Boycotts, or voting with your $$$

I’ve noticed a number of my Facebook friends posting about boycotting BP due to the disaster in the Gulf. While I can understand their frustration with BP, I was quick to point out that BP-branded gas stations are franchises, owned by small-business folks, not the huge parent company of British Petroleum. Another friend posted Newsweek’s helpful article on boycotting BP, which I found very interesting.

Even aside from boycotting, anytime you buy something, you are essentially voting with your money. By buying what you do, you are keeping one business afloat while leaving the others behind. Shredded wheat vs. Cocoa Puffs, McDonald’s vs. Wendy’s, Wal-Mart vs. Target, and so forth. We don’t think of buying as voting, but over time, it makes a difference.

After a bad experience with a pair of glasses, I only shop at Wal-Mart if they’re the only store that has what I need. I try to keep my money in my community, when possible. I prefer to buy at my locally-owned grocery store, and even shopping at Target is, for me, is, in a way, ‘buying local,’ since I live in Minnesota where the parent company is headquartered. However, one of my favorite ways to save some cash is to buy used on eBay; DVDs, clothes, and electronics can be had for a fraction of the retail price, and somebody gets to put a bit more cash in their own pocket instead of throwing something away. I feel good about both of these decisions, of spending where I do and not spending where I prefer not to.

So, when confronted with a ‘vote with your money’ moment, what do you do?

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