Vote With Your Dollar This Holiday Season

Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday and Giving Tuesday -- all that really means is shopping. I'm a public advocate for shopping small and shopping local, but I also understand the wants of the folks on your list -- I've had kids, I know they want things from you and from Santa.

First, Let's Stop Guilting People

Yes, it may be the fall of the empire that we desire to shop on Thanksgiving or it might just be that people are broke and want deals. I don't really know or care. What I do care about is the guilt that people who open on Thanksgiving feel - remember most of the workers are just workers, they don't make decisions. I also care about the shame the people place over people who are shopping on Black Friday. Really? We are shaming people for saving money? You all know the verse -- throw the first stone -- yadda yadda -- stop it. Yes, you are perfect and would never stoop to shopping on Thanksgiving or Black Friday. I hear you. Please stop shaming those that are -- it is unbecoming of you and them.

Second, Shop Less

I don't know a single person who needs anything. Not really. Yes, my kiddo needs a new Mac, but she can also nurse hers along for a while. Yours may need the latest headphones, game, Disney paraphernalia... or maybe not. Most of the "needs" of the people around me are just wants and that's fine, but really they probably don't want anything either. You can give less and everyone will be ok. It isn't the mountain of toys they open it is the one that pulls the strings in their heart. Figure out what that one thing is and go with that as the gift.

Shop Local and Regionally

When you shop locally, even at a Big Box a percentage of the tax dollars stay in that location and jobs are staying right in your area. Yes, you can buy the TV online, but if you can head over to your local shops to see what they have and purchase it there you will be giving money back to your community. Consider doing at least 40% of your shopping locally and regionally - that means at least that much of your tax dollars stays home.

Shop Small

Venture into the smaller stores in your town, visit a craft show, go into a gallery and support the small stores and makers in your area and around the U.S. When you shop small you are making a direct difference to usually a small handful of people -- the owners, the workers, and the makers. It is easy to support these great folks who are cultivating great products and designing amazing things for us to give as gifts. When you shop small you are giving communities the ability to realize their own dreams -- hefty stuff for just a gift or two. Challenge yourself to buy at least 30% of your gifts from small shops and makers -- you will make their holidays brighter and yours too.

Online Shopping

With the world at our fingertips we want to get the perfect thing for those that we love. Remember, most online sales have zero effect for your home town, region or state. Set some limits to how much online shopping you will do this year, say 10%?

Big Box Stores = The Devil?

No not the devil... they are convenient and they also provide jobs. Seriously. I'd rather you buy something locally at Target or Walmart in your hometown then online with a retailer that doesn't contribute to your local economy at all. At least you are giving jobs and tax dollars. Do you have to do your shopping at these gigantic boxes of stuff? No, but if you do? Limit that to about 10% of your shopping. I seriously just saved you from Target Head -- which is a real medical condition - or should be.

The Real Deal About Shopping

Shop with love and not because you have to. People won't care that you didn't buy them enough things and if they do they aren't really your kind of people. Think about donations in their name for Giving Tuesday, experiences they can use later in the year, or just less. One family I know adopted the idea of giving their kids "something they need, something they want, something to wear and something to read" -- just four gifts. Maybe that will tame the shopping for you. Whatever you do, start thinking about where your money is going because, folks, that is voting - spend it where it makes the most difference.

Originally posted on - live simply and work smarter, advice for small businesses and people wanting to make the leap to living the simple life.