New Site!

Please go to the new site, This site is no longer going to be updated or kept current. All posts and information will be on the new site.

Come join us on the new site!

Hey all. Just so you know this will now be the only place for these blog posts.

As we transition Change You Can Afford into a charity, that site will be dedicated to the charity and no longer host the blogging archives.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Year's Resolution!

Hello my lovely readers,

For those of you who celebrate this new years, Happy New Year!! It is customary for me to reflect on our lives and to sometimes make resolutions for the upcoming year. The last few weeks I have been reflecting on things, both privately and in my last few posts, which means it is time for the resolutions.

I have many resolutions for the year. I plan to apply to grad school, become more green and eco-conscious, eat less meat, get a job, get into shape, etc. None of those listed apply to the blog or my charitable life (except maybe becoming more green). Below are my resolutions that are relevant:

Resolution the first!

I am going to get back to the original idea for this blog, which was to donate a dollar a day to a charity to promote charitable giving in others and to raise awareness that every little bit of charity does matter. I wanted to help others around the world on a daily basis. I got a bit overwhelmed, as this is my first blog. I plan to try blogging everyday, instead of on occasion, which I believe will help me to be more consistent. I might even penalize myself for missing days, suggest suitable punishments below.  ;-) I am also going to make the blog a bit more organized and structured, so stay tuned for a blog post letting y'all know about the new structure and ideas.

Resolution the second!

Due to my recent move, I am not currently volunteering. And my activism is limited to online petitions and this blog (plus the occasional argument friendly debate with friends, family, and strangers about the various oppressions in our society - discussion about sexism, racism, and other ism's raise awareness and knowledge about these subjects so I consider them activism).

This is my long-winded way of saying that I want to find some local volunteer opportunities, especially since I am unemployed and have some extra free time - although, probably not as much as you believe. I shall look for something local, so I am driving as little as possible, but also for a cause I am passionate about.

Resolution the third!

This is both the most simple resolution and the hardest. It is to do my best to appreciate all that I and my family and friends have, which was mentioned in my two previous reflective posts A Christmas Reflection and Wealth: A Matter of Relativity. This has been difficult for me to do lately, as I am unable to find work. The combination of finishing college and not working is very rough emotionally. This leads to me not appreciating life as much as I could or perhaps should.

Those are my three resolutions that pertain to my blog and the mission of my blog. If you have any resolutions that you would like to share, whether they relate to charitable givings or your own life, I would love to hear them. Also, if you have any ideas for other resolutions for me, go ahead, and leave your comments below.

I wish all the best for y'all in the upcoming year.

Friday, December 31, 2010

Wealth: A Matter of Relativity

Looking around my house as we decorated and prepared for Christmas, I was constantly realizing how much wealth and comforts we have. I think as a culture we tend to underestimate how much we have and just compare ourselves to the Joneses. Our thinking is that the grass is greener on the other side of the fence so we don't take the time to appreciate what we have. And really appreciate how much we all have and how much we can afford to help others.

I know how lucky i am that I can live with my parents while I search for work, I am a recent college graduate who is struggling to find work in this economy. That is a luxury that many people just don't have, and my parents can afford this without me being a burden on them. My safety net, my family, is something which I know I am extremely lucky to have.

However, we are not rich by American standards. My parents both work, but we are not extremely rich. They own a house, but it is a fixer-upper which we are fixing up ourselves to save money. We can afford a house, but we can't afford to pay for people to do the work for us. Just so you understand where we fit in our society.

But as we know, on a global scale we are extremely, extremely wealthy. According to Global Rich List, I am in the top 12 percent of the world's richest people. And this is with me only working part time retail positions while attending university. I am not working full time and make less than $10 an hour in retail....

How do you feel about that? A bit richer we hope. Richer and ready to give some of your newly found wealth to those who need it most. It not hard - just slip your hand in your pocket and pull out something special. Something that can help redress the balance - and also make you feel uncommonly good. Many peoples lives could be happier if you donated just one hour's salary (approx $9.83 - UK estimate).
All you have to do is make a choice.
$8 could buy you 15 organic apples OR 25 fruit trees for farmers in Honduras to grow and sell fruit at their local market.
$30 could buy you an ER DVD Boxset OR a First Aid kit for a village in Haiti.
$73 could buy you a new mobile phone OR a new mobile health clinic to care for AIDS orphans in Uganda.
$2400 could buy you a second generation High Definition TV OR schooling for an entire generation of school children in an Angolan village."

So I guess its a question of what we want to do without wealth. Do we want to spend it on presents and more stuff for our houses? 

Or do we want to get together and recognize what we do or do we want to use our wealth, and if you are in a developed country you are extremely wealthy on a global scale, to create the change we want to see in the world (Gandhi paraphrased)?

Personally, I think I want to try my best to be the change I want to see in the world...

I would love it if you would join me in this.

A Christmas reflection...

Hello and happy holidays to everyone,

Throughout this holiday season I have been reflecting on wealth and the value of presents. I am currently unemployed, so I used fabric scraps, yarn I already had, and supplies from thrift stores to make presents for people, I also made jelly from my parents fruit tree's to give out. I also purchased Christmas cards from a thrift store; fifty cents for a package of twenty. All in all, I sent out Christmas cards to 15 people and made presents for another 15 or so and spent under twenty dollars. It was very satisfying to figure out presents for everyone that I care about without spending money that I just can't afford to spend.

But the societal pressures of the holiday here in the United States still made me feel as if I needed to go to the store and buy brand new fancy presents for everyone. The commercialization of the various holidays has created a system in which we must go out and shop for our family and friends to prove that we care about them. Consider for instance, jewelry commercial's imply that the only appropriat way to show love for a significant other is through the purchasing of diamond and gold.

My homemade jelly, which I made from fruit trees in my parents backyard, seems to me to be a better and more personal gift than a CD. But as I was giving them out I continually felt a bit inadequate. As if my time was not as a good a present as a present bought with my money would be. Which is ironic because I spent more time making gifts than I would have had to spend earning money to buy Christmas gifts.

And then as we got closer to Christmas, I was surprised - as I am every year - by the sheer number of presents under our tree. By U.S. standards, we are not a rich family. We cannot afford vacations in far off distance lands, we do not have multiple houses, nor could I afford college without taking more loans than I would have liked. So in that regard we are not well off, on the other hand we have multiple boxes of Christmas ornaments to choose from and we can afford a nice tree and presents for our family and friends (excepting my handmade presents).

After Christmas people often ask what you got? They do not ask what you did or who you spent your holiday celebrations with. Because the apparent meaning of Christmas is getting presents, not about spending time with family... I mean, opening presents is wonderful and I truly enjoy it, I think everyone does honestly. But sometimes instead of another necklace, I think it would be nice to know that money did something beyond purchasing me more jewelry that was made in China, or the equivalent, by an underpaid and mistreated worker.

Sometimes, I look at presents and think about the person who made it and what their life must be like. I wonder if they could afford something like that for themselves or their family for their own celebrations. I imagine their closet, which is likely much smaller than my own. I watched a documentary on the Tuva in an anthropology class a few years back and a daughter was visiting her family for a two week holiday, she brought with her a small shopping bag. A shopping bag held all she needed for two weeks. Her luggage was smaller than my bag of Christmas presents.

I just have been thinking of all that I have even while I am an unemployed recent college graduate and am very grateful for all that I have, so I need to remember that on a daily basis.

And I hope my reflections have made you think as well...