Butter Pans and Pancakes Made From Potatoes

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For my blog post I decided to interview my Nan. I think that there is a lot to be said for these kind inter-generational conversations about money and finance, and I would encourage others to consider doing the same. Whether it is your own grandparent, or someone more mature in your community, church or faith group – it is a great way of getting a different perspective and there are often surprises in the information shared.

My Nan, Pauline, was born in 1926 on the beautiful Caribbean island of St Kitts. She was one of ten children and emigrated to England in 1957. She also has ten children, numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren and is a founding member of the Wesleyan Holiness Church in this country.

I started out by asking her when she first remembers learning about finances?

I remember being aged about 8/9 years old and working (sweeping a neighbour’s yard, feeding the fowls, etc.) for the first time, often doing odd jobs before I went off to school. My mother always taught me from that age if you work for 10 shillings, save one of the shillings in a butter pan, cover it and bury it. Every time you work, if you do that, when you need to go to the butter pan, you will see that you have saved some money. My mother wanted to teach us to learn about finance in the early years, so that saving would become a habit in later life.

Is there a saying that has been significant to you about money and saving?

‘Don’t eat everything in one day’ (ie, never use all of the ten shillings in one go), save some for another day. Mom also taught me that if I make a dress and I don’t have enough material I could make the dress sleeveless or without collars, i.e., make the best use of what you have!

Is there a scripture that captures how you feel that we should be as Christians with regards to our money?

The first scripture that comes to mind is Luke 6:38a (KJV), ‘Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over…’

Are there any tips that you would give to younger people about finance?

I would say,

  1. Learn to save from a young age – save something for a rainy day
  2. Try to avoid debt
  3. Give God His portion and learn to be honest with God

What is the hardest lesson that you have learned about finance?

I think that Shakespeare wrote, ‘Neither a borrower or a lender be.’ And I have found some truth in that – I have lent to people over the years and often not been repaid. I don’t mind giving money to help people, but if I lend something my expectation is that I should get it back.

Is there anything else that you would like to say?

When my children were growing up some would say that they didn’t like potatoes when I cooked soup. So, I used to take the potatoes out of their soup and save them for another day to make pancakes. All of the children would eat the pancakes without complaint – that was also something else that I learned from my mother.

Revd Cassius Francis is the Just Finance Development Worker for the Black Country and a minister with the Wesleyan Holiness Church. He is married to Vanessa and together they established a charitable project in Haiti following the devastating earthquake in 2010.