Turning V-Day into U-Day: Self Care Tips for Valentine’s Day

coffee love

It’s almost Valentine’s Day!

This holiday is always tricky for me as an aspiring minimalist because I really don’t like “stuff for stuff’s sake.” Sometimes flowers are nice, but they seem like a waste of money to me because they die in a few days (Side note: I do enjoy potted plants, despite my sad, dying succulent on my desk), and I’m not eating sugar very much because it turns me into a fiend, so chocolate’s out. Please do not buy me the 6′ tall Costco teddy bear either – a cat will just pee on it. 

Valentine’s Day feels like obligation to shower someone with useless stuff you wouldn’t normally buy… and that just feels odd to me. 

Let’s not do that this year. Let’s take care of our own damn selves. We give to others daily, we pour ourselves into those we love, our job, even strangers. When is the last time you poured yourself into…you?

This Valentine’s Day, I’m issuing a challenge. I double dog dare you to make February 14th* all about you. How is your relationship with yourself? Let’s fix that.

*Note: Valentine’s Day is a Wednesday so if you want to schedule this self-care day for the weekend, that’s great! Just commit to taking a day for yourself, guilt-free. 

Challenge 1:

Set a timer for 2 minutes. Make a list of things that make you smile – but nothing to do with doing something for other people. While those things are noble, that’s not what this is about this time. Here are a few of mine:

  • Hanging out on the couch or in my hammock with the cats 
  • Watching Jane the Virgin on Netflix 
  • COFFEE
  • Running
  • Taking a hot bath while I browse Pinterest or read a book
  • Eating yummy food (bonus points if I don’t have to cook it myself)

Challenge 2:

Now, I want you to make a list of things you have been wanting to do for yourself lately. These things, again, can include other people but cannot be FOR other people. Set that time for 2 minutes. Ready, set, go! Here is my list:

  • Take an aerial yoga class 
  • Get a massage
  • Buy planner stencils for my bullet journal 
  • Plan a lunch date with a friend 
  • Plan a solo weekend getaway 

Challenge 3:

Now that you have two lists, what do you do with them? You’re gonna plan your Valentine’s Day self-care date. Take at least two items from list one and one item from list two and make a day of it. I give you permission to focus on you. Forget the world. This isn’t V-Day anymore, it’s U-Day!

Challenge 4:

Last but not least…. I want you to write a love letter to yourself. Yeah, I know this is cliche. You’ve heard this before, probably. Did you do it though? If you did, was it lately? Hang it on the wall. Use it as a bookmark in your book. Just keep it around so you can remember that you’re your biggest fan and you’re the only person whose validation and admiration you really need to be your best self.

Don’t focus on what you’d like to improve or change – this is a positive, love-based letter to yourself.

Here are some prompts if this feels awkward:

  • I’m really proud of you for…
  • Something I admire about you is…
  • My favorite thing about your personality is…
  • You’re amazing at…
  • I can’t wait to see what you do with…
  • You have a great butt!

You deserve this. Don’t let anyone else tell you’re selfish.

It’s okay to do stuff for you. It’s okay to set boundaries. It’s okay to say no.

Its okay to take care of you.

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8 Free iPhone Apps to Improve Your Mental Health

012218 mindfulness

If your new year’s resolution includes practicing mindfulness or meditation as part of a lifestyle change, this is the post for you. Even if mindfulness wasn’t on your to-do list for 2018, it’s never a bad idea to start. Meditation has many benefits for your physical and mental health, including:

  • Improving focus and attention
  • Increasing brain volume related to positive emotions
  • Improving emotional regulation
  • Decreasing feelings of loneliness
  • Decreasing anxiety, depression, and stress

Read the details on these benefits and more at Psychology Today.

I’ve put together a list of apps you can download to your iPhone to help guide a new mindfulness practice. Premium memberships with all the meditations unlocked will cost you a little bit (the price varies by app) but the free membership will get you started on the right track for the low cost of just a few minutes of your time and a willingness to commit to this new habit.

