In times of Austerity, should we still stash?_______________________________________________________
I probably must have heard the maxim “Save for a Rainy Day” a million times, spanning from my childhood to adulthood. I remember the first time it was used in my hearing I was hiding under the dining table at home happily feasting on candies out of a brown paper bag, unaware that my parents were watching me. “You will get worms,” my mother yelled, frightening me. The bag fell from my hands in my fright and I watched in horror as candies scattered on the floor around me. My father shifted the table, bringing me to full view of him and my mother. I hung my head in shame and was quickly plagued by the delicious candies around me. “You are too gluttonous,” shouted my father. “Learn to save for a rainy day.” I continued to look at the candies. There were the car-shaped candies which came in assorted colors such as yellow, blue, green and pink and most importantly plenty of the forever popular paradise plum. This candy except for its texture and vibrant two-tone, yellow and red, reminded me of a slug, the garden pest which melts easily when salt is poured on it. My father in the meantime wasn’t quite through reprimanding me about the candies as I took stock of them. Ultimately his reprimand radiated to my absent siblings. “You and the rest will suck salt through wooden spoon later on in life if you don’t learn to put away something for the next day. Learn to cut and carve,” he raged on as my mother cleaned my hands and mouth of liquefied sugar and then picked up the candies that fell on the ground, for safe keeping.
At the time my father’s reprimands were too difficult to understand. My mother’s was quite easy because all the children in my surroundings were told by their elders that eating many sweets caused worms. To prove their point, without giving thought to over-eating, any child seen with a protruding belly or bang belly as we called it then, would be considered a victim of worms. Do sweets really cause worms? Maybe my mother was using another one of her scare tactics. Mothers in trying to protect children always seem to scare them into temporary oblivion whereas fathers project the raw truth that dwells. My father was excellent at doing this. However, in today’s society his style of rebuke probably would be viewed as verbal abuse. His “suck salt through wooden spoon” and “learn to cut and carve” sayings were used by him as needed and had puzzled and haunted me for many years until I was old enough to translate them. It turned out that they were linked to the saying “Save for a Rainy Day.”
My father, when he had caught me with the bag of candies, knew right away that there were multiple servings in the amount. The fact that I was trying to eat all must have broken his heart. He abhorred greed and recklessness. Other times, in similar situations, he would have whipped my behind but luckily for me as it were he decided to give me a tongue-lashing instead. In his raw speech or reprimand he was grooming me for the future. No doubt it was in the same manner which was bequeathed to him by his parents and elders who in turn had received it from their forefathers. The aim in all of this, I suppose, was for me to place value where it belonged, be responsible, conserve, show respect, use my discretion, avoid stress as well as peer pressure, cope with the trials of life, be a decent leader, be resourceful, stay within the perimeters of my financial setting, not go shopping for Champagne knowing that I can only afford to buy beer. At this point, I should testify that as a buyer my bouts of instant gratification often lead to buyer’s remorse. Most importantly my father wanted me to learn the art of putting away money, as savings, from even the smallest amount that I would receive.
Save for a Rainy Day. How is it progressing? Perhaps some of us in our attempt to save for a rainy day, be it about food, personal effects or money, have lost will or faltered by the way. There are also times when our efforts to save money are placed in capable hands yet there is failure. A prime example of capable hands is the stock market which will plummet without warning, causing financial woes. The elders in summing up the situation would have said, when trouble coming, shell not blowing. In my opinion whether or not there was adequate warning, the result is still disappointing. I hold the stock market in high esteem and therefore I do not expect failure. Such a situation leaves me to lament, giving way to comments such as: I would have been better off going to Las Vegas, Atlantic City or Foxwoods Casinos to gamble my money instead of letting those farts do it. I could have saved my money in my mattress or buried it in the ground somewhere in the outdoors. The stock market is a pimp, a melting pot of greed and high class gambling. I should have been more mindful of the quote, “The safest way to double money is to fold it over once and put it in your pocket.” Of course, to me, my comments are tension-easing and obviously temporary, because as soon as the stock market is up and performing as expected, I once again embrace it and hail it with my praise and gratitude.
