Vote with your dollar

By McKenzie Oviatt | Broadcast Repoter

College students have more of a political voice than we might think. We rarely get the opportunity to vote, but we can voice our beliefs everyday. Voting with our dollar is often an overlooked power we possess. “Voting with our dollar” is a phrase used to describe people who use their finances to back their political ideology or ethical beliefs.

As kids grow up, they gradually accept more and more responsibilities. With that comes more choices and eventually, more financial decisions. The more financial opportunities people face, the more conscious we need to be about what is worth our money. I think most people start taking their budget more seriously when they get their first job, start paying rent and having substantial bills. However, being a purposeful consumer has already started. Mainly, with the decision on where to attend college. We were given choices between hundreds of universities, yet we chose Baylor. Choosing to attend Baylor entails a substantial financial decisions; since for most, the cost of tuition is extremely expensive.

When considering going to Baylor I thought about how its mission statement might line up with my ethics. I considered the community outreach programs it initiates. I thought about how Baylor would shape me into who I want to become, and where it will take me in my future career. At the end up the day, I had to ask myself if Baylor was worth the tuition cost, if it was worth my time and if it was going to bring value to my life. Looking back, I am completely satisfied with my decision to attend Baylor, and that encourages me to put that same kind of methodical process into other decisions I make.

Being a conscientious consumer has already started, but I think everyone can improve these skills. A common struggle among young students is realizing the value of the money they make, but an even bigger struggle looms: What is worth their money? Everyone has to spend money to live, but what grocery stores, restaurants and clothing companies are worth a hard-earned dollar?

As a kid, I thought people going to extremes to support or boycott a cause wasn’t making any difference. Now, I view people like my grandfather as one of the strongest, most intentional people I know. My grandfather is the biggest coffee connoisseur I know, yet he detests Starbucks. I always assumed that he thought it was too expensive or thought the beans were low-grade. Finally after asking what was wrong with Starbucks he told me that he doesn’t approve of their business platform. Starbucks decorates their stores with generic pictures and similar decorations nationwide. As an artist and an art professor, my grandfather strongly believes that Starbucks is shortcutting local artists. My grandfather has written numerous letters to the Starbucks headquarters to advocate for them to endorse local artists in each city and use small businesses to furnish the stores close to them. Since my grandfather is a huge advocate for protecting local small businesses, coffee shops, artists and furniture stores — he refuses to aid the success of Starbucks by voting for it with his dollars.

He inspires me daily to be a “bleeding heart” for the causes that I care about. Although I don’t think I will give up my Starbucks addiction, I will boycott some stores or organizations that go against my ethics. From this example, I have learned that most decisions made should undergo a vetting process to see if that business is worth my support.

My one vote may not change a political election or legislative decision, but I spend money everyday. At this age, I think it is time to take more initiative in life. Whenever we buy something, we are endorsing a company. When we listen to specific music, we are also endorsing an artist or band. Taking more initiative in life can bring a sense of freedom, independence and purpose.