The Conscious Consumer
Earlier this week, Mr. Frugasaurus and me did something exciting.
We went out and sat our butts down at a cozy, independent and local café.
This café was started after I moved away from Trondheim the first time, and I have been intending to visit it ever since we moved back.
That means I have been intending to visit this place for over 1.5 years, but haven’t! In part because I’m a homebody, but also in part because I lean a bit too far to the cheap side of things, especially since discovering the possibility of financial independence.
So here is why we consider our small splurge a good thing. Even if we could’ve taken that same money and stuffed it in our ever-growing savings accounts.
By supporting local businesses over big chains, you are also investing in your local community. A retail study found that local businesses will, on average, spend more of their wages on other local businesses. They will often also buy supplies from other local vendors.
On average, the study found that when you spend $100 on a local business, $68 of that money stays in the community versus only $48 for a big chain.
If we want cities with personality and a unique vibe, we need to support the small independent businesses that make up that vibe. If we think all the local cafés along the harbour are super cute and adorable and want them to stay, but always go for Starbucks when we are out with friends, then we are not actually putting our money where our mouth is.
If you like something, the best way to support them is to give them your business. That is why, even though we like to support ourselves in the Frugasaurus household, we always try to choose local when we do go out and about on the rare occasion. ‘
That means finding local, skilled craftspeople. Like a goldsmith to fit and engrave our wedding rings, a cobbler to repair our shoes instead of buying new, a watchmaker to repair our clocks, and seeking out local cafés and restaurants when we have friends visiting.
We will freely admit that we are not the best of customers because we like the comforts of home, but we do try to be conscious about our responsibility to our own local community when we are out and about.
Local businesses give back
I mentioned above the statistics related to how a larger percentage of your money stays in your local community if you shop locally, but supporting a local business can mean more than that as well.
In the case of the café I had wanted to visit, it was not just because it was a local business. This particular café ticked all my boxes. It is organic, provide fairtrade coffee, use reclaimed furniture, has many vegan options and they arrange events like seed-swap nights and clothes-swap days for adults and children alike.
In short, they encourage community, sharing and being clever with resources in a way I have never seen any chain business even try to do.
Local businesses will also frequently be hubs for other local businesses. When I enter my favourite zero-waste shop downtown, they always have flyers or business cards of other businesses lying on the counter, be it yoga classes, foraging or cafés like the one I just visited.
These businesses know they are at a disadvantage against larger chains with supplier discounts, so their best bet is to support each other and provide a great and unique experience to their customers.
Of course, this is not me telling you to abandon all your goals and just spend all your money on your local businesses. Your savings/debt repayment/financial security goals should be first, front and center.
But, if you are like me and might skew a bit too far onto the “cheap” side of things, it might be nice to be reminded once in a while about how it is ok to spend a little “unnecessary money” on treats once in a while.
Luckily, we are seeing an increased focus on this on several of the “softer” personal finance blogs. Where you are encouraged not just to pursue financial independence, but also to enjoy your journey while on your way there.
And if I can support a local business owner who is creating jobs for the community while enjoying my way to financial independence? Well, I am certainly all for that.
Over to you
Are local businesses something you actively try to support, or are they just not worth your time? How do you consider the balance between saving for the future and enjoying the present? We’d love to hear your comments!