  1. Calm: Calm is a popular meditation app with guided tracks as short as 3 minutes (perfect for a quick morning routine before coffee) and up to 25 minutes long if you’ve got half an hour to spare. Even the loading screen is calming, with the message, “Take a deep breath” while the app loads up. You can choose from several goals:  sleep, gratitude, anxiety, happiness, stress, self-esteem, meditation, or focus. Once you set up a username and password, you’ll get a screen with paid options, but you can tap the X in the top right corner to move ahead with the free version. My favorite part is the ambient noise you can choose for your home screen on the app: choose from flowing water and songbirds at a mountain lake, a crackling fire, a rainy drizzle in the forest, or silence while you look at the Earth from space.
  2. Headspace: Headspace is another meditation app that’s very popular and has great reviews. Free tracks are available without handing over your payment info, but if you sign up for the trial premium membership keep an eye on your auto-renewal in case you don’t want to continue. Choose from the “Everyday Headspace” track, one- to three-minute “Mini” tracks, or the “Basics” tracks that are designed to teach you how to meditate one day at a time. Note: Your phone will download each meditation before playing, so this will take a moment and some storage space.
  3. The Mindfulness App: When you download Mindfulness, you’ll set up the app’s permissions, including the option to receive a “Daily Notice” in your push notifications (to remind you of a mindful tidbit to keep in mind each day), the ability to connect to the iPhone Health App to track your mindfulness practice and/or heart rate, and then the obligatory slide detailing the premium account cost and benefits. Just tap the X to keep it free. Choose from 3, 5, 15, or 30 minute meditations and a 1 or 5 minute body scan to check in with your body. There are options for guided (where a narrator talks you through the meditation) or silent (which lets you do your own thing and just guides you with chimes throughout the session to come back to your breath as needed). You can set a background sound for your meditation, nearly all of which are water-based except the forest track, which has birdsong. You can set a daily timer to remind you to do your meditation to make sure you remember each day.
  4. Insight Timer: This app boasts more free content than any other meditation app. When you first sign up, you’ll see the default home screen, a world map that shows you where people are meditating all across the globe — which is fascinating and exciting. You can connect with friends or search by location to see which meditation tracks are popular in your area. If you choose, you can also set the “Explore” page (the icon that looks like headphones) as your home screen, featuring a multitude of tracks and music to help you focus and center. The timer screen (clock icon) lets you set a timer with a distinct chime of your choosing at the start and end of your unguided meditation (with an option to ring during the session too). You can also join groups (four dots icon) and check your own progress in your profile.
  5. Sattva: Sattva’s setup is similar to the rest with a basic push notification allowance, etc., but it also asks to access your location in order to display sunrise, sunset, moon phases, and other location-based stats. You can set privacy to just you, friends-only, or the entire Sattva community. As always, there’s an upsell page to promote the premium membership, but you can easily skip this step. The display of Sattva is beautiful and brightly colored, which personally makes me feel happy and upbeat. Your dashboard will display your overall stats on how long you’ve meditated with the app and your best streak of days in a row, a daily mantra, a timer, and any playlists you’ve assembled. There’s also a daily quote or wisdom for reflection as you see fit. Within Sattva, you can join “lounges,” which are essentially groups with recommended meditations. Sattva feels like a social network for mindfulness.
  6. Aura: Aura promotes itself as “A personalized mindfulness app that understands you” and you’ll start off by setting a profile with your age, some descriptors of yourself, the habit you want to attach your mindfulness practice to (this is unique and actually works, since it builds on existing habits you already have like brushing your teeth or eating breakfast), and opting in for reminders/push notifications. Once your profile is set up, you’ll choose your main goal, similar to other mindfulness apps. The free membership allows you to choose from “Learn Mindfulness,” “Enjoy Peaceful Morning,” or “Reduce Stress.” Premium membership unlocks goals related to anxiety, focus, happiness, healing, self-love/confidence, and sleep. When you’re ready to start your meditation, you can select how you’re feeling – selecting a feeling will filter a meditation that best suits your mood.
  7. Mood Mint: Mood Mint isn’t a meditation app, but it helps you “reprogram” your brain to focus on the positive. You’ll see four images and your goal is to tap the one that is the most positive. The images available are a mix of human faces showing a range of emotions, people being physically active, foods, and nature photos. You can also upload your own photos to the mix as well. For example, if you see the following four images: woman laughing, boy frowning, donut, and storm cloud, the “correct” response is to tap the woman laughing. The quicker you select the positive image, the more points you get. Over time this re-trains your brain to focus on positives over negatives. There are also text slides during each round, a positive word-search, and a breathing exercise.
  8. Shine: Shine is an awesome app that sends you a positive text each day that helps you practice mindfulness, self-care, and gratitude. You can follow the text to a blog post that goes into detail about each day’s Shine. The Shine app also allows you to listen to free “Quick Hitters,” either to set a positive mindset in the morning, boost your mood in the afternoon, or help you wind down in the evening. You can unlock premium membership tracks with a free 7-day trial or upgrade to a paid membership. The daily texts are great on their own, though!

