I grew up on the Southside of Chicago. If I wanted to go somewhere or get something, it was never a big issue. It would be somewhere nearby. Somewhere in my community. Whether it was in my own little suburb, or in the suburb across the street. I didn't care where it came from, as along as it was available.
At one point, my town put up these banners on the light poles. They expressed the need to shop in our neighborhood. My dad, a business owner, was a big supporter of this. I remember for Christmas shopping he would take my sister and I to the stores we normally would never go to, but they were in our town, so that was where he wanted to go. I never understood why it was such a big deal to buy a sweater for Mom at the mall in our town as opposed to the mall in the next suburb over. Who cared as long as we got the sweater, right?
Now, I live in a small town in Missouri. One thing I've learned about small towns - you get to know people and connections are everywhere. Many of the people in the congregation I serve are business owners. One of the theatre groups I am a part of rehearses and performs at a local historical bar and restaurant.
In fact, last year a friend of mine from Chicago came to see me in one of those plays. I told her about the history of the bar and she fell in love with it. She told me how much she wished there were places like that where we were from.
I think I'm finally getting why shopping local is so important.
Local businesses are part of a towns identity. They give towns their own flavor. They support local organizations. They give people jobs. When you work and shop and eat places locally, you know where your money is going. It keeps the economy going. It's a way we can make a difference every single day. You can make your money matter.
I don't know about you, but I don't always have the money to be able to give to charities and other organizations. As much as I want to try and help other people, I can't always do so financially. I have my own bills and rent to pay. However, I can choose how I make my money matter.
Instead of running over to the mall to get Christmas gifts, I can go to the store my friend opened and find something much more unique and it helps them out. When I'm on the go, instead of stopping at a fast food chain, I can go to the nearby cafe and order something to go.
Because here's the thing: our money matters.
So where are you spending yours?
To learn more, check out makeyourmoneymatter.org.
This post is sponsored by Make Your Money Matter, in association with PSCU, though views expressed are my own.