Heart

How to Vote With Your Wallet

I made scones this morning for breakfast.

I love scones so much. My family is not as jazzed about them as a general rule, but there is one scone recipe I stumbled across a few years ago that we all absolutely love.

I don’t make them very often, though, because they have chocolate in them.

Don’t get me wrong — I love chocolate as much as the next person, but several years ago, I read a lot about how the major chocolate companies exploit people, especially children, and I decided in my heart that if I can’t afford to buy fair-trade certified chocolate, then I can’t afford to buy chocolate at all.

I love that I have the ability to do that as a consumer. The money I make belongs to me, and I get to decide how to spend it. Do you remember when the whole fiasco with Target bathrooms was what everyone was talking about on Facebook? There was a lot of talk then about how we can affect even big companies like Target by choosing to not spend our money there.

(For the record, I haven’t shopped at Target since then, not because I’m formally boycotting them, but because I was plagued with indecision. I’m still not quite sure how I feel about their bathroom policy, and I’d rather not shop there until I’m sure I feel good about it, than continue to spend money there when I think it might be wrong.)

I know it doesn’t seem like much, choosing this store over that one, one brand instead of another. It probably feels like it doesn’t matter if you don’t buy something, because there are so many other people who will. You’re wrong, though. That is the same kind of reasoning that keeps so many people away from the polls on election day. I know you are just one person. But your one vote matters.

Those votes add up over time — Walmart, one of the biggest companies in the United States, listened to their customers and stopped getting their store brand milk from  cows treated with growth hormones. Also, for quite a while, I’ve been buying more expensive, name-brand all purpose flour when I go to Walmart, because I want the unbleached kind. And now? I found store-brand unbleached flour at my Walmart just the other day. I couldn’t have been the only one, but I like to think I contributed to Walmart producing that flour and stocking it at my store by spending my money the way I did.

The way you spend your money really does matter. Moreover, the beauty of voting with your wallet is that you don’t just get one vote every four years. You get as many votes as there are dollars in your bank account, and you get to choose every single day where to cast those votes.

So, were you unhappy with how the election went yesterday (at any level of government)? Don’t sit around and complain about it. Use your purchasing power to advocate for the changes you want to see in your community, state, or the nation. 

Here are a few ideas of how you can do that:

  1. Shop at businesses whose stance on moral issues lines up with yours

    Do you support Hobby Lobby’s stance on birth control? Then shop there. Do you like that Chick-Fil-A is closed on Sundays? Eat there (but not on Sunday, which is when I always think of it).

  2. Purchase products with a mission

    I already talked about why I buy fair trade chocolate. I also try to buy only fair trade coffee. I have friends who make a point to buy products that are helping women escape trafficking. You can support causes like these by finding and buying products whose supply chain or profits are about more than a bottom line.

    Do you wish some organic farming bill had passed in your state? Then buy organic products. Do you wish the US was doing more to end poverty in foreign countries? Then buy from companies who are working to do just that.

  3. Buy local

    This is very important, especially if you were disappointed about the results of your local election. If a local tax measure you supported failed, one way to fight back is by spending as much as you can at local businesses. Those dollars feed right back into your own community and are more likely to trickle down to places that need them, like your schools or your libraries.

  4. Give liberally to causes you believe in.

    The church we pastored for almost four years was absolutely passionate about missions. How do I know? Because the people gave way beyond what is typically expected for a church of that size to be able to do. Our people gave to meet all kinds of needs, from impoverished kids in our own community to a family going to the far corners of the earth to tell people about Jesus, and their generosity always made Jason and me so proud and humbled to be their pastors.

    Jesus himself talks about the importance of being willing to give whatever you have, whether it’s a lot or a little, for the sake of the kingdom of God. In Matthew 13:44 he says, “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.”

    I want to be the person who is willing to sell everything to gain Jesus. Don’t you?

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