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Milo Can Money management


By Sharma Taylor


10/03/2021     11 min read time

Milo Can Money Management
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She made the best sweetbread and mauby in your community. Chances are your grandma probably did something else well too, saving. Grandmothers are well known for their ability to “mek a dollar stretch”. 

3 Milo Can Tips

An infamous Bajan hiding hole has always been the empty Milo can. A simple act of resourcefulness that saw our grannies saving money for their sou-sou or meeting turns, bus fare, the purchase of school books, fixing pairs of shoes or buying flying fish when grocery money was short. 

Due to not having the necessary paperwork to open accounts and having a general distrust of the banking sector, many lower-income households were not a part of the formal banking system. Such wages, often paid in cash, from sewing, a small farming and vending, baking and other domestic work, were stashed in the humble milo can as a means to store emergency funds or long-term savings.

Bajans Connect Money management

1. Save, no matter how little

Every spare coin gran had went into the Milo tin.

Decide what percentage of your salary you will save monthly or weekly. You can also set a fun daily challenge to save money every day. For example, cut the amount you spend on lunch, the morning newspaper or afternoon coffee and reduce money spent on hobbies. Put the excess cash in a savings box or old Milo tin. 

Grow your savings by taking deliberate action. Exchange the expensive cable package to something basic or subscribe to a “pay-per-channel” model. Travelling to the same destination as a friend or co-worker? Carpool to save on gas. Bartering can be an excellent way to obtain the things you need without having to spend cash. Services such as grocery pickup or babysitting could be viable options to trade.

Spare change adds up. Money found in the couch, car or your pockets can be placed into the savings container. To discourage spending, swap your change for larger bills once you have saved a few hundred dollars. 

Is it really an emergency?

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2. Emergencies Only

Grandmothers taught us to prepare for a rainy day. Resist the urge to dip into the savings tin (or savings account) for luxury items or wants. Clearly define what you consider to be an emergency. Don’t “borrow” from these savings unless it is a genuine emergency such as a health challenge. If you do otherwise, you’re robbing yourself.


3. Make a new tradition: invest

Unlike the secret ingredient in Gran’s cou-cou recipe, your money wasn’t meant to  stay hidden forever. Your funds have to come out of the Milo tin. 

Realise inflation’s impact on saving. A dollar five years ago was worth more than a dollar today. If all you did was keep the dollar in the Milo tin, the real buying power of that dollar is less now due to inflation. This is where interest comes in. Bank account interest on savings accounts is practically non-existent, so grow your money by investing in stocks, bonds, unit funds or other investment instruments. Investment offsets inflation and compound interest is your best ally.

Talk to an advisor to find out which is right for you based on your circumstances. Open a time deposit that you can’t break before maturity as the interest rate there is better than savings account interest.

There is a lot we can learn from our grandparents to mind our dollars and cents in tight times. The habit of regular and intentional saving is critical to our financial health.

So next time, don’t be quick to dismiss the money management lessons from the Milo can; it could be the key to your future.

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