Money, money, money

I used to have a ‘real’ job: I went to work every day and somebody paid me a salary at the end of the month. My contract came to an end and I could have applied for a permanent job, but I didn’t want to carry on in that particular role, so I didn’t bother. After a brief break a friend rang me up and asked if I was available… I said yes and, after an interview, I was offered a job that involved working three days per week. This seemed like a good idea as I already had a bit of freelance copy-editing coming in and I was doing a bit of teaching adults for the local university’s lifelong learning department. That job got made permanent and I got fed up with it so I moved to a new post – two and a half days a week – continuing to copy-edit and teach plus taking on other editing. I managed that for six years before I decided that life was too short to spend two and a half days a week doing a managerial job that I no longer enjoyed, so I resigned. Four years down the line I have a lot less money, a wardrobe full of clothes I never wear and a much more productive garden. No regrets.

Since I have less money I probably think more carefully about what I want to spend it on. This is not to say that we are short of money, it’s just that I think I value it more now than I used to. I spend a lot less these days because I rarely have lunch out, or buy a cup of coffee, or go and buy something because I’m feeling stressed and I no longer have the bus fare or petrol to pay for to get me to work (although I have worn out quite a few pairs of slippers in the last few years). But when I do buy things I want to get a good product and I want my money to do good… so my coffee is fair trade, my meat is organic and my electricity supply is green, but this is only part of the picture. What I want to do is support my local community and my local economy. I want to spend money within the local economy as much as I can. There is good evidence demonstrating the value to your community of spending your money with local businesses – more people in your area benefit from it and it makes your community financially more robust. It also encourages more local production, which has great benefits as, for example, oil prices rise and the cost of transporting goods goes up. There is loads of information about this… look at the work of The New Economics Foundation, for example. Just type ‘local economy’ into their search and you will find all sorts of information, not to mention free publications to download.

We are lucky here in west Wales – there are lots of local food producers, one of the best farm shops in the country, many small businesses on the high streets, lots of local crafts-people, a local flour mill and great places to eat. There are great opportunities to support our local economy and thus our local community. I’m not saying that I never shop in a supermarket or on-line, but many of my purchases do support local shop keepers and/or producers and I hope that my money is going round and round in the local economy and doing lots of good before finally moving out of the area.

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  1. Making it! | The Snail of Happiness

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