Now that I have eight new apps on my phone, I should pick one to commit to for more than a few days! Which one sounds best for your needs?

9 New Year’s Resolutions to Simplify Your Life

It’s that time again. Monday, January 1, 2018 saw us starting a new year, new month, and even a new week (for those of us who start counting on Monday). Now that the new year is here, it’s time to reflect on 2017 and decide what to improve in the following year. Or not. But I like setting goals and making lists, so that’s what I’m working on! More on my personal resolutions later — this is about you!

new year photo

The following nine ideas are resolutions you can put into place this year to make your life a little more simple. Decluttered. Minimalist. However you want to put it, it can become your reality with a little bit of work. Take a look at the list and pick one to get started.

  1. Donate one bag or box per month. This one’s easy. Make some time once a month to tidy and declutter in your home until you’ve filled a vessel of your choice. You can make this as easy (small plastic grocery bag) or hard (large garbage bag) as you want. But set yourself a goal for each month and get moving!
  2. Put one item away each day. This sounds too simple, but it’s a good resolution for several reasons. First, if your home is super cluttered and you’re overwhelmed with where to start, this will give you an easy win every day. Second, goals don’t work unless they’re achievable, and this one is super simple. Notice an empty soda can on the counter? Rinse it and put it in the recycling. You just put one thing in your home where it belongs. Repeat. (And if you can’t find a good home for it, put it in a bag like in #1).
  3. Try a 30 day clutter challenge. There are a few varieties of these clutter challenges around. One is to declutter one item on the first of the month, two items on the second, so on and so forth until you’re decluttering 30 items on the 30th of the month. Another challenge is a bag challenge, where you fill a bag every day with items that will leave your home. It might be a bag of trash or recycling to throw out, a bag of donations, or a bag of stuff that you borrowed from your sister last year and it’s really time she got it back. Just get it out!
  4. Try a Project 333. Project 333 can be incredibly fun and is a low-stress way to try a minimal wardrobe. You choose 33 items to wear for 3 months, and you can only wear those items. I make exceptions for underwear/socks and workout clothes but stick to 33 tops/bottoms/dresses/accessories/shoes for the actual challenge.
  5. Konmari one category. Taking on the whole of Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up is a big commitment. But if you resolve to do just one category (say, clothing or books), you might get hooked and do the rest! But even if you don’t, you’ll make great progress in simplifying your life.
  6. Create one minimalist space. Overhauling your entire home is daunting, especially if you live with those who are less minimally-inclined and don’t mind clutter. Don’t pull your hair out in stress over it, just commit to creating and maintaining one minimalist space in your home. It might be a spare room or office, or it might even be the kitchen table. Communicate to your family or roommates that it’s off limits, and enjoy your happy space.
  7. Implement a household system. I thought about resolving to keep a clean house this year, but that is a recipe for disaster. I can, however, commit to a household system. For my home, that will mean making sure all of the litter boxes are scooped on Monday night and all the cat litter trash goes out on trash night. Maybe your system is “we don’t go to sleep with dirty dishes in the sink” or “we clean the bathroom on laundry day and wash the shower curtain.” Whatever your system needs to be, implement just one and try it for a month. If it goes well, add a new system later!
  8. Keep a bullet journal. Bullet journal purists may turn up their nose at the idea of spending hours each week making a pretty layout, but it’s actually very relaxing to spend some dedicated time organizing your thoughts in a stylized bullet journal. Whether you go classic and just keep the basics in your journal or you fall down the Pinterest rabbit hole to find one million layout ideas and try your hand at calligraphy, this habit can help you simplify your schedule and keep on top of tasks. (Plan your week in your minimalist happy place from #6!)
  9. Say no. Minimalism isn’t just about reducing physical clutter, it’s about emotional clutter and mental clutter too. Overcommiting to all sorts of responsibilities (between home, work, and volunteer or other extracurricular activities) is bound to stress you out and lead to a breaking point. This year, learn to prioritize yourself. You do not have to do everything someone asks of you.

