OPINION: Solve Your Own Money Problems So You Can Help Haiti

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By now, some of us are getting used to seeing footage of the horrific earthquake in Haiti. But there’s more than one reason we shouldn’t let ourselves become numb to those haunting images.

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Not only do they remind us that there’s work to be done to rebuild for millions of Haiti’s survivors, but they remind us that it’s time to be grateful for what we have. Our struggles with the economy in recent months have been real – but they also could have been a lot worse. Most Americans are in debt and millions are unemployed, in danger of losing their homes to foreclosure or both. That’s no picnic, to be sure. But the truth is, most of us will go home to a hot meal and running water tonight. Most of us will have a roof over our head, whether we own or rent. And most of us will go home to our families. Most Haitians can’t say the same.

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I know getting out of debt is no easy task. If it was, we’d all be rich – or at least financially stable. But unlike the weather or geography, debt is something within our control.

The more of our debt we pay off each month, the less we’ll owe in the future. Not sure where to get the money to put towards your debt? It’s probably easier than you think. Nearly all of us have some hidden costs, whether it’s the DVD rental service we don’t really use or the fancy coffee drinks we buy. By making simple changes like buying generic brands, eating out less or cutting out some cable channels, you might save enough to start making a dent in your debt. If you can’t bear to completely cut anything out, try reducing your consumption.

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These past couple years have been rough economically, but it’s nothing from which we can’t recover. Some of us can afford to donate part of our paycheck – however small – to help the Haitian people. For those of us who can’t, though, maybe the best we can do is to take care of our own finances so that in the future, we’ll be better able to help ourselves – and others.

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