Monday, November 19, 2007

The weak Dollar

I never really paid attention to the economy when I lived in the US. I also never really paid attention when I heard about the US Dollar being weak. Now I do. Now I am watching it ever so closely.

Because of the weak US Dollar, we are experiencing a money crunch here in Arusha. Compared to this time last year, with the weakening (as in it goes down daily) exchange rate, we are paying 25% more for everything that we pay for using Tanzanian shillings...which is nearly everything. This time last year, you would get 1300 Tanzanian Shillings per USD. In the last 3 months there has been a steady decline, and it is now about 1100. Ouch. Add to that, the cost of living here has increased. I don't know how Tanzanians are surviving.

Take oranges for example. A year ago you could get 5 oranges for 100 TSH. Today, to get 5 oranges you pay 500 TSH. That's five time the amount folks! Add to it that many Tanzanians don't make enough to spend that much on oranges and you wonder why crime is on the rise, people are malnourished...it goes on.

My car has two gas tanks. It used to cost me about $135 to fill up. It now costs about $180 per fill-up. Cost of living increase, coupled with a weak exchange rate...Ouch. I fill up about once per month...at nearly $45 per month that adds up to $540 per year. You feeling my pain?

We had a meeting tonight as a team, as it also poses a financial threat to our ministries. Each August we make a budget for the following year. When we made our Budget for 2008 at the beginning of August this year, the dollar wasn't suffering so much. Based on the current exchange rate, we are now short $7000 for our team budget for 2008. YIKES! Our budget didn't increase, and the amount of USD that we will receive from the USA didn't decrease, but the amount of Tanzanian shillings we are receiving for those lovely greenbacks is greatly decreasing, and since we operate in Tanzanian shillings...it hurts. The difficult part, is that there doesn't appear to be a change in the future concerning the weak dollar. Ugh.

Pray that the Dollar would gain some strength, or that more dollars for our ministry would flood in to cover the damage.

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