The fine folks at Contented Cows have an equally fine free newsletter I read. In the issue I just received came their ways in which all could mitigate another financial mess in the future. Consider...

1. If you want to help prevent future meltdowns, work to create/strengthen laws that clearly define the obligations of corporate and organizational boards of directors with respect to financial and/or ethical malfeasance within the institution.

2. Work with kids to teach them fiscal responsibility and how to manage a bank account. Start at home, and expand your effort to include local schools.

3. Since many of us have more time and less money on our hands, and are opting (by necessity) not to dine out, let's get reacquainted with that rectangular appliance with the burners on top in our kitchen. Cooking can actually be fun, it is therapeutic, and the results can be much healthier than eating prepared stuff out of a box whose contents label contains words you can't even pronounce. Indeed, one of the best meetings I EVER attended was at the Culinary Institute of America's Napa Valley campus where I spent an afternoon in the kitchen with a group of corporate managers.

4. Do outreach within your own neighborhood. We've all got at least one neighbor who is struggling but is probably too proud to ask for help; an elderly person, or someone who has lost their job perhaps. Fix a meal for them, take their kids shopping, send them an anonymous gift card, or if you know they are job hunting, offer to help them with their search. Just do it. It''s not the government's job, that's what neighbors are for.

5. If your fiscal condition is getting you down, you may find that time spent getting into better physical shape is more within your immediate grasp. Besides, if you're worn out from a good, hard workout, it's likely you'll sleep better.

6. Focus similar efforts in your workplace. Doing so is good not just for the recipient, but the giver and the organization as well. It is good for business, because people who are consumed by worry aren't moving very fast, generating many ideas, or serving customers well.

Anything else?

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Ask and you shall receive, Steve!

I can't stress #2 enough! My parents are good people but they taught me NOTHING about credit. When I was 18 I got my first credit card through Discover and my Dad told me it was a bad idea and make sure I pay it every month and so ended my lesson in credit. That was it. Now, 9 years later, I made my mistakes and have a much deeper understanding about credit and finances, partially by pouring through CNN money and any other source of financial information available to the general public and partially through emperical experience with lenders and banks. Not good experience either.

Now I have a 2 year-old and it is my mission to instill the value of money as well as the credit and financial knowledge he will need to prosper in this life. I wish my parents had done that for me. My boyfriend is in agreeance with me that we will give our kids the information our parents never gave us because he pretty much got the same credit lesson from his parents that I received. I'm looking forward to a more fiscally responsible America!
I do a few of the above to keep myself from feeling too dejected about the state of things. I've also started trying out this blogging thing...speaking of which I haven't posted in a couple days and I'm starting to get the shakes...

A more legitimate item I try to make good on is being more mindful of my impact on the environment. I'm not quite as much of a tree-hugger as my brothers who both went into environmental biology, but I do try to monitor my negative impact a bit more closely these days. I print less paper, turn off lights when I don't need them, dialed my heat down a couple degrees this winter, and will be getting a high mileage socially-responsible vehicle once I can get rid of my current one. Basically just a little feel-good for myself because these are all pretty low effort things that are steps in the right direction.

Maybe I'll start wearing hemp jewelry again too.

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