Why You Need to Vote With Your Dollar All Year Long

How Women Can Have a Greater Impact on Society Through Their Spending

Unless you were living under a rock, you didn’t escape 2020 without this one message all but tattooed on your brain: get out and vote. Celebrities and professional athletes were among those who joined the usual chorus of politicians heralding the importance of voting. While certainly important, casting your ballot isn’t the only way you can help shape our democracy. 

Another simple and effective way to make your voice heard is voting with your dollar. The economic impact of how and where you spend your money is a powerful tool for changing society. Amid the current economic crisis, which has resulted in thousands of businesses going under and widespread unemployment, voting with your dollar has never been more important.

Since women are frequently the primary shoppers for their households, you’re in the perfect position to have a greater impact on society through your spending. If voting with your dollar sounds complicated (or, even worse, expensive) don’t worry: it’s a simple concept to put into practice. When you commit to voting with your dollar, effecting change is as easy as clicking “Add to Cart.” 

How Voting with Your Dollar Works

To start, voting with your dollar originated with the idea that how you spend money should align with your beliefs. When you go to buy something, you should consider the potential impact of the money you’re about to spend including what your money will ultimately go toward. Think of the marketplace like a ballot box. Each dollar you spend or keep tucked in your wallet is a vote you’re casting. As much as we enjoy a little retail therapy, we’re also down for any good reason not to have to look at Andrew Jackson’s smug mug.

Shopping—whether it’s for clothes, food, or that new Macbook Air you’ve had your eye on—is an integral part of everyday life. In today’s world, very few people are entirely self-sufficient, making or growing everything they need to live. The first step to voting with your dollar is assessing what you spend money on and, if necessary, adjusting your habits while still meeting your needs.

If you find yourself mindlessly consuming, looking for values-aligned replacements for things you’re already buying is a much more practical way to break your spending habits than trying to eliminate all expenditures. Instead of never thinking about what you’re buying or who you’re buying it from, voting with your dollar is about harnessing the power you have as a consumer and using it to have a greater impact on society. It’s further proof that politicians aren’t the only ones who can make change: so can you.

Why You Should Care About Your Spending Habits

Unlike presidential elections that only happen once every four years, voting with your dollar is something you can do every day. Just like casting your vote in an election, your vote might not necessarily swing the results, but as part of the collective, you have power. As more and more consumers vote with their dollars, large corporations are forced to heed the demands of the collective.

For example, in 2020, the Black Lives Matter movement called for an economic boycott of businesses that didn’t vocally support BLM. Leaders called upon allies and community members to vote with their dollars and patron Black-owned businesses. Not only did the strategy boost sales for Black-owned businesses, but it compelled large corporations to take a side on the critical issue of social justice.

Being intentional with your spending habits is a simple way to champion causes that you care about. If you want to support vulnerable communities such as asylum seekers or refugees, then spend money with businesses that make a point of hiring people under humanitarian protection. Or, you have strong feelings about diversity. In that case, seek out organizations that prioritize diversity in the workplace and offer STEM opportunities to otherwise underrepresented groups.

When deciding where to spend your money, look for industry leaders and businesses that are genuinely listening and taking action. You should be wary of corporations simply paying lip service to causes such as sustainability, feminist practice, and LGBTQ inclusion. Do your research and check companies’ websites to see what actionable steps they’re taking to bring about tangible change.

How to Vote with Your Dollar Even If You’re Broke

The thinking behind finding a values-aligned replacement for the goods and services you’re already spending money on means you can vote with your dollar even if you don’t have a lot of disposable income. If you’re feeling guilty about not having the money to make a financial contribution or donation to help a movement you care about, voting with your dollar is a budget-friendly way to show your support.

An often overlooked way to vote with your dollar involves social media. Since advertising is a large part of how individuals and companies make money through social media, you can show your support through your follows and subsequent engagement (likes, comments, and shares).

Despite an uptick in the national conversation about the importance of diversity, there are still many examples of the need for more diversity across various industries, including the beauty community. Consider finding values-aligned replacements for the popular beauty influencers you follow. When you follow men, people with disabilities, LGBTQIA+, and people of color, it will help to shape the future of diversity in the beauty industry. 

From who you follow on social media to where you shop, voting with your dollar is a powerful way that women can have a greater impact on society. If you recognize the importance of casting your ballot in political elections, then the next step to continue affecting change is to make conscious decisions about your spending habits.

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