I’m not a spender. Growing up wearing hand me downs, being afraid to ask my mother for money, and having spent the majority of my life not being able to “keep up with the Jones’s” made me frugal. Having expensive taste without the income to support it taught me to save for what I really wanted instead of wasting my money and settling for a cheaper, more disposable substitute. Age and travel altered my priorities. I prefer the freedom that comes with having good credit and no debt. Nowadays I rarely buy anything new as I realize there’s no value in it. New cars lose a large percentage of their value the minute you drive them off the lot. Same is true with furniture, jewelry, and clothing. I enjoy window shopping, finding deals at thrift stores or on Craigslist/FB Marketplace where I’ve bought these items in like-new condition for a fraction of the cost they’d be new or at an antique store. Sometimes I’ll even do a trade.
When my roommates brother recently made millions from a Bitcoin investment and gave him $1,000 “just because,” my roommate didn’t know what to buy. Like me, he has everything he needs and is in a position to buy whatever he wants. He asked me what I’d do if someone gave me $1000. I said I’d get my hair done and buy the mirror at the thrift store I’ve been eyeing even though, at $50, I think it’s overpriced. Maybe get a mani and pedi, too. The rest I’d save until I found something that I really wanted. Or maybe I’d take a trip; I’ve been dying to ski Whistler. But probably not.
Now I have $1,400 coming to me as a stimulus check. Honestly though, it’s not really that much money. It certainly wouldn’t even cover one month of my rent if I didn’t have roommates. But I do, fortunately, as well as a job. So, what am I going to do with my money? After seeing firsthand how the community here supports one another, I know I’m NOT going to spend it on Amazon or at any chain stores. (If you haven’t read it yet, please check out my article https://wordsworthywriting.wordpress.com/2021/02/19/community-in-action/ ) Helping these billion dollar companies make more money while local businesses struggle only makes the rich richer and does nothing to help thy neighbor. As much as I’d like to save it all for a rainy day, I won’t. Aside from paying down my credit card, I am going to use most of it for its intended purpose: to stimulate the local economy. I’ve scheduled a long needed haircut, have plans for a manicure and pedicure, and may see an acupuncturist or masseuse or someone who can help me with the constant pain in my neck and shoulders. I subscribed to a local magazine, of which 25% went to a local environmental non-profit. I’m also going to subscribe to the NYT as I believe quality journalism should be supported. I’m going to fill my gas tank. At almost $3.00 a gallon, when I don’t even need a vehicle to get around town, that’s a big deal for me. At least in Oregon that actually does help the economy. We pay a premium for gas here because we aren’t allowed to pump it ourselves. The extra money pays the wages of the jobs created by having pump attendants, and I’m happy to contribute. All of this will equal half of the check.
Since I don’t attend religious services, I’ve decided to ‘tithe’ a portion of this money on food for another homeless person we will be housing at the end of the month. I might also splurge and get a fly fishing lesson. It’s a beautiful, tranquil activity that I’ve fantasized learning since I saw A River Runs Through It, a feeling which was recently revived upon reading the book. Although, as ungraceful as I am, I’m not sure it will have the poetic elegance as portrayed by Brad Pitt or Norman Maclean. Maybe I’ll just support the local art community.
That makes at least eight local individuals, organizations, and businesses that will benefit from my conscious spending. I realize my small spending is a drop in the bucket, but if everyone in the community contributes a drop, soon the cup will runneth over. Why wouldn’t I want to help them? They’ve shared all their talents and risked everything to have a business that contributes to making my life more comfortable and attractive. They forego the riches of capitalism to take care of our mountains and rivers and the rising homeless population. They are my neighbors. I see them at the local coffee shops and at the parks with their children. If you don’t need your stimulus check, how are you going to spend it? How can you help your community through conscious spending?