Find Your Pot of Gold at the End of the Rainbow: Money Lessons from Irish Proverbs

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Across the country today, people are celebrating by wearing green and eating corned beef and cabbage. I thought I’d extend the Irish celebration to the content of So we’re going to learn a few lessons about keeping some green in our wallets, taken from old Irish proverbs. There’s a lot of wisdom to be found in these proverbs. Golden nuggets of wisdom, if you will. Ok, ok. Time to put the play on words aside and get to the good stuff. On to the first proverb.

A wet and windy May fills the barn with corn and hay.

Sometimes we go through periods in life that are not fun. Grueling college courses. Dealing with a difficult boss. Working two jobs to make ends meet.

Persevering through the hard times, though, pays dividends in the end. College leads to a degree, which makes you eligible for a better job. The difficult boss teaches you how to diplomatically deal with an unreasonable person. In turn, this makes you better able to handle being the boss yourself someday. And working two jobs to make ends meet is hard, but if it keeps you from going into debt, it gives you some measure of security.

Perseverance is important. And sometimes our greatest challenges lead to our greatest triumphs. If you can weather the storm, you will reap the harvest.

Do not take the thatch from your own roof to buy slates for another man’s house.

Helping others is a good thing. I believe that Americans as a whole could stand to give a little more to fellow citizens in need. But let’s be wise about it.

If a friend or family member comes to you and asks you to co-sign a loan for a house or a car, don’t do it. The only exception would be if you can afford to take over the loan and are completely prepared and willing to do so. But if you can’t, don’t risk it.

If your family member doesn’t pay back the loan, you’ll be stuck with it. At best, this will strain your relationship. At worst, it’s your credit and good name that will be ruined.

If someone asks you for a loan or asks you to co-sign for one, your best course of action is either to decline, offer a useful alternative that you can afford (buy them a bus pass, perhaps?), or give them cash. And if you give cash, give it with the expectation that you’ll never see it again.

Enough and no waste is as good as a feast.

Wealth is all about perspective. There are those who aspire to become millionaires and won’t stop working until they achieve that goal. That’s OK. But just having enough to live on is something to be thankful for, too.

Compared to the rest of the world, even the poorest in the United States have it pretty good. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t strive to improve our situations, but we also need to be grateful for what we have. It may not seem like much, but in the United States, we don’t know what true poverty looks like.

If you have a roof over your head, clothes on your back, and food to eat, you have a lot to be thankful for. Many in this world do not even have that, and would jump at the chance to have even one or two of those things.

There’s no need to fear the wind if your haystacks are tied down.

With regard to the weather, one thing is certain. The wind will come. It may not come often. You may not be able to predict it. But the wind will come.

In life, one thing is certain. Unexpected expenses will come. They may not come often, and you may not be able to predict them, but nobody skates through life without unexpected expenses. Prepare for them.

An emergency fund. Life insurance. A will. All of these things are important. If you don’t have any of these, start slowly, but do start, even if you can only save $5 a week. In time, that $5 will add up, and you will have a baby emergency fund. Remember, emergencies will happen. Prepare for them.

You’ll never plough a field by turning it over in your mind.

It’s not enough to think. Action is what matters. Work doesn’t get done without action. Great ideas don’t come to fruition without action. New products are not invented without action.

If you have a great idea for a business venture, a blog, or a long term financial plan, certainly think it through. Obtain sound advice. Plan out the steps you need to take. But then take action. Do what you need to do to reach your goal. If you never take action, you’ll never achieve your goals.

A fool’s money is not long in his pocket.

It’s such a simple concept, but it’s a concept many have a hard time practicing. Don’t spend everything you earn. A prudent person makes a plan for his money before spending it. He doesn’t work for his money. He makes sure his money works for him.

Making a zero based budget, saving for a rainy day, and practicing frugality are all easy ways to make sure your money works for you. If you spend everything you make on a whim, you’ll have nothing left for emergencies. You’ll be at the mercy of others to take care of you, and those others may not have your best interests in mind. That’s not a place most of us want to be.

If you want to read even more Irish proverbs (without the financial commentary), check out Irish Culture and Customs.

Photo by tao_zhyn.


By , on Mar 17, 2010
Lynnae McCoy I'm Lynnae, wife of one and stay-at-home mom of two. I'm committed to getting out of debt by being frugal with my choices in life.


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  1. jengod:

    Awesome post. Well done.

  2. Ha, these are great Lynnae. I think my favorite is “You’ll never plough a field by turning it over in your mind” I meet so many people have all these great ideas, and plans, and they just talk, talk, talk about them. Action matters!

  3. wow, what great sayings and insight. Thanks! They all make perfect sense.

  4. Enjoyed the sayings. The Irish know what hard times are all about.

  5. Simple in France:

    Very clever. Celebrating St. Patty’s day in France can be a bit depressing. Apparently no one here cares about Irish heritage ;)

    Thanks for these great proverbs. I love the one about turning over the fields in one’s mind.

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