seek help and do so now. Obey the golden rule. Your family comes first.

Invest in Thinking. It Pays Good Interest

Marketing messages constantly bombard us. Micro lenders advertise everywhere. Woolworths wants to convince us to double up our purchases for a tiny discount regardless of our finances. Eskom keeps pretending their tariff is fair to ordinary South Africans. Those marketers are smart. They know how to push our buttons. We can resist them, if we know how.

  • Check the use-by date. Are you able to use the product within this period?
  • What is the sell-by-date? Are they shifting stock about to go stale?
  • Would you buy the product at the regular price? Do you really need it?
  • Will you remember this tomorrow, if you refuse to buy today?

If you have doubts at all, think about the purchase first. Invest in thinking. It is a great way to avoid temptation and save money. Do you really need a new car?

A Stitch in Time Saves Nine

We are tempted to ignore reality when we get into financial difficulty. We allow our credit cards to max out, and go sixty days late on debt. This is when we say "if only" we had done something about it earlier. The original expression refers to the wisdom of repairing a hole in a jersey before in unravels completely. I believe it has other, more important implications for us.

The core thought is, do not put important things off for tomorrow. If your child is mysteriously ill, speak to the doctor right away. If your car is low on oil, top the engine up. If your relationship is falling apart, do something about it. Don't let your life unravel before your eyes.

Let Experience Speak

As we move out into adult life, we become self-confident. This has its place. However, it can never replace wisdom. I wrote this blog in the hope of persuading you to listen to cultural values. They may be old-fashioned yet much of what they say remains true. Without the past generations that we come from, we are lesser people. Did you find this interesting? I hope so. I will be back soon!