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Getting out of debt and world hunger…

The news on world food supply hasn’t been good. Droughts, oil issues, etc are creating greater food insecurity for millions. Americans are feeling a small pinch (or even a medium one) though fewer of us have to worry about starving to death in the near future.

Sometimes it seems narcissistic to focus only on our own problems and our own finances. It can be if we choose to make it that way.

At the same time, our finances are one thing we can really control in all this chaos. To expand that, all our actions are the only things we can control. Everything else we might have a say in through our votes or our consumer power but we don’t have full control or full responsibility.

Being frugal, getting out of debt, even investing are all positive actions. Being frugal frees up money to give, invest, or use to get out of debt. Once we get out of debt, we have more money available to help others, whether you believe that’s best achieved by giving to a charity or funding microloans. Investing builds financial reserves so that we can give to others and so we can keep ourselves out of debt in the future. In theory, investing also support companies and therefore jobs and products.

I think the frugal among us are likely to also work on not wasting either. Maybe we don’t consume as much as the average Westerner. Or maybe we don’t throw as much away. Or both. That’s a positive step, even if a small one.

Micah says the power of the environmental message (or that of much of the left) is that any one person can make a difference. He often feels hopeless about it, but the power of small things makes me feel hopeful. Maybe I can’t make a big difference, maybe I can, but I can at least make a small one. There are some things in this world that I can have some control over…I’ll start there.

Could this be turning into a post on snowflaking a better world? I could live with that.

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Aryn April 28, 2008 at 4:39 pm

I totally agree. The media panic about the “food shortage” is now causing consumers to stockpile food that will only end up going to waste, making the situation worse for countries where there really is a serious food shortage.

Hopefully the rise in food prices here in the U.S. will force Americans to learn to be less wasteful and more prudent.

Megan April 28, 2008 at 5:22 pm

I was reading an article about women and children in Darfur the other day and I started to feel guilty about my own mini-obsession with my own personal finances. I’m worrying about pretty ridiculous things, comparatively speaking. Of course, one thing I can do is use my frugal habits to save money and then donate that money to organizations that help those in need. But that just seems like such a small gesture.

Pinyo April 28, 2008 at 5:26 pm

I think it’s the beginning of a bad global situation. For example, in Thailand the price of rice tripled. It’s ironic that people who will suffer the most are rice farmers. Typically, they are very poor and sell their rice to the middle man at steeeeeep discount. They usually don’t save enough rice for consumption because they need the money. And finally ended up borrowing money to buy rice at the market price.

Like I said, ironic.

The Family CEO April 28, 2008 at 5:30 pm

Great post. I heard someone say the other day that in America we don’t have to worry about a shortage of food…just a shortage of cheap food. But that’s not true of many places in the world.

Mrs Micah's Mom April 28, 2008 at 9:00 pm

Among other causes of the food crisis is the planting of corn for ethanol rather than of wheat for food. Although corn and wheat have large areas of overlap, I don’t think rice and corn grow in the same climate/soil. So, I’m not sure whether using corn for ethanol is one of the causes of the rice problem.

As far as the world is concerned, I think you’re right; every bit helps.

CindyS April 28, 2008 at 10:44 pm

You are right about the power of small things and if you think about how much difference they make in your budget. Think about how much difference thousands of people changing over to cfl bulbs will make . It doesn’t seem like much but it adds up.

Becky@FamilyandFinances April 28, 2008 at 10:50 pm

I love the idea of “snowflaking a better world”. Very cool!

Shanti @ Antishay April 29, 2008 at 4:57 am

Snowflaking a better world! That’s the best idea I’ve heard all year. We need to expand on this…

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