Did you know the the power of your purse?
The power of your purse is crucial to be aware of. When you purchase something, it is like a vote for that product or that company. Try to only purchase what you want companies to make more of.
I try not to get carried away with good deals anymore. I understand them to be a sale’s tactic. Even in my early twenties I stopped using coupons since I figured out that I buy things I usually wouldn’t buy, making me spend more than I would and forcing myself to eat processed food I ordinarily wouldn’t. (Have you noticed most coupons are for processed food? Give me a coupon for an apple and I’ll use it.)
Then about 15 years ago a JoAnn’s Etc (an arts and crafts store) opened near me. The store opened with a sale “50% off.” The whole store? These were new items and the sale lasted for months. I was suspicious. These items were priced exactly what the store needed to sell them at. We were not getting a deal. I voted no, and rarely shop there.
Power of your purse
Stores know that we, Americans, are apt to buy items that we don’t need when we think it is a deal that we cannot pass up. But at what cost? The interest we pay on our credit card is often greater than the original savings. And did we need it in the first place?
It is also important to look beyond ourselves and understand that there is an impact to the environment, to the economy and to the world in the production of these inexpensive items. These are the cost that concerns me the most. If you have time, watch the Story of Stuff to understand the value and the history of these items we that we get ‘deals’ for. I love this video and think of it every time I buy something.
I may be called a scrooge but it hard for me to buy un-fairly traded goods for the holidays. Nor do I want to waste money on a gift someone wouldn’t use. Read Scroogenomics: Why You Shouldn’t Buy Presents for the Holidays by Joel Waldfogel. At least I am not alone!
We vote with every dollar we spend. When we buy something, we tell companies, “Yes please make more of these for this price!” If we shop only for the best deal (and I am guilty of this at times) we are sending the wrong message. We are saying it is OK to make something “really cheap in a sweatshop worth nothing and spend fuel to ship it across the world even though it will break soon” to satisfy our need to get a good deal. The company listens and sometimes defying ethical, sustainable, human right concerns – makes more. We vote with our purse, if you don’t support it, don’t buy it. Before we purchase, we have to know what we are supporting.
How do we find out the environmental cost and impact of the items we are buying? I like The Good Guide (This also comes as a free app for your phone. While you are shopping, you can scan the products barcode-with your phone’s camera- and it tells you the environmental and social impact of the product. So cool!)
So this holiday season pull the reins on blind spending just to get the shopping done and finding the best deals. Be mindful about what you are spending and where you are spending. This vote counts bigger than we can imagine. Big companies rule the world. We are the customers and “The customer is always right.” Money is energy. We have to put that energy where we want it to go in the world. The companies will listen, they have to, they need us to survive.
Someone once told me that the definition of insanity was doing the same thing and expecting something different. If Americans keep shopping the way we do, nothing will change. If we want a new world, we have to do something different. Changing the way we shop can have a great impact in healing the world. Actually it might be one of the most important things we can do.