5 Things To Ask Yourself Before You Spend That Money You Probably Shouldn't

5 Things To Ask Yourself Before You Spend That Money You Probably Shouldn't

Proficient questions to consider before purchasing an expensive item or a thing you don't necessarily need!
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Since I just got back to college, I have been getting random urges to shop for pointless things I do not need. That being said, I decided to sit down and start a list of questions to ask myself before spending lots of money. Hopefully these tips can help you decide whether or not to buy that purse you don't need!

1. Do I really need this TODAY, RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW?

Whenever I see something such as a shirt, leggings, or even a yummy snack, I always ask myself if I need it right then and there. Most likely, the answer is no. Therefore, I get a last look at the item and continue with shopping for the necessities I originally came for!

2. Will it be useful?

Before making a large purchase, I always like to make sure that it will benefit me in the long run. Knowing that you're about to drop a lot of money on something for a useful reason is a great feeling. A couple of months ago, I invested in a heating blanket for my room and I am glad I did it because I use it every night in this cold dorm room of mine. I guess you could say that over time, I have warmed up to this bank account-breaking purchase for the better! Make sure your purchase is a good one before going all out on something rather silly.

3. Is it worth it?

Look at the item you are about to splurge on and ask yourself, "Is it really worth it?" If it is an item I really want to buy, then this thought would be out of the list, but in a case where I am debating on buying shampoo that I already have, this question is completely worth asking! I have a hard time with buying too much of one item and I ask myself this question fairly regularly because most of the time, it is not worth having three full bottles of shampoo at one time.

4. Can I get it for a cheaper price somewhere else?

View your options! If you are not very fond of that price tag, then map out your selections and try to seek out another place that has your item for a better price. Back in August, I was on the hunt for a pencil holder. First I went Target and saw the cutest case for $8.99. Then I checked out Walmart and saw a similar one for $4.99. Finding the cheapest way to go is never a bad thing, especially for us college kids!

5. Do I really like it?

The most important question to ask yourself before splurging is if you REALLY like it, especially if you're spending a lot on the item! It is never fun to purchase something expensive or something you're unable to return after you've lost interest in it.


I am trying to learn how to efficiently spend my money and save up as soon as possible for the future. These five questions have really helped me throughout my college experience and I hope they can guide you in a more proficient direction while shopping as well!

Cover Image Credit: unsplash.com

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5 Companies That Still Use Slave Labor

Let's talk about the modern slave trade.
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Growing up in a country where freedom is always a right and expectation — whether you live in the United States or one of the other 86 "free" countries — it is easy to believe that, compared to the well-known 1800s slave trade, we are doing pretty well when it comes to civil liberties, freedom, and overall social welfare. Documents such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) have been approved by the General Assembly of the United Nations, meaning that the vast majority of nations have agreed that every individual has the right to basic human dignity.

Despite this significant progress, however, there are 45.8 million people enslaved today, more than any other time in world history. The United States Department of Homeland Security has launched the Blue Campaign in light of this growing industry, hoping to raise awareness of the human trafficking that persists in local communities. Additionally, you can watch this video for a summary on the Global Slavery pandemic. I will write about the problem of human trafficking in the United States on another day; however, global slavery affects us whether it is in our city or halfway around the world. In fact, companies that you purchase from every single day use slave labor for their work instead of paying employees a fair wage.* Don't believe me?

Here are five companies that are using slave labor to make their products TODAY, and where you should shop instead.

Nestle

Nestle is one of the largest companies that has consistently carried out human rights violations all over the world. Not only did they illegally take water from California during the drought in 2015, but in the 1970s they got third-world mothers to use infant formula by selling it at reduced prices, and then when the mothers could no longer breastfeed, they raised the price of formula so much that many children were malnourished and starving.

Their most recent problems revolve around slavery in the cocoa industry. In 2009 several former child slaves sued Nestle because they were trafficked and forced to work on Nestle farms in Cote d'Ivoire. Another suit was filed by former child slaves in 2014, stating that "Studies by International Labour Organization, UNICEF, the Department of State, and numerous other organizations have confirmed that thousands of children are forced to work without pay in the Ivorian economy." In 2016, the Fair Labor Association executed an assessment of Nestle in Cote d'Ivoire. They claimed that 70% of Nestle farms were not trained on the prohibition of forced labor. Further, they stated that "there is no process in place to monitor, report, and remediate cases of forced labor at the farms." With this in mind, they did find evidence of potential forced and uncompensated labor. Additionally, they found evidence of child labor—many of these children never enrolling in school — in which children were getting paid little to nothing, and often working in dangerous conditions.

INSTEAD: buy from Ben & Jerry's or Theo. They will satisfy your sweet tooth and are Fair-Trade guaranteed.

Nike

Nike has REALLY cleaned up their act in the last several years, but with a standard of no slave labor, they still have quite a way to go. In 1992, activist Jeff Ballinger published an exposé in "Harpers" that revealed the story of a child in Indonesia working in disgusting conditions, and for a mere 14 cents per hour (far below the minimum wage in Indonesia at the time).

Since then, Nike has begun to report supply chain information. The most recent report claims that, in 2016, only 86% of their factories were up to the minimum standards they set. Though they give a good indication of how far the company has come, these standards are set by Nike and assessed internally, making it difficult to compare standards to a universal one.

INSTEAD: shop at Patagonia! All products here are Fair Trade Certified!

