Friday, January 09, 2009

Fair Household Budgets? Ideas please.

Go figure: I'm about to learn how to play an on-line 3D game. Frankly, "second life" and avatars and all that virtual world activity kind of creeps me out. But a teen services organization called Do Something has a game called "Karma Tycoon" that I want to play. Let me explain.

Like many of us in the Fair Trade movement, I often wonder how to apply the principles of Fair Trade to poverty in the United States. In a previous posting I came out in support of domestic Fair Trade initiatives and their links with farm worker justice in particular. But I've still felt like I didn't have much to say about the problems of the urban poor, who I encounter regularly in my Washington, DC neighborhood and because I work in Baltimore, MD.

Now, with unemployment rates in the US rising, I am even more concerned and curious about what Fair Trade offers in terms of solutions to poverty: rural, urban, suburban. In Chapter 10 of my book, I cast conscious consumption as an approach to managing one's resources in sustainable ways that helps others. But a presumption was that readers were using tools such as a household budget. Also I presumed that people had jobs--probably middle class ones, I admit.

What does Fair Trade offer to our citizens now, as they lose their jobs or get swamped with credit card debt and potential foreclosures that represent a lack of understanding about finances? Can the rationales and principles of Fair Trade and conscious consumption help us get out of the mess we are in? Can it help us steer a new path of financial responsibility?

My thinking is that we as Americans not only need to re-evaluate our spending in terms of our impact on people and the planet,we need to improve our skills at money management. Beyond the usual resources in the simplicity movement, though, I don't know who does work in this area. I reached out to a friend of mine provides credit counseling for a local government agency, and she pointed me in the direction of the "Karma Tycoon" game. I'm also going to check out mainstream resources such the new free financial planning action plan from Suze Orman's (yes, Suze).

I'm trying to figure out who is already helping our society manage money wisely so I can identify potential partners, build on existing wisdom and experience, not re-invent the wheel etc. If you have suggestions, please post them here to help my research and create connections. My ideas for bringing fairness into efforts to address current economic woes need a lot of shaping and influence.

4 comments:

  1. AmericaSaves is a project with state chapters, the Web site is here: http://www.americasaves.org/

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  2. Thanks a lot Lara! I will check this resource out.

    Jackie

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  3. Thanks for sharing such great post, according to me budgeting doesn't mean that you have to compromise your needs but it is important for planning financial life. Household Budgeting means to create a planning for the money spending. Build emergency fund, minimize the use of credit card, planning, etc. are the tips for making personal household budgeting.

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  4. Thanks for these reminders/perspectives!
    Jackie

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