>What We Can Learn About Money from the Third World?

>consumerismImage by Stathis Stavrianos (Stathis_1980) via Flickr

Craig Ford wrote an article for Wise Bread, a blog subtitled “Living Large on a Small Budget.”  Craig writes about personal finance for Money Help for Christians and Help Me Travel Cheap.  The article that caught my attention is “5 Money Lessons From the Third World” which was gleaned from the time since his family has moved to Papua New Guinea.  He claims that the time there has been ripe with money lessons learned from those who have a whole lot less than he did. 

Here he came from an environment where we amuse ourselves with gadgets galore and can’t leave the house without iPods in ears and recreational equipment in the car to an environment where things from nature and the very simple things around homes become toys and entertainment.

Here he came from an environment that has throw-away appliances and clothes and…well…everything to one where they fix things.  He recounts the joy of being creative with a headlight repair in the US when he wasn’t able to buy one in town and his creativity saved him some bucks.

Here are his 5 lessons learned from the Third World:

1)  TRY TO FIX IT BEFORE YOU BUY A NEW ONE — You might be surprised what you can fix if you put a little time an elbow grease into it.

2)  BE CREATIVE AND USE WHAT YOU HAVE — People in the Third World are resourceful and get multiple uses from the things they have.  They don’t just throw it away.

3)  FOCUS ON FUNCTIONALITY — We’re too concerned with what looks good.   (I think this is a lesson I’ve learned from my father.  But I’ve also learned I have limitations on how bad I want things to look…even if they are still functional).

4)  FUN IS NOT A BYPRODUCT OF MONEY — You can have a lot of fun for cheap and for free.  What are they where you are?

5)  DON’T BUY IT IF YOU DON’T HAVE THE CASH — Third World folks don’t have credit.  It’s not an option for most of them.  What might it look like if you moved to a cash-based system in your household?

So…as a Christian…what can I learn here?  There’s really not much more in Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University or a basic budgeting course.  But our culture is such that we have difficulty with these.  But, perhaps if we paid attention to the living habits of our Third World brothers and sisters we’d learn a thing or two…or five.

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