My grandparents were first-generation Americans, whose parents settled in North Tonawanda straight from Poland. They also gave great money advice.
Since everyone is Polish on Dyngus Day, here are some Polish money proverbs – though they may not be Polish in origin – to ponder over your pierogi.
“When a girl is born it is like having six thieves invade the house.” OK, as the mom of two girls, staring down a future of proms, dances and weddings, this cracks me up. Adding a child of any gender to your household is going to cost you, but what a worthy investment!
“If one mother can take care of 10 children, 10 children can take care of one mother.” My grandfather was fond of this one and so am I. How could anyone not be? It refers to emotional, physical, social, spiritual and, yes, financial needs.
“Your ‘Thank you’ is fine but it will not help me pay my bills.” Servers have told me the customers most vocal with their gratitude are the most skimpy with their tips. Put your money where your dziekuje is.
“A sparrow in the hand is better than a pigeon on the roof.” Appreciate what you have, and quit longing for those fancy Kardashian pigeons at the neighbor’s.
“A good bargain is a pick-purse.” In English, we have the saying, “If a deal seems to good to be true, it probably is.” I much prefer the Polish version.
“Fate throws fortune, but not everyone catches.” We are surrounded by opportunities. Grants, scholarships, training programs, free workshops, apprenticeships, internships, networking opportunities – not to mention the entire sum of the world’s knowledge at our fingertips and available free online. Most of us really do have the power to change our stars, or at least improve our horoscopes. We just have to seize it.
“Keep learning because knowledge is the key to power.” Whether you’re paying tuition or currently enrolled in the School of Hard Knocks, expertise is worth its weight in gold. Continuing education is especially important to stay ahead of the rapid pace of technology, or at least to keep up with it.
“Where two people fight against each other, the third one wins.” This is where capitalism rocks. Two companies compete, their products and prices get better, and the consumer wins.
“The giver should forget, but the receiver should remember forever.” Never lend more than you’re willing to lose, and be ready to forgive the debt unless you’re willing to lose the friendship of the person you lent the money to.
“Money is there to be spent.” I mean, not all of it, but being a miser with your money is just as bad as being a spendthrift. In fact, the kind of behavior you see on “Extreme Cheapskates” (unplugging everything when you leave the house, showering with your clothes on to save pennies on water) can actually be a sign of mental illness.
If your bills are paid and you’re funding your retirement and your savings, live a little and be generous with others.
“Good health is above wealth.” Especially if you don’t have very good insurance.
“He is rich enough that wants nothing.” It doesn’t matter how much money you have. If your wants aren’t tamed, it will never be enough.
“Fortune favors the bold.” Or as it says on that motivational poster, "You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take."
“No one gets rich quickly if he is honest.” Sometimes true, but the internet and social media have changed the game for many entrepreneurs.
“When I had money everyone called me brother.” This works both ways. Try being a brother to those without money.