Act 332

Resist!

Today was awash with temptation. So many flyers. So many sales. I almost gave in. I had my keys in my hand and I was going to go to Canadian Tire to buy a fantastically priced storage unit.

But then I thought about yesterday’s post. Buy nothing at a big box. I tried to rationalize my way out. It’s a good price. I would help solve a storage problem I have in my seemingly tinier and tinier house.

And then, I decided to wait for 20 minutes before I made the decision. By the time the 20 minutes was up, I was over it. I save myself the money and I’ll got on with the day.

Temptation is a harsh reality of our consumer culture. It puts me in mind of Banksy coke bottle  manifesto (at least that’s what I call it). Ironically, I work in marketing – but I like to think I’m the uncola of marketing – and I think the work we do speaks to that. But anyway, I digress. Banksy’s coke bottle probably saved me a hundred bucks today. Maybe it’ll save you some money too. Here it is. If this won’t help you find resistance, then I don’t know what will.

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Here’s a link to the full version from Upworthy
http://www.upworthy.com/the-coke-ad-that-could-destroy-all-other-products-especially-coke

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Act 331

Shop local

I’m shocked that I’m 331 days into this blog without having a single entry dedicated to shopping local. If my clients didn’t shop local, I wouldn’t have a job. And if I didn’t buy local, I wouldn’t have a local client base. Seems pretty obvious and yet…

If you’ve hung in this long reading my daily posts, you know that while this blog is mostly about money and debt it’s also about community, equity, income disparity, democracy, politics, economics and well being.

Salmon Arm recently saw the opening of a Walmart. Smart Centres fought like H-E-double hockey sticks to get what they wanted and they won. As they usually do. But we got a few good left hooks in. Pun intended. So it’s fitting on this US Thanksgiving that I do a little WM bashing. It breaks my heart to know that “associates” in the US , most of whom live below the poverty line while working for the richest corporation in America, missed Thanksgiving with their families to usher in an early arrival of Black Friday. Ugh. There’s something seriously wrong with us.

All the same, there’s not much I can do about it now, except to shop local as often as I can. On two separate occasions this week, I found what I needed at a price I could well afford at small, teeny tiny locally owned specialty shops.

Case one – olive oil. I considered buying a 3 litre tin at a big grocery store. We go through quite a bit of olive oil in my house. Then, as fate would have it, I stopped into my favourite gourmet grocers. Better oil. Cheaper. And a much more meaningful purchasing experience.

Case two – running shoes. My kids won’t stop growing. My eldest is now in bigger shoes than my own which means he gets my rarely used court shoes for gym and my skidoo boots for winter. My youngest informed me today that he has holes in his shoes. So off we went to their  local skateboard shop. The owner recognizes us when we came in. She tells me the DCs are half price and they have plenty available in his size. He’s delighted. And I won’t lie, I’m pretty pumped too.

Had I purchased either of these items at a big box  store, I would have paid more for less. Less concern, less care, less meaning and less economic impact on my local economy.

Please remember that local business owners punch above their weight in regards to the health of your community. They employ, they donate, they risk, they care. While big corporate entities come in to earn, to compete and to add coin to their already inflated bank accounts and value to their shareholders’ portfolio. It’s time we started asking what all the profit is really for. Really, it is.

The most important share you will EVER own is a share of the trust of your family and friends and the share you OWN in your own community.

So tomorrow. Buy local and BUY NOTHING at a large big box retailer. Just for a day. I will be eternally thankful for your sacrifice. But if it really does feel like a sacrifice, scroll back to the top and read again until it doesn’t. It’s not a sacrifice. It’s a contribution. It’s an act of economic practivism. And it only works if we all do it. Even if only for a day for which I give thanks.

Act 330

Two for one can be confusing but fun

This morning on my way to school with the kids, I saw an electronic billboard at my local grocery store promoting a two for one meat deal. Now, while I really dislike the barrage of digital signage that has invaded my town, I have to say, this message made an impact. So, after school, we stopped in to check out the deal. It wasn’t all meat, just some of it. But for $35, I got my basic groceries for the next couple of days and 6 packages of meat including ribs, pork steaks and ground beef. I saved twenty bucks easy. I’m happy. Even if I do still really dislike those obnoxious signs. I’m not sure why they would run a sale like that. There’s no way they’re making any money especially if customers only buy what’s on sale. Groceries is a nickel and dime business although it’s certainly one that’s seemed to increase the wealth of the Weston family of Loblaws whose worth has increased considerably in the last year.

Sometimes I just don’t get it. But even if I don’t get it, if I can still save a few bucks, I can live with it.

