My Peace on Money
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March 2013 Edition
Volume 10 Issue #3 



This week I was helping my husband with something and I told him the only reason I knew how to do this was because Nanie taught me. "Nanie Sheehan?" He asked. I smiled, "Nanie. Yes." Nanie Sheehan was the only grandmother I have ever known. In the late 1920's, she came over from Ireland to work as a maid. By the time she married and had a child, my mother, she had saved and was able to put a down payment on a home.


As a widow from the time of my memories, she lived alone three blocks from us and always delighted in our company. She was present through our successes and failures from childhood to college graduations and beyond.  


She has been dead just over eleven years- and the previous five years before her death were spent in her own slowly dwindling world in a nursing home. Yet, the longer time goes by the more I realize the lifelong impact on me she had as my third parent. She was the one who had the time to listen to me. Taught me every domestic lesson from cleaning to gardening to baking Irish Bread.


This is Irish National Heritage month and March 21st would be her birthday. So in honor of Nanie and all the sound financial teachings of the Irish, I share with you an Irish Peace on Money.


Happy Saint Patrick's Day!


Irish Financial Wisdom

Cash in a box is good


Nanie had a tin box - hidden in the back of her non-walk-in closet.  There was always cash there.  So if you were taking her out spontaneously and her wallet was bare, she would just have to go upstairs "for a moment."  Of course, once or twice she shared with me the location and the purpose of the box.  Having cash handy was of major importance for all sorts of reasons.  The grey tin box was better than the bank for someone who had lived through the Depression.

Food is important


Basic healthy food.  Nothing fancy.  Nothing expensive.  The goodness was in the way you cooked it and how it was prepared. With Nanie it was always with loving care.  And the slow simmering of what was a poor cut or end of meat transformed into a melt in your mouth delicacy by dinner time.  And leftovers were her specialty.  Only at her home did I relish in having leftovers as she turned her hand to create a special meal through the magic of her fry pan.

The little things in life


Trays. I learned the enhancement of trays. She would serve you with a tray. Prepared with love in the pantry and brought out on a tray - one for her and one for you. 

Naps. A "stretch across the bed" in the afternoon otherwise known as a nap, keeps one fresh for whatever is ahead.


Simple things. None of which cost much but were recognized small treats to fill the mundane everyday. 


Payoff your house


Land is important to the Irish. There was never any talk of paying a mortgage at her home. Nanie Sheehan did not have much money. She survived mainly on Social Security. Yet, somehow had prioritized and lived low to gain the comfort of the title to her home. Though the financial crisis of 2008 made many more folks true believers of truly owning their home, I grew up that way. 


Appreciate what you have and share it


Not only did she share what she had as far as her home and welcoming spirit. Her guests whether for tea, dinner, or overnight were bathed in love and appreciation, along with being well fed. She had told me numerous stories of other Irish Immigrants just showing up for Sunday dinner unannounced because they were hungry and knew she would be cooking. They were never turned away.


Her grandchildren knew they were important to her. Showered with gifts? Never. Showered with time and special meals? Always. Without much money, she made her seventeen grandchildren feel abundant - each receiving a special homemade birthday cake on their important day. 

Reduce. Reuse. Recycle.


She never had to think about those things. This was the way she lived her life. As a farmer's daughter or mother during the depression, she never let anything go to waste. Not food or threads or packaging. There was not an air of poverty about her. Rather an air of practicality. Leftovers were rewarmed and eaten. Scraps went to the neighbors dogs. "Composting" was not in her vocabulary but she knew egg shells were good for her garden and veggie scraps added minerals to the soil. The styrofoam containers were used as special trays for serving, or prep bowls or the occasional plate.


Her built in cabinet next to the stove had a trove of treasure scraps. Threads, string or just the right nail could be found because she had kept it for a bit knowing it would be of use someday. And she knew it was there in the sewing basket or cookie tin or wooden box that held such fixes. She never ceased to amaze me by her knowing what was where in her house.


I never heard her complain of being poor. She had no driver's license - except the "back seat" one her son wrote for her. So she had no need of a car. She rode the bus, walked and mostly got rides to family functions.


She travelled rarely - and if she did it was either to visit her daughter or with one of her children. I know of four times she returned to Ireland over the seventy years she was here - scant visits to her home of origin.


I never heard out of her mouth - "I do not have the money." She was content right where she was, she was wise - and knew more than anyone of her children or grandchildren could ever give her credit for. She was fun and real. A model in life for me.


Her secret? I am unsure. But somewhere along the line she practiced Keep It Simple, Be Content, and Keep the Faith. These tips work in life and with money, whether they be Irish pounds, the Euro or the American dollar. 


C.D. Moriarty is a financial speaker, writer and coach. She is dedicated to empowering others around their money so they can achieve their dreams. She is living her dreams by residing in the Green Mountains and helping others through her work. She can be reached through her website at
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