Sunday, August 31, 2008

Good With Money

One of the books I read while I was away this summer was Banker to the Poor. It's a great adventure story of how this one guy noticed something he thought would make a difference - lending small amounts of money to people without collateral; and the challenges he faced - community resistance, families' lack of support, big banks not wanting to be involved; and how he overcame all of this to help an under-served group of people create sustainable businesses. It was really inspiring and if you're looking for a good read, I'd recommend it.

The book makes a couple of points that really stood out in my mind and one is, if you want to help a community, give money to poor women. This is of course a generalization, however, what this guy found out was that if he lent the money to women, they took care of their family's health, living situation, education, etc., and when he lent money to men that didn't necessarily happen.

The other point that stood out for me was that the bank they formed doesn't give money to individuals who aren't enrolled in a program with them - the program is a group of 5 people who all have loans and they work together to review their business plans and help each other through tough times caused by natural disasters or family tragedies. The program has been really effective obviously, as he won the Nobel Peace Prize. When the person is involved in a group of like-minded people, the loans work.

Anyways, it got me to thinking about a lot of things including why doing yoga in a group is good and how group support for many things is useful, weight loss, weight gain, any goal we've set for ourselves really. And it also got me to thinking about my next door neighbour and how great she is with money and how she can go so far on so little. I was telling her last night that I bought a new car and she got right to the numbers. "Returning a leased car costs at least $1000." "Operating a car costs $500 a month." "Vrtucar is expensive - you need to deposit $300." "Did you renew your mortgage yet? I got 5.10%" And for her, having a car isn't a good use of money. She has a shop in the Market so she walks to work. One of her kids is on the same bus as mine and her other one goes to the daycare up the road, so it's all walkable. And what's not, she'll rent a car for. Very smart. (First day of school I'm taking her with me in my car though!) Her family is from China and this year her father passed away so she already went once, and according to her culture, his ashes need to be buried on a certain date and that turns out to be late November, so she's going again in the fall.

I think she's good with money. I think I'm good with money, too.

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