A Different Way of Looking at Spending?

by J. Money - Published April 10, 2017

green heart

I’ve been trying something new lately where every time I have to spend money on something – whether a need or a want – I try to look at it as I’m “supporting” the place my money’s going to vs. “I’m spending my hard earned money” there.

The effect to my wallet usually remains the same, but what I’ve noticed is that I’m starting to appreciate these transactions a lot more, and not only that – but in some cases even enjoying it!

A great example of this was the other week when it was time to pay dues at our local coin club. The membership fees are literally only like $12/year (or $1.00/month), but we were starting a new *lifetime membership* option where for a one-time fee of $150.00 you could actually become a member for life.

Now, $12 and $150 are drastically different paying attention to price alone, but what I noticed was that a number of people started whipping out their checkbooks right there on the spot for these new memberships. The same people who graciously donate coins to our monthly door prizes, or who volunteer their time and expertise to present to us throughout the year. To them, it wasn’t about the “cost”, but more about the love of the hobby and wanting to support it however they can.

That night 4 people became lifetime members on the spot, including myself :)

(Of course later I ran the numbers to see where the break-even point was because we’re nerds like that (12 1/2 years), but whether I attend the meetings for that long or not, I felt proud to support something I believe in too. I doubt that would have happened had I not consciously changed my thinking.)

This works in other areas too:

  • $5.00 for coffee? Your baristas thank you for giving them a job!
  • $75.00 for groceries? Way to help the cashiers, managers, night stockers, and even cleaning crews
  • $100.00 for insurance? Thanks for protecting my family and finances, insurance company!
  • $875.00/paycheck for taxes? God bless America and our roads, schools, libraries, outreach programs, and the men and women who protect our laws and safety every day

In all cases they’re still normal expenses, but thinking of them in terms of how they provide for others or society ON TOP of it is a pretty powerful (and often overlooked) feeling. Not unlike the concept of “voting with your dollars” by shopping at the places/stores/services that match your values, and staying away from those which do not.

It’s spending, but it’s also very much supporting.

This new mentality has also affected the way I give back too. I started thinking about all the other hobbies or organizations I could be supporting more just like with the coin club, and came up with three of them right off the bat:

  1. The Sundara Fund – I’ve loved this organization since the moment I learned of it two years ago (they recycle gently used soaps that the hospitality industry throws away every single day and re-uses them to prevent disease and death among kids in poverty-deep countries), and realized the last time I donated to them was almost just as long ago.
  2. 516 Project – A newer project launched by a friend of mine who goes around fixing up old and broken down homes of those who can’t afford to have them fixed themselves. I gave to them the day they launched and then promptly forgot.
  3. And then there’s our very own Rockstar Community Fund – where I initially funded it with $500 to get it going and help spread the GOOD around our community, but have since stopped contributing financially purely out of forgetfulness. And this is my own project!! (Of course, I spend gobs of *time* towards it which is worth much more than any donation (or else it wouldn’t exist! haha…) but financially speaking specifically, I was still slacking)

I went back to that same “lifetime membership” concept and decided to give $20/mo to each of these organizations. All very much new “expenses” to me, however when looked at in the light of “support” shines much differently.

And I’m actually pretty embarrassed that I didn’t think of it earlier?! Of course I should have made it automatic to make sure my money was going where I wanted it to!! That’s Personal Finance 101! :) Despite the disconnect though, it’s already feeling worlds better now, and I’m already looking for more places to pledge my support to so I can make it an even $100/mo across the board.

We’ll see what the future holds with this new thought experiment, but I wanted to share it with you while it was hot on the brain and my encouragement levels sky high, haha… Maybe you already think of your money as voting dollars and supporting your community, I don’t know, but the more ways we can feel empowered by our spending, the better.

Give it a shot today while you’re out running your errands or picking up food/paying the bills, etc, and then come back and let us know how it felt.

Think about everyone you’re supporting with each transaction you make, and see if it changes anything. You’re already going to spend the money, might as well feel better about it! :)

I’ll follow up after a few more months as well…

****
PS: For all those who missed last month’s batch of #GivingCards through our Community Fund, we’re giving out another twenty-five $20 cards right now for anyone who still wants to participate. All you have to do is use it for GOOD! And I guarantee you’ll enjoy spending that money too :) Sign up for one here.

