Jamaican-Style Money Guide: Parson Christen ’Im Pickney Fus

At the beginning of a year, many people declare that they want to make some changes in their lives, in order to produce better results than they experienced in the previous year. Very often, their willingness to improve diminishes after a few weeks or months, leading to unfulfilled resolutions.

Some people fail to realise their objectives because they don’t establish a strong motivation that will force them to persevere until their goal is met. If you have a compelling vision for your future or a credo that directs all your actions, then you are more likely to succeed.

In this tough economy, more people are complaining that they are surviving from pay cheque to pay cheque. They feel like they are only working to pay their bills; all of their income is consumed by the rising cost of living and there is nothing left behind for saving or investing.

Although inflation keeps moving prices upwards while income remains stagnant, if you are going to achieve your money objectives this year, you have to find a way to overcome this challenge. What will you use to inspire you to grow in spite of these negative economic forces?


Our Jamaican proverbs often bring the right messages to cement important life lessons. The adage “Parson christen ‘im pickney fus” refers to the reality that a parson will christen his child first, or that he will take care of his own personal business before attending to the needs of others.

When applied to your financial situation, this proverb can also express the essential money management principle of ‘pay yourself first’. The idea is that some of your income should be put aside for the purpose of saving, even before you take care of your bills and other obligations.

Some people feel that they are being financially responsible by ensuring that all the expenses are paid first, and whatever is left behind can go towards savings. For others, this money principle may seem to be impractical, as their income is not even enough to cover their basic necessities.


Years ago when I was searching to find solutions to my various money problems, I remember being frustrated by the fact that despite working for over 10 years, I had no savings for myself. It seemed like I had wasted all my time, as I had nothing tangible to show for my work efforts.

After reading The Richest Man in Babylon by George S. Clason, I finally understood why it was imperative to apply the ‘pay yourself first’ rule. Clason explained that if I spent all I earned, I was actually making other people rich, while I remained poor. This sounded like slavery to me!

Although my income was not covering my overburdened budget or meeting my debt requirements, I resolved that first of all, I was going to put aside some of what I earned, and ensure that I found a way to deal with my obligations. Saving was now going to be a non-negotiable expense.


Making the decision to put 10 per cent of my salary into a savings account that could not be used for expenses was intimidating at first. How was I going to pay my bills? Was I just digging myself further into debt? I wondered if I was making another costly money mistake.

However, I decided that if Clason, a financial expert, said that it was important, I would trust the savings process. I examined my budget and tried to reduce or eliminate some bills. I calculated my shortfall and determined that I had to find a way to make more so that I could continue to save.

Once I pledged to focus on saving, I experienced remarkable changes in my finances. As I got more organised with my money, I found that many of the issues that caused me to overspend were resolved. Every month, I looked forward to saving and enjoyed seeing the balance grow.


It is possible to reorganise the way you spend your income to ensure that you pay yourself first, once your earnings are reasonably stable. If you have finished paying off a loan, then you can also redirect the monthly payments into your savings account, instead of spending the money.

However, can you still save if your income is woefully insufficient, or if you have no earnings at all? The key to saving is to build up a store of money just for you. It is the focus on accumulation that will help to improve your financial situation, not so much the actual sum that you can save.

If you only have the change received from the supermarket or coins found on the ground, then start saving with that. Resolve to find a way to add to your savings every day, and celebrate as your mini nest egg grows. If you pay yourself first by saving, it will pay off in the long run!

You can get more detailed advice on ways to improve your finances in my new eBook, The 3 M’s of Money: How To Manage, Multiply and Maintain Your Money.

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Copyright © 2016 Cherryl Hanson Simpson. No reproduction without written consent.
Originally published in The Daily Observer, January 21, 2016.

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Cherryl is a money coach and business mentor, and founder of Financially S.M.A.R.T. Services. See more of her work at www.entrepreneursinjamaica.com and www.financiallysmart.org. Contact Cherryl