Bad Spending Habit #2: Caving to ‘Good’ Causes/Purchases

This sounds lame, doesn’t it? It’s sort of like that job interview question where you’re asked to identify a weakness and you say, ‘It’s my work ethic, I just have a hard time saying no to new projects.” Suddenly the weakness sounds pretty good.

So, shame on MJ and I for aiming to be ethical spenders. No, I’m not trying to spin our bad habits so that you think more favorably of us. I just mean that we can be soft when it comes to doling out money for organic goods or local/green businesses. Even at a big box store, MJ and I are easily persuaded to buy a product that looks remotely ‘green’ and we pay a premium for the feel-good-feeling that we receive. Even charities see us coming a mile away. Here I am counting our pennies but I can’t say ‘no’ to the Girl Guides selling cookies.

I don’t mean to sound flippant. I believe that there should be space in every budget for giving. And I also believe that every consumer dollar is a vote towards what sort of society we want to live in. The tricky thing is how to maintain the feel-good spending while keeping the budget in check.

And I guess that’s the solution. We need to be more diligent in budgeting for charities and ethical products/services.

I had an acquaintance who gave her sons a two-part allowance. One part was for whatever they wanted – you know, chocolate bars, saving up for a big-ticket toy, etc. The other part had to go towards giving. They could give it to a busker on the street, sponsor their cousin in a fun-run for some cause, or donate it to the Red Cross. I always thought this was a brilliant way to encourage children to make room in their spending for giving. And, when the Bear and Banana are old enough to receive an allowance, we will likely do something similar. But even at this level, it teaches a basic principle – make room for giving, but know that what you can give (or, in our case, what businesses you want to support) has financial limitations. Choose carefully.

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1 Response to “Bad Spending Habit #2: Caving to ‘Good’ Causes/Purchases”


  1. 1 Sarah Van Tassel May 25, 2011 at 6:38 am

    I must admit I’m a sucker for the same thing…I bought myself an $8 bag of cereal about a month ago cause it gives $2 to Diane Fossey’s Gorilla Habitat.
    And I think the allowance idea is a really inspired concept – children should learn to give back, save and be resposnible with thier money. Heck, I’m still learning!


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