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Personal Finance Takeaways from the Occupy Wall Street Protest

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Last week, one of the most controversial protests began in New York City. The protestors are talking about the applications of financial education. They are sleeping outside, they are being arrested, they are bringing attention to some very sensitive financial conversations and they just might be teaching us all a thing or two about our individual financial ideals.

What is the Occupy Wall Street Protest?
On September 17, 2011 a group of diverse people set out to change the way corporations do business in this country. Photos posted on the internet show people that are young and old, of many different cultures and ethnicities, and various gender representations. According to the website, www.OccupyWallSt.org, the organization is the “99% that will no longer tolerate the greed and corruption of the 1%”. There are people that want to raise taxes on the wealthy, people that want to modify the way taxes are levied on corporations, people that want to regulate the income difference between C-suite executives and employees and others that wanted to have the “personhood” of corporations repealed. They have different agendas, but similar motivations. People are being taken advantage of by corporations and these peaceful protestors believe that they can change things.

Takeaways from the Protest
Whether you agree or disagree with the message of the protestors there are definitely some things we can learn from them:

Find out how things work. If you want things to be different (i.e. jobs, foreclosures, taxes, etc.) then you have to understand how those things work so you can advocate for changes. Griping to your friends doesn’t count as “doing something”. Figure out who you need to contact and then organize your network to let that person, or those people, know that changes need to occur.

Peacefully fight for your rights. Nothing will change if you don’t let people know, with your dollars, votes, etc. that changes need to be made. It’s up to each of us to advocate for stronger communities. Don’t be afraid to let your voice be heard.

Understand that you’ve got the responsibility, and the ability, to change things. The great thing about our country is that we are built on the idea that each of us can contribute positively to the political and economic climate of our country. That means that you have a responsibility to make sure that you’re doing your part to create stability in your communities. You have some wonderful tools and resources inside of you to get that job done. Your ideas are valuable and our country needs those ideas.

You don’t have to sleep on the streets of New York to contribute your energy to bettering our nation. Do what you feel comfortable with in your own neighborhood, but do something.

Shay Olivarria is the most dynamic financial education speaker working today. She has written three books on personal finance, contributes to multiple online media platforms, and is a foster care alumni. She's been quoted on Bankrate.com, FoxBusiness.com, and The Credit Union Times, among others. Visit www.BiggerThanYourBlock.com to find out more about her work.

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+1 # Guest 2011-09-28 13:36
The movement is gaining momentum after a week and a half and Occupy movements are popping up all over the country! Stand up together and use your voice to give to those without. Tax the rich and feed the poor- you are the 99%! See my Occupy Wall Street painting and Anonymous homage on my artist’s blog at http://dregstudiosart.blogspot.com/2011/09/occupywallstreet.html where you can also see videos of the protests and police brutality as well as get other sources for real coverage of the movement.

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