When I was a kid, as soon as I received any cash on my birthday I spent it on things that made me look like I had a lot of it. My childhood lacked financial guidance, so this was my idea of good money management. I continued this practice even once I began to earn a paycheck.
I knew what having money looked like because I was familiar (and almost obsessed) with a friend who had a lot of it. What I didn’t know was how he managed it. It took years to admit to myself that I was a fiscally irresponsible young man. Once I did, I mustered up the courage to ask my friend what to do with my money. What he told me was so simple and it stuck with me. “Save something every week, no matter what.” More importantly, it swung momentum towards more responsible financial practices.
There are plenty of ways to get money to people who don’t have it; for example via micro-loans http://www.projectenterprise.org/our-mission/, cell phone depositing mechanisms https://www.givedirectly.org,the welfare system, and all sorts of charity work http://www.independentcharities.org/home/.
These are great ways to bring capital to communities who need it. But for the purposes of this challenge, we must be able to admit that these methods are inappropriate and only serve as band-aids on an open wound. They do not use the power of communities to create systems of financial empowerment. Summoning outside support, for anything, sends a message that the internal system is flawed. Before we begin the idea phase, we ought to remember to identify and look closely at the methods of members who have been (even somewhat) successful internally.
Who has the money?
What can we learn from their experience?
Those who have been successful navigating the barriers and nuances of their specific community’s economic landscape know what is best for their community.
Let’s not forget to include them in our ideas.