Act 329

Be social

Today I had to make a few dozen deliveries for a job we’re just finishing up. While at first I dreaded the idea, I ended up enjoying it very much. Got to chat and visit with fellow business owners, catch up on the latest, see what’s new in their shops. It’s good to get out and chat a bit. It’s was more invigorating than a latte and certainly more entertaining that a new something or rather. I was energized for the rest of the day and it occurred to me that sometimes we shop for that very purpose. Not for the thing but for the interaction of buying the thing. Living in a small town is especially beneficial in this case as I know many of the owners. So, as a quick shout out to fellow business owners this soon to begin season of shopping frenzy, please shop local. Your money goes further and your patronage is more meaningful.

Act 328

Teach yourself.

One of my challenges this year has been to acknowledge that my business doesn’t always generate enough revenue to cover expenses. I work with so many talented people and more often than not, I delegate the work to them. But in an effort to curb spending, I’ve had to cut some hours. As difficult as this has been, it has helped me get a handle on what I can or can’t afford. As a result, I’ve had to learn many new things. From learning how to bake a loaf of bread to how to troubleshoot web server issues, I find that with a little patience, some time and a fair share of humility, I can still learn new things. This teachable moments have saved me money. You can always pay someone to get a job done but in some cases (not all), it builds confidence and skills to try and learn it yourself. This is easier than ever with google and youtube. So give it try, you might just learn a thing or two.

Act 327

Have a Grey Cup potluck

Having a tight budget doesn’t mean you can’t have fun. If you enjoy football (I admit I’m a fan during playoffs), invite neighbours and friends over for a Grey Cup potluck. You’ll be amazed at what you can pull together from an average pantry. Some ribs, some cheesy potatoes, a few shrimp, a pot of chili. Doesn’t have to cost a fortune to have some fun.

Go Riders.

Act 326

Make your own advent calendar

I’m trying to rethink every aspect of Christmas this year. Take our advent calendars, for example. We used to buy the Lego ones. They’re fab, but they’re also almost fifty bucks. And the last thing this house needs is MORE lego. So I searched advent calendar on Pinterest this morning and saw some great ideas. I found this one, which I’ll try to implement. I already have a chalkboard in my kitchen and it could do with a bit of a makeover.So simple. And the excitement of Christmas will still be measured in days wether there is lego, or not.

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Act 325

Laugh!

I know it’s tough. I know it’s overwhelming. I know it’s hard to see your way clear of the debt. But all worry and no laughter makes us dull and unhappy. So stop thinking about it. If only for awhile.

I find a good laugh will get me through most any day. I have some standby automatic laughs ready at any time. Jerry Seinfeld’s web series “Comedians in cars getting coffee” for example. If you can get through a single episode of that series without cracking up at least once, you need some serious humour rehabilitation.

And this time of year, I can always count on Will Ferrell’s Elf to turn my frown upside down.

We’re meant to laugh. We really are. So if you stop and think about it and haven’t had a good solid loud laugh in a little while, then it’s time you stopped and found something to tickle your giggle. It reduces your blood pressure and releases stress. It makes you feel better and it’s good for you. Got it? Good. Now, onto the knock knock jokes!

Act 324

Let your custom be appreciated

Today was customer appreciation day at my local grocers. Free cake and coffee (which I missed) and some great specials ($1.00 off 4 litres of milk).

Telus has also been doing some impressive customer appreciation hosting two nights of free movies at the local theatre. Sold out unfortunately but they promise to do it again soon.

You have value as a customer (we’ve talked about this before) – so let them spoil you a bit. The holiday season is full of opportunities like these so keep an eye out and make the best of it.

If you have customers of your own, find a way to let them know they matter to you too. It’s called reciprocity and it keeps us human.

But recognize the difference between having your patronage appreciated and being patronized. My credit union recently launched a “free” video game for kids to help them “learn” financial literacy. If they sign up (mine won’t be), their name, age and location will be shared with the third party provider. That’s not appreciation. That’s creepy. And, let’s face it, pretty dull.

I’d rather have coffee and cake.

Act 323

Do a little DIY

Our thoughts have turned to Christmas. We’re expecting the visit of some of our favourite people.

Our home is comfy, cozy and small. It’s also in dire need of more storage space

So with two sheets of plywood, some two by fours, a talented and patient husband and a lick of paint, we’re well into the conversion of our upstairs storage area into a proper bedroom. We’ll hide all the storage under the bed platform and improve the look of our home.

It doesn’t have to be a major reno to have a major impact. Many years ago, we added a small deck to our backyard. It added  significant value to our home.

You just need a simple plan. Our minor reno will cost less (and look much nicer) than the stack of not so neatly piled tupperware bins that pass for storage now). And our guests will have a special spot crafted just for them.