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What Are the True Costs & True Benefits of My Shopping

Thinking about the way we spend our money… there are costs beyond the price tag. Ecological costs, human costs, costs to dignity. A 2015 film documented the “true cost” of fast fashion, after the director was personally shocked by the Rana Plaza collapse in 2013. What costs, he wondered, were being paid to get an article of clothing?

If you buy something in a store, there is a cost to get there: in time and in gas (or other transportation expenses). If you purchased something to be delivered, there are costs there, too — hidden costs, perhaps, but costs (to somebody) nonetheless. 

When we think about it all too much, it can get our heads spinning. What is the “true cost” of every dollar I spend, every item I buy? If we go into the weeds, it can be so overwhelming and paralyzing that it becomes counter-productive; we might put our heads in the sand just for some peace & quiet from all the complexity.

I’ve realized that there can also be auxiliary benefits to the dollars we spend, beyond the straight product or service we get in exchange.

When I pay for a spin class at a local studio, I am strictly paying for 50 minutes of guided exercise. But, with the workout, I am also buying:

  • Social interaction (for this work-from-home extrovert)
  • An investment in my long-term health & longevity
  • Support for the business owner’s dreams
  • Participation in a wider community 
  • Affirmation for a business model that treats people well and does good in the neighborhood

There is often more to a purchase than just what appears on the receipt. A foosball table or firepit might mean social gathering, or extending the summertime. Going for dessert with your teen, or to the zoo with your toddler, isn't just for the flavor of the cake or to spot the animals. 

When I'm buying something, I always consider things like longevity, and how much I will use it, and quality of materials, etc. But, I don't always consider the intangible costs — and/or benefits — that a purchase (or maybe my reluctance of a purchase) might include.

Recently, someone asked us what our highlights have been so far of running dignify. And many of the best things, the memories and impact that have stood out, have been surprises that we never could have imagined.

One customer shared: she bought a cotton throw blanket called "Hope" for a friend who was struggling with infertility. The friend traveled a lot for work, and took her blanket with her on the road as a comfort. Now, 2 years later, this customer was buying her friend a baby blanket :)

It's also been a highlight to work from home, with my husband, and have the flexibility we've enjoyed for our young family. I've loved modeling working hard. dignify has been a wonderful, rich story in our family's history.

All of these extra, true benefits, would never be on the product description! But, they are real!


If you have any experiences or examples you would add, I would love to hear them in the comments below!


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