What do you think? Do any of these resolutions sound like a good idea to you?

My personal resolutions are around my home (decluttering, of course), fitness, relationship (plan more dates!), and brand/business. As part of that brand building resolution, I have a goal to publish two blogs per month on Born Again Minimalist. I’m also working on an e-book of the best posts, as well as totally original content! Stay tuned for more info.

5 Quick Mental Health Tips for the Holidays

First, I’d like to apologize on the lateness of this post. There are three days until Christmas, and this advice would have been especially helpful about three weeks before Christmas, but I completely forgot to schedule it. My bad, friends.

It’s the most streeeeessful tiiiiiime of the year!

Happy Holidays! It’s time again to start worrying about gifts, your rude and inappropriate uncle, and affording getting your family half-way across the country to see your mom because well, she said so.

In an extremely informal poll I conducted on Facebook, I found that most people seem to dislike the holidays because of the financial aspect. People feel a need to travel, buy gifts, have pretty outfits, send out cards, and host a big dinner or three.

Many other people mentioned things such as politics, having multiple celebrations due to divorce, and the gimme-gimme commercialization of it all.

However, while you’re busy making sure everyone else gets their wishes fulfilled this season, it’s not time to stop taking care of yourself. In the midst of it all, how can you ensure that you still do? Here are 5 top tips to keep your cool through the holidays.

1. Do yourself a HUGE favor. Learn to say no. “No” is a complete sentence that doesn’t require explanation. All together with me now! No. NO. NoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoO.

2. It’s ok to set ground rules when you’re around family. Politics, religion, snide comments about the vegan side dishes, smoking at the dinner table – it’s okay to set these boundaries and stick to them. 

3. Stick to your budget. You still need to pay your bills this month. Don’t allow anyone to push you to feel they deserve more than you can give. This holiday isn’t about presents, it’s about presence.

4. Give *yourself* something to make you smile. Maybe it’s a coffee or hot bath or even just a night reading alone. Don’t forget you; you’re your #1 priority. This time of year I often treat myself to things, recognizing that I force myself to go without more often than not. I just got a $3 pack of hair ties – BIG SPENDER. 

5. Remember, you don’t have to see, talk to, or spend time with anyone you don’t want to. (Refer back to #1). Also remember that if your kids (or YOU) don’t want to hug anyone, you don’t have to. Forced affection is not love, it’s control, and it’s icky. 

I hope you’re able to put some of these holiday tips into action on such short notice. And if you need a permission slip from your internet buddy the Born Again Minimalist, you can totally throw me under the bus. “Sorry, we’re not putting Christmas on the credit card this year, some blogger told me it’s okay.” I’m cool with that.

Happy Holidays to you!