[Heart photo by Oleksii Schastlyvyi]

Jay loves talking about money, experimenting, blasting hip-hop, and hanging out with his two beautiful boys. You can check out all of his online projects at jmoney.biz. Thanks for reading the blog!

{ 60 comments… read them below or add one }

1 CentsOK April 10, 2017 at 6:29 am

Great topic J$!

It’s easy to find an article promoting “10% of your salary should go to charity” – but it seems many of us (myself included) fall into the trap of putting this in the expense category. And we all know what we like to do with our expenses ;)

Taking a step back and thinking of these as supporting our favorite charities or business may be good for all of us.

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2 J. Money April 10, 2017 at 7:02 am

Haha yup! “Expenses” = the devil :) We’ll have to come up with a better term for this type of spending… Karma Bank? “I didn’t spend $100 this month, I deposited it into the Karma Bank!”

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3 Ms. Frugal Asian Finance April 10, 2017 at 11:41 am

I think you made a great point. We usually put charity contributions into the Expenses column because it’s a subtraction from our income and it doesn’t generate any interest. But there are great things in life that don’t have any obvious financial value attached to them right at the moment.

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4 CentsOK April 11, 2017 at 10:21 pm

I completely agree with both of these! I like the Karma Bank terminology for sure!

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5 J. Money April 12, 2017 at 9:39 am

:)

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6 Mustard Seed Money April 10, 2017 at 6:53 am

This is an awesome way to think about things. I honestly don’t think all the time of the service aspect as much as the consumable in terms of value. But I will definitely have my eyes open this week as I think about the people behind the product. Thanks for sharing!!!

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7 J. Money April 10, 2017 at 7:06 am

Yeah, try it today when you’re out and about! Pay attention to the way it makes you feel :)

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8 Manuel Schulze April 10, 2017 at 7:10 am

Sounds great! But also a little dangerous. ‘I support McDonald’s twice a week, and Netflix monthly…and all clothing shops I like…and my favorite car manufacturer every year…and…’. But if you stick to the frugal mentality it is really worth a try.

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9 J. Money April 10, 2017 at 11:20 am

Haha, true true…

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10 Band of Savers April 10, 2017 at 7:20 am

Sometimes its amazing the difference that a change in attitude can make. I’m not naturally a “glass is half full” type of people but I do appreciate the positive effects that can come into all aspects of your life by teaching yourself to be more positive. Thanks for some insights on how to look at the purchases that we make in a more positive way.

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11 Kalie @ Pretend to Be Poor April 10, 2017 at 8:20 am

This is a great way to view spending, and very helpful. I know it has actually changed my spending habits. For example, I’m much less likely to buy new, cheaply made clothing because I don’t want to support all the poor social and environmental practices behind the flash fashion industry.

My husband printed off the summary our where our property taxes go and posted it on the fridge a few months ago. I’ve since taken it down since it’s not exactly a good decoration, but it was very informative and helpful especially approaching election time. It definitely got me thinking about what I want to support and just how much that costs.

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12 J. Money April 10, 2017 at 11:21 am

Interesting!

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13 Mr Crazy Kicks April 10, 2017 at 9:00 am

Thinking like this is what drives me to spend more, but in a good way :) Having my own chickens and garden helps me appreciate the hard work that goes into producing fresh food locally. Even though it costs a bit more, we like to buy a lot of our food from our local farmers market.

It’s one where all the vendors are required to have to participated in growing/raising the food. This means they are all local farmers. I’m happy to help give summer jobs to the college kids in the area, and help the farmers maintain a more steady income. It’s been rewarding to see the local farms growing and spreading. It also doesn’t hurt that with all these awesome ingredients we get to eat like kings :)

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14 J. Money April 10, 2017 at 11:21 am

I imagine so!! I’m still waiting for my dinner invite *ahem*.

