They say the rich get richer, and we’re staring down an administration that prioritizes saving money for the .1% while cutting programming for our nation’s poorest communities – a fact highlighted by this American Health Care Act, which stands to remove coverage for millions of people, while offering tax rebates for those who can best provide for themselves already. Do you think the Koch Brothers are worried about whether their emergency funds would cover a surgery or medication? I think they’d scoff at the mere concept of an emergency fund.
But here we are. Our government stands to steal from the poor to give to the rich. I don’t have a solution to this problem unless someone has a time machine and ample voting power in swing states.
That said, we can also be the change we wish to see in the world. Just because our government is trying to keep the lower and middle classes down, doesn’t mean we have to add to the problem.
I’m all for being a #frugalboss, except when you have a chance to steal from the rich and give to the poor. I’ll spend the extra money when I know where it’s going.
1. Buy local
Yes, I can be a huge hypocrite with this one. I mentioned before that I’ll buy groceries online, but that’s only for the things that can’t reasonably come from my local farmer’s market. “Local” can be a misnomer here in Los Angeles since so many of our farmer’s markets are powered by Fresno, but it’s still worth it to support the small businesses that set up shop.
Is it slightly more expensive than Ralphs? Sure. Is it better? Maybe. Does it feel good to support an individual or small business, rather than a corporation? You bet your ass it does.
And while I’ll bust out the shopping hacks and coupon codes for big retailers like Amazon, I’m more comfortable paying full price for goods that are made ethically and locally. I like to think of it as taking from the pockets of Jeff Bezos and giving to a local business owner, even if it’s actually coming from my own paycheck.
2. Be a generous tipper
If I’m getting a service, I’ll tip. It’s as easy as that. Unless something went terribly, terribly wrong, I’ll go for the 20% standard. I wish businesses were up-front about how much they pay their employees to provide each service, but until that day comes, I assume that the owner is really getting the lion’s share. This helps bridge the difference.
Also, and this goes without saying, but please tip for the full price, even if you’re there because you have a Groupon or a gift card. The employee isn’t working any less just because you happened to pay less for it.
3. Vote with your dollar
There are businesses and products I won’t support, whether for their political views, damage to the environment, or treatment of workers. I’m not going to harp on them here, but I encourage everyone to only support businesses that align with their own values – or at least are not actively trying to screw people.
The good news is there are plenty of interested parties keeping tabs on corporate ethics, such as Ethisphere, so you’ll know that your money is supporting more than just their Executive Suite. That said, it’s not realistic to remember every single company that isn’t on the up and up.
To make this easier, I like to use Buycott. It takes all of 3 minutes to set up an account and choose the causes I care about (ie. boycotting Trump products, promoting sustainable fishing…). Whenever I want to purchase something, but am unsure of whether my dollar will support a company that’s worth supporting, I can scan the item and see a quick guide on the company’s impacts and practices, as they relate to my causes.
If the product doesn’t make the cut, the app automatically suggests alternatives that more closely align. Even better, it’ll prompt you to message the company to explain why you’re choosing not to support their product – although whether or not they actually care is a different story.
(And please, actually vote every chance you get. Even when you think it doesn’t matter. Don’t know what elections are coming up? You can always find them here!)
The reality is that we’re not just spending money on things – we’re also supporting businesses and people, whether we mean to or not. While our government may not be doing us many favors these days, we can step in with support, instead of continuing to line the pockets of the rich. Oh, and archery lessons don’t hurt, either.
My favorite free financial tool I use is M1 Finance. I've previously written about M1's free trades, automatic rebalancing, and easy-to-use interface, but it really does make investing accessible and easy. If you're not already investing in some way, or if you're looking for a tool that makes it easy to manage, I recommend trying it out.
You can also sign up to have my most recent articles sent straight to your email inbox for free!