On Trusting the Universe and Letting Go

About a month ago, a friend of mine on Facebook shared a link to a great deal on an arguably frivolous item that she really wanted. To be honest, this particular thing is on my want-it list too. I understand the desire for something just-because. I sneakily ordered it and shipped it to her.

When I got a delivery confirmation I subtly suggested she check her mail, and there was nothing there. I confirmed her address only to realize that I’d shipped the damn thing to her old address and she had moved.

I emailed the vendor and admitted my mistake, hoping they’d let me re-order it at the sale price. No dice. I resolved to order it again for her the next time they put it on sale and just let the whole thing go. I hoped that the new tenant of her apartment would actually like it and figured maybe that person needed a boost from a new piece of pretty.

Imagine my surprise when I checked my email this week, weeks later, saying that the vendor had received my order back to their warehouse. Just confirm the address and we’ll send it right back out, or we’ll issue you a refund.

I updated the address and away it went to its rightful destination after all.

When I had given up on the thing I thought was over, it ended up coming back and working out.

This is not the first time this has happened recently, either.

Also about a month ago (I was apparently feeling exceptionally charitable in August!) I did a good deed to the tune of $75 and within hours had a new resume client asking for my $75 special for a resume and cover letter. It was almost like the universe said “Hey, good job, here’s something nice for you too.”

I’d chalk that up to cosmic coincidence except that it happened again this month too. Another $75 good deed, another $75 resume gig.

What you put into the universe comes back to you. Giving is receiving, if we let it happen. 

Some more examples from my own life:

I had $200 in resume orders just this week. Last week, I sent my sister $200 to rent a car so she could attend our dad’s birthday party.

When my sister lived with me, she had loaned some money to a friend who later ghosted her and never paid her back. It was about $300. I advised her to just consider it a gift and tell the friend that it wasn’t worth straining or losing their friendship over the $300 loan. She let it go. Over the next weekend serving tables at her restaurant job, my sister brought home roughly $300 in tips – well over her average.

The best part of this is that I am always completely surprised when it happens. I’ve never gone into a good deed thinking “I wonder how this will come back around to benefit me!” But a while after any of this comes to fruition, I realize what has happened. It’s eerie and awesome.

Make Giving a Regular Part of Your Life

While an evangelical Christian Dave Ramsey baby-stepper would be tithing 10% of their income to the church, I prefer to designate roughly 10% of my income to just doing nice things for people.

Whether it’s donating to individuals fundraising on GoFundMe or social media, sending a friend some quick cash just to get themselves a treat, or putting in an order for somebody who ran out of cat litter two days to payday, knowing that I have that type of spending worked into my plan is a huge freedom and my favorite part of my monthly budget.

Even if you can’t give ten percent, I encourage everyone to plan a small kindness into their regular routine. It doesn’t have to cost a cent to put a smile on someone’s face. And that smile will come right back around!

 

 

6 Tips to Life Hack Personal Finances for Small Budgets

Hi readers! This guest post is brought to you by Jacob from Dollar Diligence. He’s put together a list of simple tips to improve your financial life. These tips apply to everyone, including people on a shoestring budget. So don’t expect tips about skipping your morning latte. These are real, actionable tips that can help you get ahead.

By Jacob, the voice over at @DollarDiligence.

Let’s face it, a lot of financial advice about saving is geared toward folks who actually have some money to save. Of course there are a ton of obvious financial life hacks such as opening new bank accounts just for saving that can work for most people. But what do you do when you just can’t find the extra money to put in there?

Here are 6 personal finance tips for people that have small budgets but are still trying to get ahead.

Know where your money goes. This is the biggest one. Before you can see where you can pinch pennies, you have to take a long hard look at your finances. If you have to sneak in a glass of wine first, go for it, but you really need to take an honest look.

If you’re not sure where to get started, there are budget tracking apps such as Personal Capital, or Good Budget, or Mint that automatically organize your purchases based on where the money was spent. If you want to go old school, save all your receipts for a month to see where you’re spending the most.