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15 Mr Crazy Kicks April 10, 2017 at 11:39 am

It’s an open invite. I also have some coins for you to check out ;)

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16 J. Money April 12, 2017 at 9:39 am

*Packs bags and jumps into car*

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17 Paul April 10, 2017 at 9:08 am

I tend to think this way about locally owned and run businesses, it does take the sting out of spending the extra 5-10% over big business. I also think people have to be careful not to talk themselves into/rationalize unnecessary purchases doing this.

I’ll never think that way about taxes…large scale legalized theft is how I think of it. Especially for those of us who are self employed.

Here is one more, health care. Sorry, but no. Everything about this is a no.

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18 Brian April 10, 2017 at 9:15 am

Great way to think about our transactions J$. Adds the personal level. It may even shift were you spend your money to more local. Happy Monday!

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19 Mike April 10, 2017 at 9:26 am

That is a great way to look at your spending, especially if you are shopping to support a small business. There’s a small store in my neighborhood where the prices might be a dollar or two more than I’d spend if I went to the mega-retail chain but it does make me feel good to support a local business and family.

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20 J. Money April 10, 2017 at 11:24 am

Yup – def. applies to local businesses :)

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21 Mrs. Groovy April 10, 2017 at 9:36 am

Nice mind shift! I think this way about my overdue library books. I’m in no rush to return them because I want to support my local library. I also extend this attitude toward the cat sitting expenses we accrue. We’re helping a local business owner, as well as the individual sitters who make a living giving love to our pet.

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22 J. Money April 10, 2017 at 11:24 am

So YOU’RE the one holding up my books!!! ;)

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23 Mike B. April 10, 2017 at 1:16 pm

Wow, good one! Was thinking of implementing this same strategy myself recently; as the stack of library books taken out is steadily growing. But now, even less rush to speed through them all because of the “supporting local” mentality. It’s like a donation to the library.

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24 J. Money April 12, 2017 at 9:51 am

I’m wondering if the fees do outweigh the work/loss of books though? I’d imagine it takes some time to fetch new ones, label them all, get them into the system, etc? Maybe not – who knows – but I do know that if everyone did this there would be no books to check out :)

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25 Carrie Willard April 10, 2017 at 9:59 am

I have heard of people doing this as a sort of gratitude exercise when they pay bills. Instead of dreading the money going out, they say things like, “I’m so grateful for this mortgage that allows me to keep my family warm and safe.”. That kind of thing. I think it’s a great idea to take a moment to acknowledge how well we have it.

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26 J. Money April 10, 2017 at 11:26 am

YESS!! LOVE!!!

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27 Mrs. Picky Pincher April 10, 2017 at 10:06 am

Yup! Mr. Picky Pincher and I call this “voting with our money.” In addition to supporting people’s livelihoods, I also think about purchases from a moral standpoint. For example, I just bought a cheap dress off Amazon that I’m 80% sure was made in a sweatshop after looking at it. I was horrified that my money supported this business.

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28 Miss Mazuma April 10, 2017 at 10:22 am

How interesting what a change in perspective will do for you! I am currently researching our May trip to Cuba and was going down the line of visas to see which one fit our trip. I originally chose People to People thinking we would learn a lot about the culture and what not but when my eyes fell upon Support of the Cuban People I knew I had found the correct visa. Of course, we are hoping to learn a lot about the culture from the people, but we also want to help support the culture not only with money but with supplies. We decided to bring a bunch of school supplies for the kids at a local grade school (haven’t picked one yet!). I am so excited to go on this trip but more so now because it has an actual purpose. I literally just bought the visas a minute before reading this post so it seems our supportive ways are simpatico today. :)

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29 Amy @ Life Zemplified April 10, 2017 at 10:36 am

That’s great Miss Mazuma! Having a purpose is so powerful.

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30 J. Money April 12, 2017 at 9:55 am

WOW!!!! SO COOOL!!! That’s going to be an amazing adventure!

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31 Amy @ Life Zemplified April 10, 2017 at 10:40 am

Such an awesome way to look at spending. The automatic donation to Rockstar Fund every month gives me a big smile, and I love to read what the community does with the cards.

