Every Cent Counts

Every Cent CountsPennies matter more than you know. In the world of personal finance, we often focus on ourselves — our saving, our spending, our investing. It makes perfect sense. It’s what puts the personal in personal finance. Still, how we spend our money has far-reaching consequences that are easy to overlook during a time of year where limited time deals and flash sales fan the flames of consumerism.

How You Want Others to Be Treated

There has been much ado about Walmart in the news over the past year. After years of criticism for employment practices, they are now at the epicenter of the minimum wage movement with a #Fastfor15 fifteen-day fast ending on Black Friday. I have often heard friends lament minimum wage, yet these same friends are the first to stand in line for Black Friday doorbusters at Walmart. Scruples don’t always stand up in the face of sale ads. Regardless of your stance on Walmart, every dollar you spend at any store is a vote in favor of their employment, sourcing, environmental, and animal-cruelty policies. While I may not be the perfect shopper, I try to be mindful of more than just the sale price when making my purchases.

What You Want to Consume More Of 

When I worked on slashing my grocery budget to $200 a month, it was easy to put organic foods on the chopping block. I resisted. Not only am I willing to pay a bit more for organic and all-natural foods for dietary reasons, but I also know that the more stores sell these types of items, the more likely they are to continue stocking the items and add more options. What started on a very small scale in most Aldi stores has grown to span almost an entire aisle now that Aldi realizes that shoppers want organic and natural food options. The same is true for Costco, who now outpaces Whole Foods as an organic-food retailer. If more people choose to spend their dollars this way, it should become clear to stores that customers want more healthful options at more affordable prices.

There are many considerations to take into account this holiday season. It’s a given that more than just Santa will be making lists and checking them twice. As you consider your budget, consult sale ads, and make your shopping lists, be mindful of your pennies and the impact they will make.

So Tell Me…How do you make your pennies count? Are there any products or stores that have earned your loyalty?


Every Cent Counts

14 thoughts on “Every Cent Counts

  1. Another great post Penny! Our spending as votes toward a company is an important idea. Your article brought to mind all of the fast-fashion brands as well. Many of use love a deal, but keep a blind eye to how that deal came to be. It’s not always easy, but like most things in life, we can always strive for balance. Cheers!

  2. I am generally willing to spend more money for exceptionally healthy food. I wasn’t always, but my priorities changed when we had kids. Now I am prone to buy fresh fruit that isn’t even on sale every once in a while!

  3. I have a long history of buying products I love and watching them get discontinued…favorite shows cancelled…favorite restaurants closed…politicians I vote for losing, etc. I guess that’s just the price I pay for being the strange and unique person I am 🙂

    I do think that your Walmart example is a good one. A lot of people who decry Walmart’s practices or talk about sweatshop-made clothing don’t connect their opinions to their buying choices. It’s easy to ignore that we’re part of the problem when we make choices that support, if not encourage, business practices that ignore a lot of the stakeholders when we just want to pay less for our stuff.

    I try not to go to Walmart often, but that doesn’t mean I don’t ever go there. I know i should shop local but order off Amazon. I don’t hit the farmer’s markets as often as I should. Convenience and cost so often become the excuse for my not being a thoughtful consumer.

  4. Oh yes! Every time Costco carries something we want, we stock up, both because we’re worried they’ll run out and because we want to tell them to keep up the good work. (In Alaska, it’s very vital good things are carried by Costco!) Anna Lappe — ‘Every time you spend money, you’re casting a vote for the kind of world you want.’

  5. This is right in line with our post from Monday — valuing things other than just the lowest price. It’s why we refuse to shop at Walmart and most other discount retailers, because they treat their employees like crap, they force producers to use the worst environmental and labor standards, and most of what they sell is junk that breaks in no time anyway. Costco and Aldi (and even Walmart!) offering more organics is a sign that we *do* vote with our dollars, and we choose to use our votes with companies that are more ethical all around. Thanks for writing this!

  6. I’m a big fan of Aldi, Penny. The food is good and inexpensive, and any item that goes bad may be returned no questions asked. You can even return a can of beans if you don’t like the taste. And Aldi pays their employees well which accounts for very low turnover at the two stores in my neighborhood. I like seeing the same friendly faces where I shop.

  7. Ah yes! I cannot believe how true that every dollar spent casts a vote towards a company’s values & actions. Oftentimes we attempt our best to buy local, because they way our money is going back towards employing the people of our city & fueling our community’s economy. Sometimes this means potentially paying more – but often the price & pennies are spent with gratitude.

  8. Have you read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver? It’s the story of the year she and her family committed to buying only local foods, including foods they had grown/raised themselves. It’s super well-written (I mean, it’s Barbara Kingsolver) and had a big impact on me. Not that I actually buy all local foods by any means, but it just made me think a lot about what it means to vote with my dollar and why that’s important. On a related note, I split a CSA with some friends this past summer/fall, which was awesome. I still can’t figure out if it saved me money or not, but it was really exciting to see what would be in the box each week, and it felt good to support a local-ish farm.

  9. We avoid shopping at Walmart. Deals are great, but you could also view it as paying the extra money in the taxes that go to the welfare their employees need.

    But yeah, we try to vote with our dollars, now that we can afford to. I don’t begrudge people who need those prices — or even people who just really want them. That said, if I heard a Walmart shopper venting about how Walmart treats its employees… I might make an observation.

  10. I tend to stay away from organic food because in all honesty, I cannot confirm whether the extra price I am paying is for a food item that is truly organic. There isn’t really a way to tell as a consumer, unless I send the food or vegetable for testing. I do, however, try to focus on regular vegetables and fruits (regardless of price) as much as I can, though I have always been more of a meat lover!

  11. We love Costco both for the great deals and the way it treats its employees well. It’s nice to see the same faces there now as when we moved here six years ago.

    We also like brands that hold up over time, but these are often pricey so we buy them used on EBay and 1) save money and 2) reduce resource use/waste.

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