Use CASH not your debit card. Once you know where your money goes, you can start budgeting based on that. Say for instance your average money spent on groceries is about $50 a week. Rather than use your debit card when you go to the grocery store, pull out cash and spend that instead.

When you’re using cash, you actually spend less. For some reason, it feels so much more real when you hold those bills in your hand. Not only that, but you won’t slip in those extra snacks when all you have is the cash to spend.

Negotiate for better deals. Before you cancel all of those extra services, give the service providers a call and see if there are some better deals out there. I know every time I call my cable provider, I manage to get three free months of HBO!

Usually there is some kind of deal they can offer to basically keep you using their services. If the service is important to you, negotiating is a good option to get lower rates, even temporarily. While you’re on the phone with the service provider, you can inquire about the details of your plan. Sometimes you can find yourself paying for a service you don’t even need!

Reduce the cost of current debt. Regardless of if you’ve been paying your loans diligently or you’ve been deferring them because of monetary issues, you can look at refinancing credit cards and student loans. I believe in paying down debt as quick as possible.

Refinancing higher interest debt to lower interest rates can expedite your payoff timeline. Credit cards can be consolidated, but also if you have been regularly paying your credit cards, you can look at lowering the interest rates or the monthly payments. When it comes to student loans, all types can be consolidated and refinanced together.

When you refinance, you can adjust your term length, and if possible, pay down your student loans faster. But more importantly, a lower interest rate can equal significant savings for the average graduate who is leaving campus with about $28k in debt.

Set a modest and attainable savings goal. Finally it’s time for saving! At this point, you should have a little extra cash flow you freed up. This should start going into savings. When it comes to saving, you can do it two ways.

You can save as much as possible, keeping your budget tight but being able to save a lot more per month, or you can just save a little and just have extra money in your bank account.

Either method works, but if you’re a person that finds it difficult to hang on to money, you’re better off saving as much as you can from the front end. There are even savings goal calculators to help you figure it out!

Treat yourself sometimes! Keeping good finances is like eating healthy. You can eat healthy every day of the week, but sometimes you just need to have a cupcake. When you’re taking care of your finances, it’s absolutely okay to treat yourself sometimes!

Do something that makes the money spent definitely worthwhile, but keep it as an exclusive treat! A cupcake a day is not an acceptable diet plan, just like sneaking in extra purchases regularly isn’t good for your finances.

All of these tips can really help those with modest incomes take control and finally get some money socked away for a rainy day. You may have been putting personal finance off because it’s too depressing to contemplate how broke you are, but things like making a budget and putting away money can also give you a sense of control over your finances and your life.

About Jacob

Aside from his full-time job as a high school teacher, you can find Jacob blogging about personal finance, reading books about history, and figuring out which kind of puppy to get next. Follow him on Twitter to keep up with him!

How to Help in the Wake of Racial Violence

Hi, friends! It’s been a hell of a month. Between rumblings from North Korea, Twitter being full of fast-and-furious news updates, the aftermath of Charlottesville, and Steve Bannon getting Apprentice’d, there’s a lot to absorb. And to top it all off, hurricane Harvey is wreaking havoc on an enormous scale. Cities and communities in our country are being devastated by natural disasters and racial violence.

In response to Harvey, absolutely donate what you can. Focus on monetary donations instead of supplies at first, because the postal service doesn’t have boats and the highways aren’t exactly great right now. Check on your friends on the coast, and offer asylum if you are local-ish and on higher ground.

In the wake of Charlottesville, things might be a little more hazy when you’re overwhelmed by wanting to help but not sure where to start. If you’re white and hundreds of miles away like me, you may be asking yourself if there’s anything practical you can do. Because clicking the share button a couple dozen times a day never feels like enough, right?

Now, there’s all the usual stuff. Contact your representatives, at all levels of government, tell them what you think of the job they’re (not) doing. If there’s a march or a demonstration you can get to and you’re able to make it, get off your duff and show up. Share the petitions & donation pages & articles, focus on that signal boost, because it really does make a difference.

Safety pin on the collar? Pass.