Now if they would fix the roads in Michigan that they keep adding and adding taxes on us for I’d really be happy with that spending. :)

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32 J. Money April 12, 2017 at 9:57 am

Wouldn’t that be nice :)

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33 Jax April 10, 2017 at 10:50 am

I think this is brilliant thinking when it comes to giving, and also when deciding on planned purchases. It is dangerous when you use this thinking (like I frequently do) to justify more extravagant spending. “It’s okay to eat out if the money stays in the local economy”-that may be true, but only if you should be spending money on eating out in the first place. This post is a great reminder to be more intentional with my finances.

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34 J. Money April 12, 2017 at 9:59 am

For sure. It’s always about being more conscious with your money no matter where (or how much) it’s going.

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35 The Luxe Strategist April 10, 2017 at 11:09 am

HEY. I have this pet peeve that everyone thinks you buy clothes because you want a status symbol. For some people, it’s about appreciating the thought, time and craftsmanship into designing and creating a garment. Like “voting” with dollars, for me, it’s the same with clothes. If I’m buying a designer’s stuff it’s because I’m buying into their “point of view”. I much rather value a designer who’s creating something new than buying a straight-up knock off from some mass-market store. That’s my two cents :)

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36 J. Money April 12, 2017 at 10:01 am

Hey, I can get down with that! It’s the same view I’m now having with luxury cars… Ever since picking up our Lexus I’m realizing what a world of difference it is in terms of comfortability, and really just *quality*. Never again will I assume people just buy them to show off! (Though there will always be those who do…)

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37 Brittany @ Tiny Ambitions April 10, 2017 at 11:44 am

What a great perspective shift! I’ve been struggling with one recurring donation every month – but framing it in terms of who I am helping will definitely change my mindset for the better!

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38 J. Money April 12, 2017 at 10:03 am

And remember too that giving *anything* is better than nothing too. So always be proud of what you are able to contribute and know you’re DOING GOOD even if you’re not feeling it some days!

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39 Alexander @ Cash Flow Diaries April 10, 2017 at 1:54 pm

Indeed its mind set when it comes to just finances in general. I like the idea of supporting others when spending money though. The world needs us to spend money otherwise it will fall apart. :)

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40 J. Money April 12, 2017 at 10:03 am

It’s a good thing we let most others do the spending too :)

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41 Chris April 10, 2017 at 2:25 pm

Hell yeah! I had a similar experience on Saturday. I came upon $1200 for winning my NCAA Tournament player pool. Instead of responsibly sticking it into my VTSAX, I decided to do something for myself and splurge on a mountain bike ($1000 max). I checked online, asked friends for advice, and went to a few local shops for test rides.
I came to find out that the owner of the bike shop closest to our house is a great dude who does all kinds of good for the community. He donates bikes to kids in need, his wife runs a non-profit, etc.
I ended up spending $1002.85 on a 2017 Giant Fathom II on Saturday. Before going into the store, I was leaning toward buying something a few levels lower for half the price, and doing it through Craigslist. But after talking to the owner, and realizing why everyone speaks so highly of him, I gladly bought the best bike I could buy from him within my budget. The whole thing felt good on every level! I got a good bike AND I supported a local business AND I established a relationship with the owner of that business that will be helpful for the rest of my bike-riding days.
Thanks for sharing your experience, because I think the monetary transaction in these instances is paltry compared to the overall value.
Cheers!

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42 J. Money April 12, 2017 at 10:07 am

Beautiful!!! I’m all about treating yourself too when you’ve got a good system down already. And especially with *extra* money! Sounds like you’re going to have a ton of fun in your future :)

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43 DJ @1000WaysToSave April 10, 2017 at 7:43 pm

Great perspective to have on your spending habits. I like to think I’m supporting the community every time I buy something locally at a farmers market or a nearby restaurant. I don’t really mind spending a few extra bucks when I know its going to a good cause.

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44 Dividend Diplomats April 10, 2017 at 7:51 pm

Budgets –

Love the article and is actually one of the reasons why I go to quite a few local places around northeast ohio – supporting local grown businesses and individuals pushing their dream. Great share.

-Lanny

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45 The Deliberate Lifestyle April 10, 2017 at 9:14 pm

Great stuff, J! Found myself smiling and grinning throughout the read. Nice reminder that spending money isn’t intrinsically a negative. Being deliberate with spending very much includes acknowledging the party on the other end of the transaction.

