There is a certain amount of money we spend in our day to day lives and first year of home ownership. With everything going on in our economy I've decided to be more purposeful in where my money goes. This isn't general PF talk, looking at what my money is spent on, but literally where my money ends up.
The most important thing to me is to spend money in the places I would like to see weather this storm. When I need to make a purchase my first choice is a local business. I was watching public access the other day (yes, I'm a nerd) and our mayor said something like more than 70% of money spent at local businesses stays in the city. It's like dollars bouncing around in a pin ball machine. I can't find exact numbers, but everything I've read says more money stays in your area if you buy from a local business vs. national chain. So that's great for our local economy.
Then I try to shop within my city limits. I live on the border of my city, between 2 others, in a metro area. Work, volunteering, and life take me all over my city and the surrounding areas. But as much as possible I try to shop in my city. Sales taxes in my city fund the services I use- the libraries, recreation centers, etc. In a round about way they also fund a portion of my salary.
Finally I shop at the areas that are most convenient to my home. If I have a choice between Target near work or Target near home, I choose the one near home. Every once in a while this breaks the city limits rule, but businesses that don't take a lot of resources to reach are also important.
I told a friend about this and she said I'm being a bit neurotic. I acknowledged that it may seem that way, but I have a vested interest in my neighborhood surviving. This spirals upward, encompassing my city, metro area, state, and the US all doing well. Since I'm not in a position to spend lots of money to help the economy thinking about purchases in with this framework helps me feel like I'm doing what little I can for my community.