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Five Financial Lessons From Independence Day in Barbados

Odd Cents - Banking and Finance

It’s Independence Day in Barbados and I’m celebrating with conkies and golden apple juice. The island gained its independence from the United Kingdom on November 30 back in 1966. This was a bold move that came with a lot of responsibility. It meant that the country would be responsible for its own affairs. There would be no one to ask permission to make decisions; or no one to ask for money to undertake projects and initiative.

The late Errol Walton Barrow, lovingly called the Father of Independence, was confident that Barbados was ready to make this step. He served in the UK’s Royal Air Force as a wireless operator and pilot; and studied at the London School of Economics and the Inns of Court. In 1951, he was elected to the Barbados Parliament; he formed the Democratic Labour Party in 1955; and then in 1961, he won the general election and became Premier. In 1966, after successfully leading the country to independence, he became the island’s first Prime Minister.

This foray into independence also meant that the island would have its own symbols. The national emblems of Barbados are symbols of the island’s independence. They include the national flag; a coat of arms; a motto; national colours (ultramarine, gold and black); a national dish (flying fish and cou-cou); national flower (Pride of Barbados); a national bird (the pelican); national heroes who have contributed to the island’s development; and the national anthem.

Independence Day in Barbados

Independence Day in Barbados is the day to celebrate all that the island has to offer. One of my favourite traditions is to watch the Independence Day parade, where the armed and unarmed forces march from the Garrison Savannah to Bridgetown. Barbadians turn out in their numbers in gold, ultramarine and black attire to support the parade and show their patriotism. After than it’s a celebration of food; people; attractions; festivities and traditions that we hold close to our hearts.

In addition to all of these amazing experiences, November 30, is a day to be inspired by the founding fathers of our island. We have excellent examples of tenacious effort, unwavering principles and substantive ideologies that have shaped our island. There are many lessons to be learned from this historic day, that we can implement in our lives today. And, to be very specific, they can be implemented in our financial lives. These are the strong principles that will keep you on the path to financial success.

1. Create a Solid Plan

One of the first things that stands out for me about Independence Day is the amount of planning that went into it. I’m sure that Mr. Barrow and his team did not wake up on November 29, 1966 and make the decision that Barbados would become independent the next day. There were many steps that had to be taken, to make this goal a reality. Can you imagine the work it took to get a project team together to create a plan that would lead Barbados to independence?

This is a lesson that we can apply to our own financial lives. If you have a goal in mind, you need to have a solid plan that will help you to reach it. For example, if your goal is to save an extra $250 a month, it means that you have to outline how you will achieve this. You will either cut back on your spending each month or find a way to earn extra money.

2. Be Bold With Your Goals

Another financial lesson that can be learnt from Barbados’ independence, is the fact that it was a bold goal set and achieved by Mr. Barrow. Making a decision to jump into the world on your own, takes courage and tenacity. Not only was Mr. Barrow confident in his decision, he was confident in Barbados’ ability to survive. Barbados was already managing its affairs, so independence was the next logical step.

When you set bold financial goals for yourself, you should be confident in your abilities to achieve them. In fact, the first person who needs to be convinced that the goal is possible, is you. For example, if you realise that you can save $250 quite easily, make your next goal $350 or even $500. The only person who should have the authority to step in and assess whether or not something is achievable, is you. Don’t give anyone else the power to decide what you can or cannot achieve.

3. Work Hard and Don’t Give Up, Perseverance is Key

Barbados’ independence was declared in November 1966, but the road to get there started on the 21 January 1920, when the Right Honourable Errol Walton Barrow was born. His life began as the son of two hardworking parents. They were political and civic activists who fought racial bias in many aspects of their lives and were somehow able to overcome them. Their children received this same strength and benefitted from their parents’ resilience, which led them to accomplish great things in Barbados. Mr. Barrow’s journey from St. Lucy in Barbados, to the UK, to Canada, and back to Barbados all paved the way for what was yet to come.

The lesson here is that the decisions you make today, will impact your future tomorrow. On its own, a $100 saved each month might not look like much. But after one year it’s $1,200. After five years, it’s $6,000. After ten years, it’s $12,000. Keep working hard and never be swayed to believe that you are not doing enough. One day, it will all come together, and it will make perfect sense.

4. Don’t Be Afraid to Take Risks

If you don’t take risks, you will never know what you can achieve. This lesson can be learned from the fact that Barbados joined a very short list of Caribbean countries who sought and received independence from the United Kingdom. Three countries, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, and Guyana were the only Caribbean countries who were independent. These were the only case studies that Barbados could use to assess life after independence. Barbados was taking a risk with independence, but maybe things were in place just in case it did not work out. Thankfully, it was a success.

It’s always scary to venture into the unknown. It’s the thought of not knowing what could happen. But with your finances, risk taking is necessary, but you have to take steps to mitigate. For example, if you want to start your own business, build up your emergency fund and save as much cash as possible. If you want to make a career change, learn as much as you can about you new field and get qualified.

5. Celebrate Your Wins

From what I have read, the countdown to independence was a rainy one, but it was worth it. On Tuesday, 29 November 1966, thousands of Barbadians headed to the Garrison Savannah for the ceremony. As the Union Jack was lowered for the last time, and the Broken Trident took its place, the lights went off. When they came on again, at the stroke of midnight on the 30 November 1966, the ultramarine, gold and black fluttered proudly. Independence was a big win for Barbados and my people celebrated.

When you reach milestones in your financial life, you have to celebrate them. Celebrate all of them, because you worked hard to achieve them. If you paid off your credit card, celebrate it! If you saved up enough cash to buy that television, celebrate it! And if you started a side hustle and made your first dollar, you better celebrate it!

On this Independence Day, take a step towards your financial freedom. The late Errol Walton Barrow once said , “Why should only one man have a mirror image of you that you do not want to have of yourself? What kind of society are we striving for? There is no point in striving for Utopia, but you do not realise your potential.”

Happy Independence Day Barbados!