Ways to exercise your consumer power without being Richie Rich

Since we have approximately $4 of spending money each month, I've had to get creative about Taking a Stand. Here are just a few ideas for making a statement with your wallet, even if there's almost nothing in it.

Cut back on meat so you can buy from farmers. Sure truly free-range chickens and pasture-fed beef are twice as expensive as the mystery meats you can buy in the grocery. But if you go vegetarian a bit more often, you can afford to support local farmers who raise and treat their animals humanely and safely.

Makeup with a conscience. I must admit the majority of my makeup comes from the drugstore (I use Bare Escentuals for foundation, which is a good choice for many reasons). But! Companies like Revlon and Almay offer some great products and don't do animal testing to boot.

Compromise where it counts. When your budget is a shoestring, buying from artisans and boutique businesses isn't always an option. But even big box stores like Target and Walmart offer things like organic cotton textiles and really cool, safe kids toys made from organic, renewable materials. You just have to do a little research, which doesn't cost a dime.

Think outside the recycle bin. Hello, Craigslist! Goodwill, you're a doll! A lot of our furniture has been quality hand-me-downs or low-cost used purchases that we've refurbished to freshen up and match to our style. In fact, I just inherited my grandparents' original solid maple bedroom suite, which I refinished for less than 10 bucks (using Cabot Polystain). With a few new drawer pulls from Lowe's, the set looks like the Pottery Barn Printer's collection—only it's higher quality, antique, and has sentimental value. Score!

Do you guys have any tips or tricks for flexing your consumer dollars, few though they may be?

Posted by Erin of The Fierce Beagle


nikki said...

Craigslist, Freecycle and thrift stores are an absolute must in our house, particularly with a kid who's growing fast. Most of my books are either library books, from used book stores, papaerbackswap, or I borrow from friends and family.

My kid has never been to Chuck E Cheese, but has been to nearly every park in our county. He's only been to the movies once, but he has been several times to the Smithsonian Natural History Museum. Parks and Smithsonian museums? Totally free.

When I need my hair trimmed, I go to the beauty school. I only use the real salon for actual changes in hair style, which I only do about once every three or four years anyway.

magnolia said...

when i moved back to a city, i knew i'd be, to put a fine point on it, broke as hell. i'm a student, too, so i get my living money in lump sums twice a year. what i do is look at all six months of the semester, subtract out rent and utilities, then make any major purchase i need at the very beginning. from that point on, i know exactly how much money i have to deal with and can parcel it out accordingly.

i can't wait to be done with school and earning money again.

stephanie said...

handmade is expensive...but i would give you a deal :) thanks for the tips - i'm looking for ways to chop our budget to pay for some classes i want to take & pay off some stupid loans.

Suniverse said...

I tend to get things from my mom, who has Hoarder leanings. Cloth napkins are also a must.

Anonymous said...

I get most of my books and decorations and what not from thrift stores. My friend buys all her clothes there. They can be cheap and you can find some amazing deals. Try Goodwill for sure. My advice though is to try all the ones around your house first. Some may be more expensive and some may have better stuff. You just have to look around.

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