It's too early to know, or comment on, the economic fallout from COVID-19.
Part of what I have personally found overwhelming is the cacophony of varied economic experiences:
Many people are jobless, have had income interrupted, or lost big in the market; others are flush with cash that they would have otherwise spent on restaurants, gym memberships, commuting, and travel. Some businesses and restaurants are shuttered or declaring bankruptcy; while trampolines, puzzles, & Peletons are back-ordered and meal-prep services can't keep up.
One truth that is indisputable: the economy local to our area is immensely valuable. It's necessary to the lives & livelihoods of our neighbors, and to the vibrancy (not to mention basic maintenance) of our towns & cities.
[Obviously, dignify is an online store, and almost certainly not in your neighborhood! I appreciate that if we all shopped completely locally, a business like dignify would be dead.
I'm ok with holding that tension.]
Dylan & Naomi are friends of mine who have been intentionally "loving locally" for 9 years. Dylan is a municipal councillor of their city of ~65,000 and is passionate about making their hometown more sustainable, livable, and connected.
Since the pandemic hit and isolation changed... everything... they have become more intentional about how to spend money locally.
Chatting with Dylan, he shared some great ideas that are simple, practical, and actionable, so I'm excited to share our convo with you!
Right now, we aren't buying anything online until we've looked to see if we can buy it locally. So we're making sure to re-task some of our existing spending to local businesses.
But we're also concerned about our local retail and hospitality sector. So we've re-allocated some of our monthly spending.
We've used category based budgeting for many years (YNAB is our system) [dignify note: we love YNAB, too!]. This allows us to allocate our monthly spending to match up with our family's priorities.
Usually we put aside a bit of money each month for our next vacation. For now, that's been cut dramatically. We also have "fun money" categories for each member of our family. These have also been cut.
Instead, we're putting these funds into a "local fun" category.
It's money that we'll spend at locally owned retail businesses or restaurants. So far, we've bought puzzles from a board game cafe, local brewed beer, and some very nice coffee. I think takeout for a family movie night will be next.
We've enjoyed this "local fun" category. It supports businesses we care about. And it's guilt free, fun spending for us!
Not really. We certainly spent money locally — I've dumped thousands into our local economy over the last month because we had a very bad basement foundation leak! But that's not money I would've chosen to spend.
Supporting local was on our radar, but we had zero discipline to make sure we were spending a certain amount locally.
Like many, we've lost income and we don't know what our income looks like month-to-month. But, we've also been relatively fortunate so far. So, we want to make sure we're helping keep the local economy going. At the start of every month, we'll need to evaluate how much money to put into "local fun."
But, it will certainly be a part of our budget for the foreseeable future.
My overall attitude towards businesses I like is: if I want this business to succeed (survive!), I need to support it how I can.
Here are some other ideas that I have seen or heard lately for investing in the local economy:
We're just working on one, small step at a time, in the direction of "the good". Share any other ideas or comments below!
This dignify post draws from Derek Thompson's October 7th article in The Atlantic.
Thompson's article explains the practical challenges in 2021 for consumers as well as for retailers.
Here's how some of these points relate to dignify right now and in the coming months:
Mystery novels have often appealed to people with jobs that are never fully resolved (doctors, pastors, social workers). In this cultural era of many-problems-few-resolutions, reading a good mystery can be a refreshing break.
Our 12-year old daughter is the most avid, prolific reader I know! We teamed up to create a list of mysteries for all ages of independent readers. The recos below are listed with increasing age levels in mind, but no specific age parameters (as a mature, well-read, near-teen, she has read up to Agatha Christie on this list).
Our 11-year old computer is showing creaky signs of age, just about ready to go to sleep (and never wake up). But, we feel that it has served us well. When I compare it to other expenses over the years, the laptop is — at about a $100/year investment — one of our best value-for-dollar belongings.
When shopping for items like this, how do we choose well? How do we discern what brand/style/variety is built to last? Or, how do we determine even if “built to last” is relevant to the purchase?