How much value is your money worth? You decide.

A friend and I were discussing shopping, and how easy it is to spend money in certain stores. Wal-Mart was one such store that came up, and my friend mentioned that because the food they sell is so cheap, it’s easy to buy a lot of it. I agree in theory, but not in practice. It made me think of why I don’t buy at Big Box Stores if I can avoid it.

The brand of food and product they provide at Wal-Mart (or any other department/Big Box store) may be the same with cheaper prices, but what goes into making that price lower? Where do the corporations make their money if they are lowering the prices of products that are normally more expensive?

Consider this: your money is a handful of voting ballots. Every time you purchase something, you are voting with that money. When you buy at a local store, you are voting that is it in that store that you place your faith, your trust, your loyalty. You support them silently by purchasing their products.

At the same time, when you purchase an item at a Wal-Mart or other Big Box Store, you are voting. Only you are voting for poor working conditions, poorly treated employees, and cheap products. The price of the product is knocked down because the large store is willing to sacrifice quality of working environment to pad their bottom line. The appeal is in the small price, especially when the small print is hidden.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user striatic
So the argument that the brand name may be the same becomes relatively irrelevant. It becomes a new argument of what kind of service industry and quality in environment do you want to support?

It becomes making sure that you know where that money is going. It comes down to where you would put your money if you weren’t getting anything out of it. Would you donate money to a Big Box corporation that spits out poorly made toxic toys? Or would you rather donate money to a small industry or store that makes sturdy, dependable toys made of real natural materials?

How much is your money worth to you? If the answer is still the same, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. But remember that if your personal values are opposed to donating money to the store you just bought your last shirt from, why would you want to support them? If you feel that their working practices aren’t up to your level of value, or their accommodations aren’t up to snuff, take your money elsewhere.

It’s kind of like when you go for a vacation, and you stay at a hotel. If the service you received at the hotel was sub-par, or the accommodations left much to be desired, you probably wouldn’t go back! So when you’re at the mall and you’re trying to decide where to spend your money on things that you want or need, consider which store aligns its values closely with your own.

Your money is worth as much as you decide it is. If you want to get more bang for your buck, consider being willing to spend a little bit of extra to get a higher quality that will last you longer. If you want to support fair working environments, consider being willing to spend more at the cash register so that the employees will be provided better benefits, salary, compensation. Consider buying fairly traded products when possible to help not only those in your community, but across the globe as well.

We are all humans, and we all deserve a chance to live a fulfilling life. By voting with your dollar, you show the corporations and the government and the small business industry what you think is important, what you think of as quality, and what you think is worth spending your hard-earned money on.

Whoever you do choose to spend your money on, and whichever store or industry you support, just be confident and sure that it aligns with what you see as right. Integrity above all else, so be what you are and act based on your own values. Make conscious decisions, and informed decisions. Spend and act in ways that coincide with your beliefs instead of oppose them.

You may not think that you can make a difference. But you can. One person is all it takes to start a change. Talk about what is important to you. Discuss with family and friends what values you want to see in the food industry, service industry, everywhere. Expect quality, and don’t settle for less than you’re worth. It may be hard at first to find places that meet your expectations, but as demand rises so will supply.

Patience and integrity will carry you through. Decide and stand strong on what is important to you and what values you want to support. Then do it, one purchase at a time.

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