Voting with your Dollar – Guest Post Tommy Caldwell

Living well is expensive. There are people that will tell you that it isn’t- but as someone who chooses to live well I can assure you it is. It is definitely more expensive than living like crap anyhow. People who face this reality are often looking for a deal. They are looking for ways to make living well more affordable, more sustainable, and more accessible. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but that task is nearly impossible. There is always a way in which you can live better on a budget- but better doesn’t mean best- and right now I am talking about ‘best’.
The good news is that living well and to the best of your ability, whilst expensive, is not impossible for most of the population; at least not for the majority of the population that thinks living the best ‘health life’ possible is out of reach. It is really just a matter of realizing what you truly value in your life and what sort of power you choose to put behind your dollar. You have to ask yourself “what am I voting for”?

The Power of the Dollar

Some people love money, and some think money is evil. Some think we should be able to make as much as we want even at the ‘expense’ of others, and some feel as though wealth should be spread evenly in order to sustain the world’s population. Whether you believe one, the other, or neither, there is one thing that can’t be argued: Where you choose to put your money is a direct correlate with what you value in your life at that moment.
Example- If I claim that I can’t afford to eat organic produce because it’ll cost me an extra $75 per month, yet I pay $50-$100 dollars for cable television, it isn’t really a matter of cost, is it? It is a matter of having a nightly source of entertainment trumping the importance of what I put in my body. I value television over food quality. This is one of many examples that people refuse to face in a realistic manner when it comes to all of life’s values. In most cases it isn’t a matter of affordability- it is a sense of misplaced value and a lie that you tell yourself to justify your poor lifestyle choices. There are of course the populations which truly cannot afford to live well, but that percentage is a massive minority in this country and not the topic of this article. If you are reading this on your laptop via your internet connection that you are using at your job or home- don’t kid yourself into thinking that food accessibility is a matter of money or lack-there-of.

The Greater Importance of Being True to Your Dollar Value

On one level it is important that you understand the value of your purchases because it directly affects your life within a short span of that purchase time. This is what we discussed in the previous paragraph with your purchases being a direct correlate to your value system. On a much deeper level, however, where you put your dollar can affect your entire community and even the entire world.
No company, organization, distributor, or small business produces any products, services, or materials that you aren’t currently voting for. Every time you buy a product that tests on animals, you are voting for animal testing. Every time you buy food that is covered in pesticides you are voting for sprayed foods. Every time you buy a genetically modified product you are voting for GMO’s- you get the idea.
This is exactly what you should be thinking about when you spend your money; what am I voting for and supporting?
And it doesn’t relate strictly to food either. When you watch reality TV every night you are voting for useless entertainment and the dumbing of your society. When you buy 40 video games for your child and allow them to play XBOX for 6 hours a day you are voting to crush the creative potential of budding generations.
I don’t mean to sound judgmental- and I truly am not- but I am trying to stress the importance of choice, value, and what your dollar really says at the core of its purpose. This isn’t about judgment, it is about IMPACT.

Make Life a Series of Votes- Not a Series of Spending

When you can change your mindset and begin to understand the depth at which your choice of spending can affect this world, it becomes much easier to put money in more valuable places. Instead of being just another person caught up in buying more of less, you can become the person who buys less of more. Instead of being the person who shops at Wal-Mart so you can get a lot of crap you really don’t need at an ‘affordable’ price, you can be the person who gets a little less from a small business, but less of what brings you far more ultimate value. You not only get greater quality, greater service, and greater care from supporting places that you can truly value, but you are likely supporting someone who has their heart and soul behind what they are offering to the world- and you are directly allowing that person to continue offering passionately.
This is about getting beyond the instant gratification- getting beyond the routine and false sense of needs- and letting your dollar do something far more substantial for you and those around you. Stop looking at each dollar you place in this world as a loss, trade, or direct exchange- and start looking at is as a vote, a change, and an investment in your own personal values.
You’d be amazed at how a simple change in spending perspective can not only better your life in a direct sense, but allow you to feel as though you are creating purpose with every decision you make. It is quite fulfilling and eliminates a lot of needless financial stress.
So when you spend more at the local food co-op, just remember that you are supporting sustainable food practices, organic products, local business, and progressive food thinking. When you spend $100 on a REAL water filter you are supporting clean water, true health, and poison free sourcing for you and your entire family. And when you avoid the big boxes, the big selections, and the big savings, you are revoking your vote for unsustainable business, low value services, poor farming practices, and negligent responsibility.
You are always voting on how the world operates with every single dollar you spend. So you need to ask yourself “what is more important- Value, or Values”- and then you must answer honestly and live accordingly.

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