Guest Post: 4 Ways to Support Local Businesses and Stick to Your Budget
Shopping at local stores almost always costs you more than shopping at brand name, chain stores. This can make supporting your local businesses a little more challenging if you're on a budget. If you need new clothes, it may be difficult to justify paying an extra $100 at a local boutique that only uses natural materials to make their clothes. Despite the costs associated with shopping local, you may still have a desire to do more to support local, ethical stores and companies.
Fortunately, there are things you can do to support these businesses without draining your bank accounts. Here are four things you can start doing now:
1. Avoid rigid shopping habits
If you decide to only shop local, you may end up spending a lot more money than you'd like to. Buying all of your books at a local bookstore, for instance, could cost you a pretty penny in comparison to what you'd spend if you ordered most of your books from Amazon.
If shopping 100% local just isn't financially reasonable, that's ok. As a conscious, thoughtful shopper, you just need to figure out which big businesses you don't want to support and which ones you don't mind supporting. And you need to make an effort to support local businesses whenever you can in a way that's reasonable considering your financial limitations.
You might, for instance, buy your groceries at a local, organic grocery store every other week, and buy your groceries at a regular store the rest of the time. If you did something like this habitually for a year, you'd end up spending a good amount of money supporting local businesses. And you probably will have done so without breaking the bank.
2. Sign up for email updates
While it can seem like a hassle to give stores your email address, doing so can definitely help you save money in the future. Most local businesses won't send you an excessive amount of email updates. However, they will probably send you emails about sales and special deals they have going on. Knowing about and taking advantage of price reductions at local businesses will help you save money when you shop local. Additionally, each time you buy from a local business during a sale, you'll be helping that business get rid of its excess inventory.
If you're not fond of receiving promotional emails, you may want to create a separate email account that you specifically use for email updates from stores. You can check this email account every once in a while to see what kinds of deals are going on, without having to be bothered by any promotional emails in your regular inbox when you're not in shopping mode.
3. Get involved
You can support local businesses without spending money by volunteering at the farmer's market, writing Yelp reviews for local businesses you like, and introducing your friends and family members to new local businesses. The simple things you do to help small, ethical businesses grow can make a huge difference.
Small businesses with limited marketing budgets depend on their best customers to spread the word about what they're doing. So, think about ways you can get involved and help businesses in your community without having to exhaust your financial resources.
4. Shop less in general
Most people buy more than they need, and breaking the habit of overconsumption can be tough. Once you start to make smarter shopping decisions, however, it'll be easier for you to reduce your overall consumption and spend more of your hard-earned money on things you actually need from local shops you want to support.
Shopping less in general will help you save money, and it may help you focus more on the intangible things that truly matter in life. You have a lot of power as a consumer, and the choices you make do matter.
So, consider the tips above as you continue or begin to support local businesses. There's no need to go broke buying sustainable goods. You can most definitely stick to your budget while being a more aware, ethical consumer!
About the author: Carol Wilson is a guest blogger, professional writer, and business owner who frequently freelances for business and consumer-related sites. Carol likes to write about sustainability, technology, and economics. Please send your comments, questions, and writing requests for Carol to firstname.lastname@example.org.