When it comes to life’s most important lessons our upbringing remains the most valuable learning curve throughout. There are many great things we learn from those we look up to the most, and for a lot of people that is a beloved grandparent – A senior and wise figure that is very much larger than life to us in those precious early years.
I remember my Nana more than I remember large segments of my childhood. The times I spent with her always had me laughing and learning, and of course being duly spoilt with chocolate biscuits and the best homemade apple pie you’d ever taste.
Nana is no longer with us but what stays with me is not only her wit, charm and love for her family, but also one valuable little nugget of a lesson. And that lesson is; never throw away a single penny.
On a recent trip to the bank I was rather heavier than usual, but this time it was the sort of weight you’d want on you. I had £22 in coppers and other coins bagged up in my pockets, and no doubt it made me look like I was being defeated by gravity. In retrospect I should have taken the coins in a rucksack.
On receiving the £20note and a couple of pound coins in exchange I realised that this meant I wouldn’t have to withdraw any money from my account for at least two days. Another way to see it is it would practically pay for a whole week’s groceries. All this brought me back to a memory of how I came to relentlessly keep hold of all my change and store it in jars and tupperware.
My brother, my cousin and I were all with our Nana on one of our many cherished weekends staying with her. There was a park with swings nearby her house and she would be sitting on a bench, smoking her fags and watching us with a big smile on her face whilst we ran around like chaotic kids do. She always let us get a 99p ice cream each from the van that turned up every Saturday. “One each, but don’t tell your mam.” She would say jokingly.
I remember on one of these occasions I did something silly from which I’ve learnt a fundamental but useful rule. Being a little twerp, I started throwing some copper coins I had left over from the ice creams towards a bin that had wasps hovering over it. I was obviously aiming for the wasps but right then my Nana did something I thought she’d never do. She grabbed me firmly by the arm and shouted at me, furious that I would be stupid enough to throw money away.
That very afternoon I was given a punishment. Instead of playing football with my brother and cousin in her garden Nana told me to go up and down the local streets and pick up all the coins I could see until I collected £1. I managed to find a few pennies but nowhere near the whole pound, so I went back to her house and cried in frustration. She hugged me and said “Now you know the value of money”.
So for the last couple of days I’ve been spending very carefully. Not that I have to, but out of curiosity I wanted to see how far this £22 would go. I’m glad to inform that I have £4.57 left and may reward myself tomorrow by withdrawing a bit more. On a few occasions taking pennies to the bank has actually helped me out when I really was scarce, and like with all the people I love dearly and look up to, I have my Nana to thank for such a basic but important life lesson.
Do you have any memories of the important lessons you’ve learnt? Who has taught you these lessons, and who do you look up to the most? It would be great to hear of your story and how these same lessons are passed down to your own children.