21 May 2008

5 Ways to Make a Difference With Your Money

day in the life: lunch moneyImage by emdot via Flickr

I sometimes feel powerless to effect real change in the world, it can be so demoralising when the problems are so big and I am just one person. At times like this I remind myself that while this may seem to be true, as a consumer I wield the ultimate power. The power to choose who I do business with, to choose which businesses I recommend to my friends and family, to choose where I spend my money or even IF I spend it at all.

If we think carefully about how we use our money and recognise the power that it represents to us as consumers, we really can begin to use it to maximum effect to make a positive change in the world.

Here are 5 ideas to make your money work to change the world:

1. Spend Money on the Basics
Keep yourself, your home, your car . . . in tip top condition. Spending small amounts of time regularly to maintain your assets means you don't end up with an expensive repair bill later on.

By keeping your home maintained you will keep it warm and healthy - which in turn keeps you warm and healthy and makes sure your possessions inside the home are kept in good order too. You will spend less on heating in the winter - which keeps your bills (and your carbon footprint) down.

The better you take care of your assets the longer they last and the less money you need to spend on costly repairs, or even costlier replacements. In today's throw away society this is indeed a revolutionary act!!

2. Decide on your Values
Its not enough to just want to save the world. You really need to do some deep soul searching so that you have a strong set of values to help guide your spending. If you have thought about the things that are important to you, if you have decided what is enough for you then it is much easier to make values based decisions when it comes to money.

3. Do your Research
Before you part with your hard earned money make sure you do your research. Is the company you plan to buy from one that shares your values? Is the company you plan to invest with one whose products and practices you can support? Do they use child labour? Sell products that are harmful? Treat employees with respect? Care for the environment? . . .

Use your spending power to full effect and choose carefully who gets your money!!

4. Think Carefully Before you Buy
Is the product (or service) in line with your values? Do you actually need it? Can it be recycled? Do you need to buy new or will secondhand be just as good? Is there an alternative with less packaging? Could you borrow or hire it instead?

5. Don't Forget to Share
The most obvious way to make a difference with your money is to donate to non-profit organisations that support causes that are in line with your values. My family chooses our Charity (or Charities) to support at the beginning of the year and we put aside an amount we can afford each week and give our gift at Christmas.

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P.Price said...

Good stuff!

Paul @ Green Pepper said...

Great post, Meg. Consumer power is the ultimate sanction against companies who don't share our values or respect people and the planet.