Buy Locally to Save Money and Support Neighborhood Businesses Feeling the need to tighten belts against the economic downturn? Despite predictions of gloom and doom, there are ways to gather local support and help oneself and others through tough times. With every eye on the economy, it’s never been easier to save money on gas, food, childcare and more by pooling resources and buying within the neighborhood to support local economy. Local economy means the people closest to you geographically – immediate family, neighbours, nearby businesses, and anyone else who contributes to the economy in a neighborhood. Supporting local economy means choosing local retailers over superstores. It also means people supporting other people through systems like barter, carpooling, sharing childcare, and more. Buy Locally Grown Food One of the best ways to save money on food is to grow produce in a home or neighborhood garden. If that’s not possible, try farmer’s markets or stores that sell locally grown produce, meat and poultry. Organic local food is best, of course, because it supports local farmers and prevents the spread of pesticides and other chemicals into the environment – but if organic is beyond your budget, local produce alone is certainly a help to farmers near you, and will save money on gas and transportation to get fruits and vegetables to stores. Buy Fresh Rather Than Packaged Foods to Save Health, Gas and Money Packaged, processed foods not only cost more – they’re bad for health. Buy fresh produce, meat, and seafood. Cut refined, sugary, preservative-laden foods like packaged cereals, boxed cookies, store bought muffins, and other unnecessary items and make them fresh at home for half the cost and with healthier ingredients. Save Money by Carpooling with Coworkers It’s a tried and true solution to a tight budget: find out if people at work (or school) live nearby and arrange to carpool, saving gas costs and daily wear and tear on cars. It’s a relaxing way to save money and get to work on time. Create a Neighborhood Childcare Pool Daycare and babysitters are expensive, so many parents are turning to local childcare pools to help save money. All it takes is two or more families willing to take turns caring for everyone’s children. As a bonus, there’s a synergy in community childcare that can benefit kids who might be overlooked or bullied in normal daycares. Barter For What You Need Barter has a long tradition – older than money – that’s still going strong today. Sites like Craigslist or community message boards are a great way to learn more about local barter economy – or find out if a local tradesperson is willing to exchange goods or services. It’s impossible to know what someone might happily accept until you offer! Organize Potlucks or Picnics with Friends and Family Rather than eating out, try to arrange potluck meals with coworkers, friends and relatives. Potlucks are a perfect way to save money, learn new recipes and food traditions, and socialize in a warm, friendly environment. Support Local Businesses It might seem easier to run out to the supermarket or order items online– but think about the impact before choosing national or international businesses over local retailers. Small businesses give back to the community in wages, municipal taxes and purchases from other neighborhood businesses. During an economic downturn, buying goods from neighborhood businesses supports the entire community. Rent Out a Room Renting out a room at home isn’t for everyone – but it does bring in a few extra dollars and might enable someone with a lower income, like a student, or fallen on hard times to put a roof over their head. It’s also possible to offer a room to a self-employed or small business owner as an office, studio, or other workspace.