While you are carefully minding your household budget, you can still support small businesses by buying from stores within your community. In the vast majority of cases, the prices are competitive. Your purchases will help keep these businesses running and business owners can, in turn, employ people from within the community and their supply chain (including farmers and other manufacturers).
Here’s how to strike a balance between spending from your tight budget and “doing your part” to pump some money back into the economy. As always, spending within your means should rule your purchase behaviour.
Be choosy about where you spend
Just over 30 per cent of an average household budget is spent on two categories that have ample flexibility as to where your spending happens: the first is food and household supplies, the second is entertainment, clothes and wellness. It’s easy to choose local retailers for groceries, the occasional takeout, a new pair of shoes and cleaning products. If you were worried about inventory availability, don’t be. These businesses should be well-stocked by this point in the pandemic.
Many small businesses have pivoted toward a digital model and are incorporating curbside pickup and delivery. It can take time to work out the kinks with these new methods, so having patience with vendors while they figure out how to deliver safer service is also an important form of support.
The other large spending areas such as housing and transportation are pretty much locked in, unless you were already planning to refinance your mortgage or buy a new vehicle. If that’s the case, still be choosy so that you get a good deal, and support a company that aligns with your values.
Spending a smaller amount still helps — a lot
Just about everyone is paring back spending from pre-COVID-19 levels because times are still uncertain. But, given reasonable job security, slowly reincorporating nice-to-have expenditures, at a reduced rate, on things like virtual personal training, gift cards for birthdays and replacing a well-used bicycle, for example, will help the economy. There is no shame in spending less. In fact, the pandemic has taught us that it doesn’t matter how much you have to spend, it’s what you do with it that counts.
Free support can move the economy forward, too
Leaving a thoughtful Google, Yelp or Facebook review of a business can go a long way toward convincing someone else to buy from them. Get specific about what makes the business great and incorporate a quality photo, if you have one. “Like” or follow their Instagram, Facebook and YouTube accounts. Comment on posts that you can relate to. Offer to be a reference, such as in the case of a home renovation. The same advice applies when you’re supporting a solopreneur like a coach or physical therapist.
Support the second-hand market
As charities reopen, wash and then donate what you don’t need; clothes, household supplies and even older cars that are still in good condition. These items will be given or resold (at a low cost) to someone in need. For many Canadians who are out of work right now, these donations could go a long way toward making ends meet, and hopefully getting back to work sooner, which is good for Canada’s economy.
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If you’ve got a need but funds are tight, buying second-hand anything from Kijiji or Facebook Marketplace, for example, saves you money, reduces waste and gets money moving in the economy by putting cash into the hands of sellers.
Moving money through the economy is an essential ingredient to economic recovery. But no one car, PlayStation or house purchase will fix Canada’s finances. It will be a combination of millions of purchases every day, big and small, and other economic measures at the federal and provincial levels, that unlock the road to recovery as the provinces start to reopen.
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