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8 Simple Ways to Save Money & Help Stop Poverty

8 Simple Ways to Save Money & Help Stop Poverty

    According to GlobalRichList.com, I’m in the top 0.82% richest people in the world.

    That’s not to brag, though. Almost everyone with the means to read this post is in that top one percent somewhere.

    But there are billions more people out there who are not in the top one percent, and they’re not in the top two or three either. The majority of our planet is living in poverty.

    Economic crises (and the accompanied fear mongering) aside, we sometimes look at the world as a prosperous place with a few unfortunate pockets of poverty strewn about. It’s so easy to forget that the majority of the world lives in poverty, or pretty damn close to it. Easier for us, at least.

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    The UN definition of poverty is living on less than a dollar a day; I’d suggest that’s a number chosen to keep the sheer statistical size of this situation from light, since it’s hard enough to live on $30 a day. Sure, not as extreme, but by no means easy in many areas of the world. We are incredibly lucky to be a part of this miniscule percentage of people who are, by all means, rich.

    Even if you’re in debt and have a terrible credit rating, you’re rich compared to much of the world. I don’t say that to deride anyone, but remind us all that we’re lucky, even when times are terrible by our own standards. There is something everyone can do to help. Even a mere dollar makes a difference; that’s a doubling of daily income for many.

    Here are a whole bunch of ways you can save more money that we’ve discussed on Lifehack. If it’s this easy to find a few dollars, it’s easy to help stop poverty.

    Make Your Own Coffee, Use the Library, Get Netflix

    Chris Brogan shares a list of ways you can cut a significant number of expenses easily and immediately, from making your own coffee with an espresso machine instead of heading out to Starbucks, using the public library instead of splurging on books all the time, drinking at a friend’s place instead of the pub and laying off the lead foot on your accelerator.

    With some or all of the money you free up using these tips, you could fund a loan with Kiva; and you’re not even losing money since the majority of these loans are fully repaid!

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    Stick to Your Budget

    Here’s a list of 32 hacks to help you stick to your budget. I’m willing to bet that most of us run out of money just before payday because we’re terrible at staying within the boundaries of our budget. If you can get yourself to stay within your budget for just one month, you could still make a difference. Maybe keeping up with a few good personal finance blogs will help in this regard as well.

    With the savings you could help out an organization such as USA for UNHCR, an organization that helps refugees; people who are not only living in poverty, but displaced from their own countries, cultures and families as well.

    Wallet-Padding Tips for Troubled Economies

    Our Thursday published a list of ways you could fatten the wallet up a bit even during harsh economic times. My favorite is the last item: stop paying attention to all the fear mongering in the news. Many are more practical, such as beefing up your resume and learning new skills so you can land a higher income.

    With the savings you could donate to an organization like the Global Fund, which fights AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria in developing countries.

    Insulate Your Crawl Space

    Kyle Potts writes that by insulating your crawl space, you can save plenty of money on your energy bill over the long-term. You won’t just save on your energy bills: a poorly insulated or vented crawl space can lead to mold and rotting in your flooring, which can cost a fortune to repair.

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    A few dollars freed up on your energy bill can make a big difference, perhaps by making it more affordable to sponsor a World Vision child.

    Save Money on Your Phone Bill

    Do you tend to blow the budget on your phone bill? Not that long ago I wrote an article that described how you could save thousands on your iPhone bill, though many of these tips – and software suggestions – are adaptable to all sorts of mobile phones, especially any kind of smartphone or PDA that tends to run the bill sky high.

    Whatever you save on your phone bill, you could give to World Concern, an international humanitarian non-profit doing some great work.

    Use Your Digital Camera

    Thursday strikes again with a list of ways you can save money with the help of a digital camera or your phone’s camera. The list covers everything from taking snaps to help you recall things that, if forgotten, will cost you more, to monetizing your best shots on stock photography sites.

    You might use your savings to donate to the Action Center to End World Hunger.

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    Get Organized

    Just keeping organized can save you a heap of dosh. I know the difference on my tax return between years when I keep meticulous expense records and years when I don’t is huge; organization certainly pays in that regard. Lorie Marrero lists a whole bunch of other ways that good organization keeps your bank account that bit fuller.

    Getting organized can free you up to donate to Poverty Fighters, a microcredit organization.

    Bring Your Own Lunch to Work

    The amount of money you can save by bringing your own lunch to work instead of heading out to an eatery or the corporate cafeteria over the course of a year is pretty amazing. According to this article, the savings come to as much as $988. That’s almost three years worth of earnings for many people living in poverty. If you could pay for one person to live for three years, three people to live for one year, or thirty people to live for a month, wouldn’t that at least bring a smile to your face?

    While you’re saving on food money, help feed someone else by donating to the Friends of the World Food Program.

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      Joel Falconer

      Editor, content marketer, product manager and writer with 12+ years of experience in the startup, design and tech digital media industries.

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      Last Updated on January 21, 2020

      Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide)

      Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide)

      Most of the skills I use to make a living are skills I’ve learned on my own: Web design, desktop publishing, marketing, personal productivity skills, even teaching! And most of what I know about science, politics, computers, art, guitar-playing, world history, writing, and a dozen other topics, I’ve picked up outside of any formal education.

      This is not to toot my own horn at all; if you stop to think about it, much of what you know how to do you’ve picked up on your own. But we rarely think about the process of becoming self-taught. This is too bad, because often, we shy away from things we don’t know how to do without stopping to think about how we might learn it — in many cases, fairly easily.

