Revisited: Why Do Soup Kitchens Need Volunteer Servers?


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A couple of weeks ago I posted the question, “Why do soup kitchens need volunteer servers?”  It seems like if the only issue were that people needed food, all you would need to do is to provide the food and the space and those who were eating could fix the food and clean up when they were done.  The issue is that, generally, those who are in need of a soup kitchen have other issues going on.  It isn’t just a matter of them needing food – they need food because they have an addiction, mental disorder, or another issue. That same issue also makes it necessary to staff the soup kitchen and have volunteers prepare and serve the food.


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But today I also had another realization, or I should really say, revelation:  The reason that soup kitchens need volunteers is that it is good to have the volunteers and the patrons interact.  People who volunteer for serving at soup kitchens and other activities are generally the best of the best in a community.  They are often business and community leaders or future business and community leaders.  They are people who work to produce things and services – they are builders and doers.  They often have a great attitude, always looking to the bright side.  They are givers, which is what makes them successful in their business life.  They also generally have their priorities in order and a good plan for life.

It is good for the patrons to meet people who are making good choices.  Such individuals can serve as examples of people making good choices and doing things to both better their lives and the lives of those in their communities.  They are often successful, and show that good choices lead to success, happiness, and security.  Hopefully, some of the patrons will see their example and start to get themselves out of the hole into which they have put themselves.  They can also see how making better choices can lead to a better life.

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It is also good for those who are succeeding to interact with those eating at shelters and soup kitchens.  Often it is difficult to continue to make the difficult choices that help you succeed financially when everyone else around you is spending with wild abandonment.  It is good to see where you could be if you don’t prepare and have contingencies like an emergency fund, life and disability insurance, and a paid-off home.  It is also good to remind yourself often of the blessings you have, because most people are just one major medical event or a job loss away from being on the other side of the counter.

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Disclaimer: This blog is not meant to give financial planning or tax advice.  It gives general information on investment strategy, picking stocks, and generally managing money to build wealth. It is not a solicitation to buy or sell stocks or any security. Financial planning advice should be sought from a certified financial planner, which the author is not. Tax advice should be sought from a CPA.  All investments involve risk and the reader as urged to consider risks carefully and seek the advice of experts if needed before investing.

Why Do Soup Kitchens Need Volunteer Servers?


Do you ever wonder why soup kitchens need people to volunteer to cook and serve the meals?  If the real issue were just providing food to people who were just down on their luck, you could just drop the food off and provide a kitchen.  Those patronizing soup kitchens rarely have anything pressing to do, so they could take it from there: prepare the meals, dish everything out, and then clean up the kitchen when they were done.

Yet soup kitchen usually use volunteers for all of the food preparation, serving, and cleaning.  And the volunteers are often people with a lot of things going on in their lives, including their work, family commitments, home maintenance, and volunteer activities.  As they say in any volunteer organization, if you want to get something done, find the people who are busy.


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The reason volunteers are needed is that there are normally reasons why those patronizing the shelters don’t have food, and it goes way beyond food not being available or being priced too high.  Many people have addiction issues.  Others may have mental conditions or personality disorders.  A few may have physical conditions that severely limit them.  In any case, it is normally the behaviors of those using the shelters that both causes them to be short of food and the necessity for volunteers to get the meals cooked and served.  If you were to just leave a pile of food and the keys to the kitchen, it is unlikely that the results would be desirable.

While many of us regularly do what is necessary to provide food and shelter for our families, we don’t do what is necessary to protect ourselves beyond the basics.  We get the unlimited data plan on our phones instead of putting away money for an emergency fund.   We buy meals out several times per week but put away nothing for retirement.  We buy our kids the latest fashions but don’t buy life insurance to protect their future should something happen to us.  We have cable but no disability insurance.

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As a result, we have no financial security should anything disrupts our lives.  If we get into a car accident and have medical bills, we need to go into debt and possibly start on the road to bankruptcy.  If we are disabled or die early, our family’s financial future is irrevocably changed and they may struggle for the rest of their lives.   When we get to retirement age, we don’t have the resources needed to pay for basic expenses and need to rely on others.

Suze Orman said it best in an interview in Money Magazine this month:

“Money is about security. It’s there to make you feel safe when everything is going well and to protect you if the worst happens.”  