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46 J. Money April 12, 2017 at 10:12 am

Glad you enjoyed, brotha :)

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47 gfaseed April 11, 2017 at 1:52 am

Great topic. Great attitude!
Keep up the good work of inspiring us all.

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48 Primal Prosperity April 11, 2017 at 9:53 am

Great idea!

I love the concept of the 516 project. Down the road, when my husband and I do some extended travel, we would like to be able to give our space (for free rent) to a person or family in need, such as a family who is living in the area because they have a sick child at the hospital…. or something like that.

I also have to say that what is cool about donating to the RCF is that the founders (you and Nate), directly thank the giver! That is so much cooler than just a form letter that says: “Thank you for your donation.” :) I think giving where I can actually see/hear/read where the money is going makes it even more impactful.

Besides donating, I also will spend more money on food and other items to support local, sustainable, responsible, etc…

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49 J. Money April 12, 2017 at 10:14 am

Hey thanks!! The project is super close to us, so we’re always trying to keep it as real and personal as possible. Though of course we slip up from time to time :)

I love your idea about donating your place to others when you’re out traveling the world. I bet it would be easier to understand/do too since you live in a hotel! :)

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50 Lisa April 11, 2017 at 12:10 pm

This is such a great idea! Also, sounds like a unique twist to a gratitude journal.

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51 Mrs. Need2save April 11, 2017 at 8:07 pm

We dont mind paying a small premium to support local businesses when we can. It just feels better than buying from the big national players. But the big guys provide jobs too. We will also drive a little further to support our home town shops even if we pass alternatives on the way home from another direction. With respect to charities, we try to balance local with global as well. We may be the richest nation, but there is still plenty of need in the US too!

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52 J. Money April 12, 2017 at 10:15 am

Damn straight on that one.

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53 Debbie April 12, 2017 at 6:02 am

I actually have been viewing it this way for a few years. I leave higher tips at restaurants (left a $5 tip on a $15 tab), etc because I know many servers are trying to get thru college with big expenses or perhaps the server is a single mother. I also buy fresh produce at our local farmers market & support many small local groups (garden club is having a sale next week to raise $$ for a college scholarship so I’ll buy a plant), etc. A little good will can go a long way. That local restaurant gave me a free “to go” drink the last time I was there!

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54 J. Money April 12, 2017 at 10:16 am

I need to be better about that with tipping. I ALWAYS look at it as an expense-expense, and tend to forget about who it’s actually going to at the end of the day. Thanks for the reminder!

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55 Patty April 16, 2017 at 6:10 am

Just remember to do a bit of research on any charities. I recently tried donating a car to several, and after researching exactly how the monies would be disbursed, I was shocked to read how many administrators were paid absorbable amounts of the profits. If I’m donating money, I want the majority of $ going to That cause.

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56 [email protected] April 18, 2017 at 4:03 am

It’s truly important for us to drive our hard-earned money through channels that help us and others in various ways. We can’t just donate and sit back. We have to make sure that our funds are being utilized in a proper manner, especially when I’m following a strict budget to add more to my savings.

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57 kj April 18, 2017 at 11:13 am

What is this “coin club” of which you speak?

Can you please explain?

Thanks & keep up the good work.

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58 J. Money April 23, 2017 at 3:03 pm

Coin clubs are monthly meet-ups in your area where coin/currency collectors (known as “Numismatists”) come together and hang out :) Usually includes a presentation of some sort or an auction that benefits the club and the members buying/selling their coins.

If you’re at all interested in coin collecting I highly advise you check to see where the closest one in your area is! It’s pretty fun (and a nice break from the hustle and bustle of life too…)

There’s also some coin blogs and forums online as well where you can learn a lot – here’s mine though I’m bad at updating it: http://cointhrill.com

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59 ZJ Thorne June 15, 2017 at 12:27 am

I definitely think this way. My area of town is pretty anti-development and was aghast when a Starbucks went in. I saw 20+ jobs for people and the ability to walk in to a lit building later at night if I felt that a person following me was a little too interested in me. I’ll gladly pay my $2.15 for that privilege.

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60 J. Money June 15, 2017 at 4:31 pm

Good idea!

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