There’s a common misunderstanding that local choices for food, art, crafts, entertainment, clothing, furniture and services cost more.
That simply isn’t the case.
But, if you are an unaware shopper, not paying attention to prices or what’s in-or-out-of season, you could definitely stumble upon an overpriced asparagus or cabinet maker. That has everything to do with your shopping behaviours, not the prices charged by local vendors.
Buying local keeps your money in the community where you live. Those dollars are then reinvested back into your neighbourhood and that makes your city more awesome. It also reduces the ecological footprint that heavy transportation, manufacturing and harmful byproducts have on our planet.
That’s why people buy local. And, of course, when it comes to food, there’s just no way that the taste of an un-ripened tomato from Costco can beat the taste of a plump ripe heirloom tomato grown in your community garden.
Like anything in life, if you’re looking for the top-end sofa, cheeses or cookware, you’re going to find a top-end price. So, apply these 5 budgeting principles to your local purchases so you don’t blow the doors off your bank account.
How much is your weekly grocery budget? What can you afford to pay your electrician to install light fixtures? What amount is too much for vintage snake-skin shoes? If you haven’t crunched the numbers and compared prices, you shouldn’t be shopping for anything at all. You’ll overspend.
2 – Negotiate
Don’t be a jerk to your local vendor, but if you seriously think that the price is too high, ask for a lower one. You’re handy-man might offer a suggestion for how to reduce the amount of hours it will take him to paint your bedroom if, for example, you do all the taping and trim in advance. And your butcher might cut you a break if you pay cash versus swiping your credit card.
3 – Get the local low-down
I know that at 4pm at my local farmer’s market, the vendors drop their prices. They don’t want to bring their produce home. That’s when I show up. They’ll also provide quality recommendations for just about anything I need including what’s in-season and often overlooked by busy shoppers. If you want to know where to shop, just ask a local vendor. That’s how I uncovered where to buy chicory and who to hire to fix the tiny little springs for rolling blinds.
4 – Experiment
Open-mindedness can save you a fortune. You might have had your heart set on an IKEA kitchen, but if you asked your local carpenter to come over and quote your space, you might find the prices competitive and the measurements to be ultra precise. Say goodbye to tiny spaces between your dishwasher and refrigerator encasement.
5 – Don’t buy S&%t you don’t need
The biggest budget buster is useless accumulation of stuff…and eating out. Stuff, even if it’s sourced locally, will never make you happy. It might spike adrenaline for a day or two, but that’s it. Before you make a purchase, ask yourself whether it’s a need or a want and whether you’d be better off saving that money for something more meaningful like adopting a kitten or traveling to France.
Lesley-Anne Scorgie is the founder of MeVest. She is the bestselling author of Modern Couple’s Money Guide, Rich by 30 & Well-Heeled. She’s appeared on Oprah and is a popular columnist. Lesley-Anne has won Canada’s Top 40 Under 40 and Top 100 Most Powerful Women.