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Change the World One Purchase at a Time

We've all done it. Groaned when we've had to pay the $30 dry cleaning tab, or moaned for having to pay cab fare, and cried when we made the check out to the housecleaner. It's hard not to. Living takes money, and watching it dribble out just hurts sometimes.

Most people look at spending in one way and one way only ? what you get for what you spend. For example, you spend $50 and you get a comfy sweater. Spend $5 and get valet parking. You pay to get things you need, which is all well and good. Society really can't function any other way.

But you can. Looking at your spending habits in the traditional way can cause bitterness and other negative feelings occasionally. Yes, things do cost a lot, and they do add up. Sometimes it seems to go out as fast as you earn it, and for what? Food? Clothing? Pedicures? Let's propose something radical. From this moment on, stop thinking about money in the traditional way.

Let's not think about money and spending habits from the 'ME' perspective alone. When your first instinct is to say 'No, I don't really need that', try to stop doing the 'responsible' thing and start sharing the wealth. Take care of yourself as well as someone else in the process. That's the wonderful thing about spending. It affects not only you but someone else in a positive way. Here's an example: You've had a long day at work, and before you go home to cook dinner and see your family you decide to treat yourself to a manicure and pedicure.

It's a luxurious hour of silence and pampering, and the girl that helps you is sympathetic to your long day and works extra hard to make you feel special. You leave feeling refreshed and happy, and tip the girl $10. So there's nothing unusual or different about this so far, right? Sure, you're out about $60, but look what you got! You got an hour of bliss and renewal, and you've got beautiful nails to boot.

Well worth it. Now, if on your way home you start to berate yourself for spending so much, this is where we're stopping. What you need to realize is that the experience you just had and the money you spent doesn't simply involve you anymore. That girl who worked so hard to make sure you were relaxed and happy, she's part of the picture too. Look at it this way. By walking into the salon you helped her make money today.

She probably has children of her own that will eat and wear clothes that you helped provide by going and getting pampered. Maybe the tip you gave her is going in the bank to help her go back to school to get a degree, or it's going to help her kids go to school some day. It's such a simple concept, and yet almost no one stops and thinks about what their spending is doing for other people. You're helping others eat and survive with the money you spend. It's really quite amazing and wonderful. You have the power to do good with the money you spend.

Think about it. Think about the possibilities. Now, we're certainly not advocating you go out and do society a favor by maxing out your credit cards, but just by changing the way you look at your spending might make it a bit easier to get through the day. You are contributing to those around you with your buying power, especially if you shop locally and use small businesses for things you need. You're helping others live and pursue their own dreams when you buy, and remembering this every day might just make you a bit happier yourself! Copyright (c) 2007 Pat Brill.

Pat Brill is co-founder of which supports Busy Moms with free gift ideas and helpful tips to meet the challenges of motherhood. She is also co-founder of , a directory of articles covering many areas of wellness. You can reach Pat at

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