Last week I was listening to Faith Middleton on Connecticut Public Radio when she and her guests discussed how much they wished someone would just tell all of us what we could do to combat economic fear and get the economy on the road to recovery. Faith said “Just tell me to go out and buy tires (or something else) and I'll go do it.” We are all feeling so helpless and our collective angst has resulted in nearly every household curbing their spending, which is only making matters worse. Most of us are not ready to make a big purchase and we do need to save a little more as a culture. However, I think Faith is right, we want to help and we wish we knew what proactive thing we could do to help fend off disaster and get our economy moving in the upward direction.
The days of just going out and spending are gone. The days of impulsive purchases are gone. Since listening to that radio interview, I’ve updated my family budget to include a few ways that our family will responsibly spend in an effort to help our community. To make my list, I tried to think about the segments of the economy that are hurting the most. It may be protectionist of me, but my family will attempt to spend locally.
Here are my five suggestions to responsibly spend to help the economy:
1. Send a small donation to a non-profit organization that you have always wanted to support but never have. Your gift will mean so much more. I serve on a non-profit fundraising committee, and I know how hard it is to raise money these days to keep doing our mission and not have to lay off staff. My donation will be in the mail next week.
2. Do a small home improvement project. Paint a room, repair the back steps (this one is on my list), replace a piece of furniture, or frame a piece of your children's art etc. Do something that will make your living environment better and make you feel good.
3. If you own a “”not so new” car don't delay a needed repair. Help the after market if you can't yet invest in a new car. If you do own a new car, thank you for your help. We did just replace four tires, and I promise to get the oil changed on my car.
4. Invest in something that will save you money. Replace a water guzzling toilet (we’ve got this on in progress), get some solar lights for your yard to replace that flood light, buy a seltzer maker, move out that old dryer and put up a clothes line. You get the idea.
5. Don't forget those who work in the service industries. Last week when I met friends for lunch, it was clear how happy the restaurant was to have us there. It may not be dinner out as often for us as it used to be, but I will take a friend to lunch. If eating out is still not in your budget even something as small getting your car washed may keep someone employed.
Please join me in writing up your own list of how you will responsibly spend. The momentum has to start somewhere; it would be great if it could start right here in Middletown.