Hopefully, you protect yourself against homelessness by doing things like getting and keeping a good job and staying off of drugs.  But sometimes things that are bigger than the normal day-to-day expenses come along like a hurricane, medical crisis, or an earthquake.  Sometimes the heater breaks in the middle of winter or a sinkhole opens up under our home.  Sometimes we get laid off or are forced to retire earlier than expected.  And retirement will come at some point and then you’ll need to have enough stored up to last you 20-30 years, even if Social Security and Medicare disappear.

If we have an addiction to shopping, or hobbies, or games, or stuff to the point where we are not preparing for if the worst happens while we have the opportunity, we are similar to the drug addict stopping in at the soup kitchen for a meal because he can’t hold a job.  In both cases while we may feel that we are unfortunate by circumstance, it is what we do and what we fail to do that makes us vulnerable.  Our choices stack firewood, just waiting for a spark to start the blaze.

Suze Orman also said something else that is true when you have saved and invested, such that you have money:

“I can use my money now to try to help as many people as I possibly can. I love that,” she says. “When you have money, you should never live a life where you isolate yourself from others and just use it for yourself. Money is there to make the world a better place and to help those who really can’t help themselves.”

While we can plan and do our best to be ready for disasters, there are times when we need help no matter how prepared we are.  We need to put ourselves into the position where we can help others when disaster strikes.

Follow me on Twitter to get news about new articles and find out what I’m investing in. @SmallIvy_SI

Disclaimer: This blog is not meant to give financial planning or tax advice.  It gives general information on investment strategy, picking stocks, and generally managing money to build wealth. It is not a solicitation to buy or sell stocks or any security. Financial planning advice should be sought from a certified financial planner, which the author is not. Tax advice should be sought from a CPA.  All investments involve risk and the reader as urged to consider risks carefully and seek the advice of experts if needed before investing.

Would you Rather Have a Million Dollars, or a New Car Every Three Years?


Would you drive a used car until you were 55 if someone would pay you a million dollars to do so?  Understand this doesn’t mean driving a junker – just driving a four-year-old car until it was eight years old and then trading for another four-year-old car.  If you would take this deal – and I think that most people would – why would you go on buying new cars anyway?

The fact is, if you can save up and buy used cars for cash every four years, rather than taking on a new payment schedule and dropping deeper underwater with each new car loan, you can invest the savings and have over $1 million by the time you are 55 just from the savings on the car loans.  Even more insane, that $1 million will turn into $2 million by the time you are 62, $4 million by the time you are 69, and a cool $8 million by the time you are 76 (which will probably be the new retirement age, given current life expectancies).

How could this be so?  Two reasons: depreciation and interest.

Basically, any car will drop in value by 50% in four years.  This means that a new car which cost $30,000 will be worth about $15,000 in four years.  This means that the car will lose an average of $3750 per year during each of the first four years.  This, by the way, is if you sell it to another individual.  If you trade it in, you’ll be lucky if the dealer will give you $10,000 (because he wants to make a profit from the sale of your used car to someone else).

 

              

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The same depreciation rate is true when you buy a used car – it will still lose about 50% of its value over four years –  but because the price of the car is less, the depreciation loss per year will be less.  Let’s say you pick up that car someone else bought new for $30,000 after four years when it was worth $15,000.  Even if it drops in value to $7500 over the next four years, you’ll still only be losing $1,875 per year.  This means that you will save $1,875 per year, which you can invest.

The second reason that what seems like a small amount of savings can turn into a large amount of money in 35 years is compound interest.  Specifically, while you are paying interest when buying a car on payments, you are being paid interest when you are able to save money that would have been going to a car payment and invest.  If you were going to be paying 8% interest on a car loan, but instead pay cash for the car and invest the rest, you will be getting an effective interest rate of 20% on your money, assuming a 12% return on stocks.  This means that instead of working extra hours to pay the interest on your car loan, you will be making money for simply letting others use your money to build their businesses.

So before you fall into the trap of endless car payments, think about what that car payment is really costing you – millions of dollars over your lifetime.  Is that new car smell and 32,000-mile warranty really worth that?

Your investing questions are wanted.  Please send to vtsioriginal@yahoo.com or leave in a comment.

Follow me on Twitter to get news about new articles and find out what I’m investing in. @SmallIvy_SI

Disclaimer: This blog is not meant to give financial planning or tax advice.  It gives general information on investment strategy, picking stocks, and generally managing money to build wealth. It is not a solicitation to buy or sell stocks or any security. Financial planning advice should be sought from a certified financial planner, which the author is not. Tax advice should be sought from a CPA.  All investments involve risk and the reader as urged to consider risks carefully and seek the advice of experts if needed before investing.