Is money the root of all evil? Whilst the answer is being pondered, some financial gurus in today’s climate of economic decline and uncertainty tend to become rampant with their knowledge. They are quick to remedy financial catastrophe with the same propensity they invest in charging fees to attend seminars or motivational sessions, where they talk about the safe methods of saving and ways to invest monies. I laugh heartily at the delivery of the financial planners. They come with a twist in language and modern technique to downplay the ideas of the elders from back in the day. Unlike the financial wizards, the elders were on-the-spot advisors. Their sessions didn’t cost a penny. They were free. The elders spoke with determination through voices of experience. Their excellent commonsense, simple solutions, a story with a good moral, and the hardcore maxims which were all in tune with the save for a rainy day plan were not looked at lightly by many.
The elders in their humble fashion saved, traded, and invested. Those who were more specific in their doings would refer to their “Save for a Rainy Day” as old-age pension. In business, they had a no-nonsense approach. Their catchphrase was “wheel and deal” a tool which they exercised to gain rapid success or if failure was in sight. “You can’t lose when you buy a piece of land,” they would tout. “Even if it is barren land, it is better than buying a second hand car.” In the true sense, to them, buying any secondhand vehicle was a bad investment. Deals of such nature were called “sinking fund.” For that reason the elders invested heavily in real estate, buying acres and acres of lands. They cultivated some whereas some remained idle or in their natural status. They also invested in livestock: goats, pigs, donkeys, cows, fowls, horses, and mules to name a few. People looking to increase certain livestock would approach and pay monies to the owners of pedigree animals who then saw to it that their customers’ animals were impregnated or serviced by their pedigrees. A very prosperous business then which probably still exists.
Save for a Rainy Day. Sometimes I take stock of the should-haves and could-haves whenever some of my ideas are hampered by lack of finance. My father’s reaction to my unfortunate situation would have been: I had warned you repeatedly about the implications of not adhering to the Save for a Rainy Day. If that statement wasn’t menacing enough, a good dose of Jamaican dialect would then be in order. Mi did tell yuh. If yuh can hear yuh muss feel. Yuh too blastid stubborn an luv fi have yuh own-way. Unwilling pickney always do-do lickle. As lewd as the latter statement sounds whenever it was been used it would always attract laughter. However, I dared not laugh when it was measured out to me, fearing further grief. By now my experiences and the experiences of others have taught me that Save for a Rainy day is a good endeavor. However, I keep hearing that everyone should live each day as if it were the last. Be merry. Eat, drink, and spend because tomorrow is not promised to any man. The message is a constant reminder in our daily lives yet it is certainly another twist and topic to “Save for a Rainy Day,” as in the case of a recent conversation I had with a lady. Without any qualms, she mentioned to me that she is spending all the money between her and her husband because she is not leaving anything for a second wife to enjoy.
Save for a Rainy Day. Overall, the elders in times gone by weren’t an easy force to reckon with when it came to savings of any sort. They laid down hard core rules and sayings yet I find that there is a prominent concern which engulfs the saying “Save for a Rainy Day,” money being the main focus. Are we going to live like a pauper and die rich? Nowadays it seems like dying rich is a noble status. If this is the case, while not being disrespectful, the only missing honor within this status is the absence of a U-Haul truck tugging behind a coffin with all the material things saved and attained. This sounds a bit morbid but it raises thoughts. Some people will penny-pinch, depriving themselves of the common nutrition that their bodies require. There are also some people who will save their monies and then sponge on others. Are we doing this in honor of the elders to show that it is better to have saved than not save at all? In the long chain of thoughts many have by now concluded that life is a gamble. If this is the case, why not take the chance on Save for a Rainy Day. Who knows when the rain will be at its heaviest?
Tah-tah! Keep the store basket occupied.
Grace Dunkley-Asphall, Copyright © 2011