What does the phrase “vote with your money” mean? Let’s have a look at how to understand this phrase, what you can do, and some recent examples of the impact it can have.
Let’s say you’re out and you want to buy a cup of coffee. You can go to the place whose coffee you like the best, the nearest place, the place where you know the staff, or the place that’s the cheapest. These are all choices you can make in how to spend your money, and maybe you’ll make different choices depending on your own circumstances or the circumstances of that specific moment. You might also choose not to go somewhere because you don’t want to support that particular company, and choose to go to an independent coffeeshop or cafe instead.
These choices will lead you to spend your money with one place over another. And a cup of coffee is just a small example, but every purchase either contributes to a company or not. There is power in buying from a company, as well as choosing not to spend your money there. Every penny can support or boycott.
The phrase “vote with your money” therefore encourages you to think of your money as votes: who do you vote for with your money? We can’t always make the perfect choice when we’re put on the spot: it would be very hard to research which coffee shop to purchase from if you’re on holiday somewhere and all you fancy is a drink! And it can turn into anxiety over doing the right thing to: you could spend hours researching where to buy a new moisturiser from. It can most definitely take the joy out of things and lead to overanalysing, anxious thoughts about doing the wrong thing and carrying the responsibility of a worldwide problem on your own shoulders.
Here are some easy ways to think about “voting with your money”
- Find a company you like rather than a specific product. Have you found an online shop you like the ethos of that sells beauty products? Order all your need from them, instead of ordering products from separate shops.
- Find a brand that supports a cause you care about and make that brand your go-to.
- Have you found an independent cafe that you love supporting because you know the owners? Go there for your cafe trips, whether it’s a drink or a meeting or a snack. Maybe they do catering and you could hire them for an event at work?
- Find an independent retailer you like and check them first for something you might want to buy. Do you support a lovely independent maker and you need a gift for family or friends? Why not check there first before even looking elsewhere?
- If it’s important to you that, say, a product hasn’t been tested on animals, why not find a brand that doesn’t do animal testing and buy from them? Then you don’t have to bother even looking at other brands and you can shop from them as you would from any other shop.
- Think about who benefits from a sale. Can you buy a book directly from the author? Or can you find the book in a local or independent bookshop? When you buy from massive companies it’s really difficult to know where your money goes. This also goes for the type of product you’re buying. If you are buying a baby product, why not buy from a parent? If you are buying a book on black history, why not buy from a black owned shop? If you are looking for a freelancer for your website on female entrepreneurship, why not hire a female freelancer?
- Is there a way that your food shop can benefit the people who grew it directly, rather than the supermarket?
- Buy less instead of buying conveniently. This will also help if you are worried about the cost of something. Maybe the coffee from your local neighbourhood cafe is a bit more expensive than the chain coffeeshop on the high street? This worries many of us. Think quality over quantity. Or, buy coffee from a brand you support and simply make your coffee at home. There is different ways to approach this.
- We obviously support shopping small over big companies! Shop with us and our colleagues and you directly benefit us, our livelihoods, and our families. No dodgy shareholders or director bonuses here. In return you will also get friendly customer service, great advice and a more personal approach!
Convenience and low cost is something that has snuck into our daily lives over the past fifty years. Everything is marketed and manufactured for us to buy more, buy cheap and buy conveniently. So if it feels like ‘a lot of effort’ to do any of the above, that’s understandable! Many of us are not used to this way of buying anymore. But if you want something to change, it will only change if there is no more demand for it anymore. If no one buys from a massive, exploitative corporation, they can’t keep up their production. The customers’ money has spoken! We have seen this highlighted during the Covid-19 pandemic with fast fashion brands canceling orders because they are not selling as much (for more information on this, you can search for Pay Up online).
Another recent example is a new initiative called Black Pound Day, a UK initiative to encourage customers to buy from black owned businesses, in an effort to redistribute which brands, companies and services profit from the consumer economy.
So vote with your money and buy smart!