Get your phone out and record what’s going on when the local PD are giving your Hispanic neighbor a hard time? Absolutely.

Wear your best interview attire to the counter-protest and park your lily-white self between that group of LGBTQ/black folks/Jewish folks/Muslims/etc? Go for it. Let the white supremacists try to sell *that* photo.

Can’t march, for whatever reason? No problem. Offer to babysit for people who want to go but can’t because they have kids. Offer to make or buy food/drinks for support personnel, especially medics.

Take a street-medic/first-responder course and be ready if you’re needed. Take a look at what you do for a living, and what you do in your off hours, and see how that can be used to lift up people with fewer advantages than you.

But what else? What about when you don’t have a dime to spare, and you’re already doing all that stuff? Or if you do have cash to burn, you’re doing all that stuff and donating, and still have that nagging sense that you could be doing more. (Hint: we can always be doing more.)

Let’s talk about redirecting money we already spend to businesses owned by the people you want to support. 

According to public data available on www.bls.gov (that’s the US Dept of Labor, Statistics division), black people as a demographic have the highest unemployment rate in the country at 7.4%, followed by Hispanic/Latino folx at 5.1%, and Asian populations at 4%. White people, by comparison, slot in at 3.8% unemployment overall. (Yes, those statistics break down further when you get into gender and education, but that’s another blog!) Are you following me here, readers? The unemployment rate among black people is consistently, over decades of recorded data, twice that experienced by white people.

Why do jobs matter when we’re talking about buying? Per www.thepresidentscouncil.com, black-owned businesses are the second largest employer of African-Americans after the government. Other minorities and marginalized groups follow similar trends. By redirecting our spending (the money we spend anyway on the things we already buy) to businesses owned by the people we’re trying to support, we help to create more stable employment opportunities, reducing joblessness and raising financial security in marginalized communities. The President’s Council site offers a mailing list wherein you can receive news about events & programs, and includes a monthly show-case listing of black-owned businesses. (Yes, they ask for your digits. Entering all zeroes works. Sign up! Go, do it now! No, seriously, faster than that!)

Check out the twitter campaign for #buyblack and the #buyblackchallenge. 

Especially right now, when there’s lots of seasonal shopping going on for school supplies, new clothes, fall & winter gear. When take-out might be happening more often because of after-school activities. When you might be getting hair & nails done for homecoming some other school-related function. Use this time to think about where you spend your money, and how you can redirect it to communities that fight oppression on a scale us white folks will never understand.

“But I do most of my shopping online”, you say? NO problem. Check out https://webuyblack.com/

According to their About page, “WeBuyBlack.com is an online marketplace for Black owned businesses to showcase and sell their products to a global community.” And it is a pretty stinkin’ impressive marketplace, folks. They have an incredible range of products, clothes, home décor, jewelry, books, toys, bath products, school supplies, cleaning products, even shelf-stable foodstuffs, and more.

The point of all of this? Get on Google and find opportunities to use your wallet where it will do the most good. Support minority-owned businesses anywhere and every time you can. And research those businesses, make sure they’re actually owned by the people you’re wanting to support, rather than white people hiring based on race to make it “look” right. (Gross, yeah? Gross.) Ordering lunch for that business meeting? See if there’s a local Mexican place with good reviews. Buying school clothes? Find out who owns the local mom&pop clothier’s. Or the office supply place, the car repair franchise where you get your oil changed, the bookstore, the grocery, the salon where you get your nails done.

And don’t get hung up on trying to shift all your spending to minority-owned businesses all at once. Pick one thing this month. Say, school supplies. Take that money you’d spend at Walmart and try to find a better place to put it. Then next month, add another thing, then another, you get the idea. 

Like it or not, we live in a capitalist society, and money talks. The Almighty Dollar can accomplish a lot, when it’s spent with intent. What’s your intent? Put some thought into where your money goes, and see if you can send it to places where it will help people. Click Share on all those articles and fundraisers and awareness links… and then do the research and vote with your wallet.