I’m afraid there won’t be any financial mishaps to report on today, as I’m away and busy for most of the weekend without much use of my wallet! Probably a good thing. Anyway, I have been thinking a bit about savings lately so I thought I’d share an idea I had.
In our western capitalist culture, we happily make money out of money – we call this ‘interest’. A lot of cultures have rules against this philosophy – Islam, Judaism and by extension Christianity being three examples.
In a populist nutshell, the philosophy of ‘no interest’ is rooted in the idea that money should aways pay for something – that way, prices stay relative to commodities and don’t vary according to greed, desire or exploitation. At least that’s the vague idea, anyway.
I think I probably agree with this model – it makes sense to me that we shoudln’t continue trying to make money out of money, as it’s where a lot of our financial mess of recent years seems to have come from.
I have savings – because I can afford to and because I think it is sensible. There are various things I might need to buy in the future – a car, an engagement ring, and perhaps even one day a property.
Those savings gain interest as they are kept in a bank account. I bank with the Co-Operative bank, who are fairly good with their ethics – but I still don’t like the fact that I earn interest. So I have chosen to give my interest away as well.
That doesn’t amount to much for me. Maybe a couple of pounds a year at most. But there’s more that we can do.
Kiva (www.kiva.org) offer micro finance loans to people in need in developing countries. Micro finance is “financial services to low-income individuals or to those who do not have access to typical banking services.” Kiva allows you to loan $25 upwards to start ups or needy businesses.
That’s a loan, not a donation.
I firmly believe in ‘trade not aid’. It’s good to give money to those in need but it’s better to give them the ability to generate their own income. As one of my favourite authors writes:
“We give people fish, we teach them to fish, we tear down the walls built up around the fish pond – and we find out who polluted it” – (Shane Claiborne).
So here is my proposal. Instead of having your money sit around in a bank that is most likely to spend it on arms trading or oil, give it to people in need – don’t worry about the interest or loss of money from inflation – treat that as a donation. Maybe start at just $25 a month, if you save more than that. You’re going to get it back eventually.
Go on, head on over to Kiva now and make a difference to someone’s life.