My Mom and I have interesting talks. We inspire each other with our intellectual sparring. Today we had an email discussion about money, and a concept occurred to me…. this is still new and there are some rough spots to work out, but here is the basic idea…

What if Americans treated their money like votes? $1 = 1 vote.

Now imagine you need to buy a new Widget. You can buy that Widget at Wal-Mart for $2. You can also buy it at Trader Joe’s for $3.25.

If you buy it at Wal-Mart, you have just voted twice for Wal-Mart as your preferred Widget supplier. ($1 equals one vote, so $2 is two votes.) That’s two votes for Wal-Mart over all of the other potential Widget-retailers out there.

But if you had bought it at Trader Joe’s for $3.25, you would have voted three and a quarter times for Trader Joe’s, over all other Widget suppliers.

Sure, you could buy it for less at Wal-Mart, but you also only voted twice for them, so they have little interest in your votes. Trader Joe’s is a smaller retailer, so your 3+ votes are far more valuable to them, and your voice is much louder with them. And we all like to be heard.

Thinking Differently

It makes you think differently about your money, doesn’t it? You might understand the impact your spending habits have on your immediate environment, and that spending money is a powerful lever for change…

Let’s do this one more time, abbreviated:

$1 = 1 vote.

A meal at McDonald’s is, say, $6.

$6 will buy you some wonderful food at your local farmer’s market or produce stand.

So who do you want to “vote” for six times? Before you answer this, remember that this is not only six votes FOR McDonalds, it is also six votes AGAINST every single other provider of food in your area. Every restaurant, every produce stand, every fast food joint, etc. Do you really want to vote against your local farmer’s market six times? Especially when you are voting for McDonalds?

Next time you spend money, think of every dollar you spend as a vote FOR the philosophy and continued success of the business you just gave that money to, and a vote AGAINST every other similar business in the area.

Empowered. That’s the word for how I feel when I buy from my local retailers.