      The way you approach the world around you dictates to a great degree whether you will find learning something new easy or hard.

      The Keys to Learning Anything Easily

      Learning comes easily to people who have developed:

      Curiosity

      Being curious means you look forward to learning new things and are troubled by gaps in your understanding of the world. New words and ideas are received as challenges and the work of understanding them is embraced.

      People who lack curiosity see learning new things as a chore — or worse, as beyond their capacities.

      Patience

      Depending on the complexity of a topic, learning something new can take a long time. And it’s bound to be frustrating as you grapple with new terminologies, new models, and apparently irrelevant information.

      When you are learning something by yourself, there is nobody to control the flow of information, to make sure you move from basic knowledge to intermediate and finally advanced concepts.

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      Patience with your topic, and more importantly with yourself is crucial — there’s no field of knowledge that someone in the world hasn’t managed to learn, starting from exactly where you are.

      A Feeling for Connectedness

      This is the hardest talent to cultivate, and is where most people flounder when approaching a new topic.

      A new body of knowledge is always easiest to learn if you can figure out the way it connects to what you already know. For years, I struggled with calculus in college until one day, my chemistry professor demonstrated how to do half-life calculations using integrals. From then on, calculus came much easier, because I had made a connection between a concept I understood well (the chemistry of half-lifes) and a field I had always struggled in (higher maths).

      The more you look for and pay attention to the connections between different fields, the more readily your mind will be able to latch onto new concepts.

      How to Self-Taught Effectively

      With a learning attitude in place, working your way into a new topic is simply a matter of research, practice, networking, and scheduling:

      1. Research

      Of course, the most important step in learning something new is actually finding out stuff about it. I tend to go through three distinct phases when I’m teaching myself a new topic:

      Learning the Basics

      Start as all things start today: Google it! Somehow people managed to learn before Google ( I learned HTML when Altavista was the best we got!) but nowadays a well-formed search on Google will get you a wealth of information on any topic in seconds.

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      Surfing Wikipedia articles is a great way to get a basic grounding in a new field, too — and usually the Wikipedia entry for your search term will be on the first page of your Google search.

      What I look for is basic information and then the work of experts — blogs by researchers in a field, forums about a topic, organizational websites, magazines. I subscribe to a bunch of RSS feeds to keep up with new material as it’s posted, I print out articles to read in-depth later, and I look for the names of top authors or top books in the field.

      Hitting the Books

      Once I have a good outline of a field of knowledge, I hit the library. I look up the key names and titles I came across online, and then scan the shelves around those titles for other books that look interesting.

      Then, I go to the children’s section of the library and look up the same call numbers — a good overview for teens is probably going to be clearer, more concise, and more geared towards learning than many adult books.

      Long-Term Reference

      While I’m reading my stack of books from the library, I start keeping my eyes out for books I will want to give a permanent place on my shelves. I check online and brick-and-mortar bookstores, but also search thrift stores, used bookstores, library book sales, garage sales, wherever I happen to find myself in the presence of books.

      My goal is a collection of reference manuals and top books that I will come back to either to answer thorny questions or to refresh my knowledge as I put new skills into practice. And to do this cheaply and quickly.

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      2. Practice

      Putting new knowledges into practice helps us develop better understandings now and remember more later. Although a lot of books offer exercises and self-tests, I prefer to jump right in and build something: a website, an essay, a desk, whatever.

      A great way to put any new body of knowledge into action is to start a blog on it — put it out there for the world to see and comment on.

      Just don’t lock your learning up in your head where nobody ever sees how much you know about something, and you never see how much you still don’t know.

      Check out this guide for useful techniques to help you practice efficiently: The Beginner’s Guide to Deliberate Practice

      3. Network

      One of the most powerful sources of knowledge and understanding in my life have been the social networks I have become embedded in over the years — the websites I write on, the LISTSERV I belong to, the people I talk with and present alongside at conferences, my colleagues in the department where I studied and the department where I now teach, and so on.

      These networks are crucial to extending my knowledge in areas I am already involved, and for referring me to contacts in areas where I have no prior experience. Joining an email list, emailing someone working in the field, asking colleagues for recommendations, all are useful ways of getting a foothold in a new field.

      Networking also allows you to test your newly-acquired knowledge against others’ understandings, giving you a chance to grow and further develop.

      Here find out How to Network So You’ll Get Way Ahead in Your Professional Life.

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      4. Schedule

      For anything more complex than a simple overview, it pays to schedule time to commit to learning. Having the books on the shelf, the top websites bookmarked, and a string of contacts does no good if you don’t give yourself time to focus on reading, digesting, and implementing your knowledge.

      Give yourself a deadline, even if there is no externally imposed time limit, and work out a schedule to reach that deadline.

      Final Thoughts

      In a sense, even formal education is a form of self-guided learning — in the end, a teacher can only suggest and encourage a path to learning, at best cutting out some of the work of finding reliable sources to learn from.

      If you’re already working, or have a range of interests beside the purely academic, formal instruction may be too inconvenient or too expensive to undertake. That doesn’t mean you have to set aside the possibility of learning, though; history is full of self-taught successes.

      At its best, even a formal education is meant to prepare you for a life of self-guided learning; with the power of the Internet and the mass media at our disposal, there’s really no reason not to follow your muse wherever it may lead.

      More About Self-Learning

      Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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