I’m pretty open about the fact that I work at a small retail business. Small Businesses are the cornerstone of neighborhoods. They’re run by people who live close to you and have family members in the local schools. Plus, they often hire locally and support local charities when they can! However, just because I LOVE small businesses doesn’t mean, I don’t support other companies. I still get sad when some of my favorite bog box stores close (The Limited is the most recent example), and I would be devastated if Starbucks or Target ever closed.
I’ve had this on my mind a lot lately because businesses have been posting their quarterly reports over the last few weeks. Combine this with the tumultuous political landscape and I’ve been really thinking about each dollar and what it means when I spend it somewhere. No matter what, I’m actually voting for the things I find important and I need to focus my money to make sure I’m voting for things that matter to me.
Small Retail – I support small businesses. But do I make a point to spend money there so they don’t close? Do I follow them on social media? Do I tell my friends when I find something I love? I’m working on doing all of these things because I don’t simply want to be sad when another business closes. I want to be sure I did my part to keep my favorite neighborhood stores and restaurants around for many more years. When I am looking for an item, I’ve decided to check local stores first.
Big Retail – In addition to giving my support to Small Businesses, I also want to support my favorite big stores. Last week, my FitBit broke and I’ve been searching out where to buy a new one. First – always the frugalista – I checked prices at 5-6 different places. FitBit probably tells retailers how much they can charge though because all of the prices were within a few dollars of each other. The next step for me was to research which company has the values I would rather donate my money to (in exchange for the FitBit, of course). I usually check two things when I research a big company:
- Do they support any political or human rights topics that I agree or disagree with?
- Do they donate any profits to charities? If so, which ones and do I also support them?
These questions are usually pretty easy to find the answers to nowadays because the political climate has caused more companies to become engaged than ever before and you get to pick which ones you support!
Charity – I haven’t been big on donating money over the last few years because I’ve been trying to pay off the last of my student loans. However, with my payoff date coming in a few months, I’ve already decided that I need to start donating money. Now I just need to decide who I should donate to and how much. For this, I’m going over two basic questions:
- Is this a charity I can support on every level?
- How do they use the money? More specifically, how much goes to administrative costs vs. the actual cause.
Will This Make A Difference?
I have to think it will. Right now, I’m a little lost on what I can do in the world, and being more responsible with where and how I spend my money is the aspect that I’m able to control. Will the $130 I spend on a new FitBit or a $100 donation change anything immediately? No. However, over my lifetime, I hope I’m able to look back and say that all the little purchases and donations added up to a lot. Plus, if my friends and family also start to shop at places they agree with and donate to causes they support, the world overall might start to look a little different.
I understand that by doing this, someone who believes in opposing things to me might just buy and donate to opposite causes, but I really think that’s okay. We don’t all need to think exactly the same for our money to be put to better use. It’s the stopping to think about where you’re putting it and following through that will make the difference!