Starbucks

Starbucks claims a mission for ethical sourcing, meaning their company policy requires them to abide by a standard of "ethical sourcing" that they have created. They only have two Fair-Trade coffees available for purchase. After the development charity Oxfam reported that Starbucks was depriving Ethiopian coffee growers of $90 million every year, Starbucks was challenged by the public eye to “clean up their act,” and did so by creating their own “ethical sourcing” standards, that they implement themselves, and certify 99% of their coffee with. Whether or not these standards are viable, they are not Fair Trade Certified at this time.

The U.S. Department of Labor has a list of locations and goods that use forced and child labor. Starbucks lists coffees from countries such as Guatamala, Kenya, Costa Rica and Panama; however, none of these single-sourced coffees are certified by them as “Fair Trade.” Rather, they are all regions that are known to use child labor.

INSTEAD: buy the Starbucks Italian Roast and Café Estima; they are certified by Fair Trade! You can also order online from Café Justo, Jurang and Equal Exchange —entire companies dedicated to producing Fair Trade coffee.

H&M

A 2016 report stated that as of December 31, 2015, 31 out of 72 H&M suppliers were using illegal contracts. In other words, these contracts allowed for wrongful termination. Now I know what you are thinking: the current system of hiring/firing in the U.S. is full of problems, and it takes way too much work to fire a bad employee in most cases. Well, the situation in countries like Cambodia and India are a little different. Often times, employees of H&M will be forced to work for excessive overtime hours—far beyond the legal limit—with no increase in their weekly take home pay. They are also often working in sweatshop conditions, with no breaks and unsanitary environments. Moreover, the contracts allow the factory to fire a worker for refusing to work these long hours. In fact, a garment worker in Cambodia stated: "We often get sick around once a month. We don’t eat enough and work too much trying to maximize the piece rate. Also, we don’t stop to go to the bathroom. We often work through lunch breaks or go back into work early, so there is hardly any time to rest."

INSTEAD: shop at one of these other retailers that are guaranteed to have fair-trade labor!

Walmart

Well, this one is probably the least suprising yet. According to a 2016 report by the Wage Alliance on Walmart's value chain, Walmart refused to sign the 2013 Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh that 200 companies signed following the collapse of Rana Plaza. It also stated that all 14 factories in Cambodia were studied, and they all violated local overtime laws consistently, with some forcing 14 hour work days without overtime pay "in sweltering heat, without adequate supply of clean drinking water or any breaks." These same conditions were expressed by workers in factories in India, Indonesia, and Bangladesh. The report continued to list countless instances of workers given severely less than they were promised, or even cases where owners of factories fled without paying workers at all.

INSTEAD: OK, I know it's hard to pass up Walmart prices. However, here is a full list of companies that are fair trade. Even if you start small, I know you can find a way to cut back on your slavery footprint! Want to know how many slaves work for you now? Visit the Slavery Footprint mission to find out.

*I use the term “fair wage” because many people who are enslaved are trapped in a cycle of debt bondage. This means that an individual or family works for pennies per hour to pay off an ever-increasing debt. Oftentimes this debt is passed down for generations. To learn more about debt bondage and other forms of slavery, visit the non-profit End Slavery Now, here.

Cover Image Credit: iragelb / Flickr

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7 Thrifty Reasons You Should Shop At Flea Markets

Pop-ups and vendors have a little bit of everything.

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Shopping is not always fun, especially when it is for the same things you wrote a list of. Week in and week out, you find yourself frequenting those commercial brands and store chains all too often. There are better outlets to check out and the best part is, they do not require any prep time. These are the reasons to go shopping at flea markets.

1. Special finds.

Price tags can make your wallet cry bloody murder sometimes. Rather than buy that name brand collection that costs the same as your rent, buy something that fulfills the same value. Flea markets have something unique to offer and for fair prices too. The owners and vendors may even be so willing and friendly enough to negotiate costs. Whatever you buy, it will be worth every penny.

2. Bang for your buck.

Sion Dana (left) of Steampunk Curiosities and myself holding his typewriter statue.

The amount of creativity, ingenuity, and variety behind the vendors and pop-ups at open markets is hard to find anywhere else. You never know what to expect and it is something different every time you go. You may even become a loyal customer to the makers and small businesses out there.

3. Shopping without the chore.

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Shopping does not have to be a chore or a listed aim. The whole point of window shopping is to daydream about something you find of value and to humor the thought of maybe purchasing that item. Now imagine window shopping but without the window. That is what shopping at a flea market feels like; no lists directing you, just an open curiosity.

4. Shop on the go.

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Most flea markets are open during regular business hours but that does not mean you have to be the first one there come sunrise or the last one there sundown. Plan your day around it, make it a ritual to visit your local vendors and attend special events in your area. It is a good experience to spend some of your time and money on or just to share with friends and family..

5. Start small, think big.

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Small businesses are nothing short of inspiring. Their commitment to quality goods and services is unmatched compared to faceless, nationwide corporations. When you shop small and local, you get to see familiar faces you can trust and come back to without hesitation. They know their products and people intimately, and that is priceless.

6. Go for the pop-up, stay for the Gram.

Discovering something or someone new is an experience you will not forget. Capturing those moments and saving and sharing them lets you relive your market day experience. You have a good time shopping for curio while the shops and small business owners gain some new customers. Flea markets offer the best of shopping and entertainment.

7. Support local and small business.

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The dollar does not stop here. With your purchase at a local shop or small business, you are supporting the owners and quality that they can deliver, time and time again. Not only is it convenient for you as a shopper, but it is helping the community grow culturally and economically through these local, small, but unique shops.

Flea markets make up more than vintage items. They are the place where commerce and culture create better communities.

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