If you give to charity, chances are you’ve got a little extra disposable income.

Meanwhile, there are countless small businesspeople in your community, many of them just scraping by. They lament the difficulty of attracting clientele away from the big box stores, the chains, the corporate companies who always seem to know how to make everything more convenient, cheaper, and better known.cobbler

But often, these small businesspeople are producing products and services that, in a straight comparison of quality, easily rival the big boys. Also, they hire local people and are less likely to grind them down on salary, benefits and hours. They are your neighbours. They are risking their financial lives to bring you something they believe in.

So why not take some of that money and support them, instead of giving it to charity?

Do you have anything in your closet that doesn’t fit right? Take it to the nearest tailor. Are you tired of housecleaning? Take a chance on the lady down the street who runs a maid service out of her house. Are you at all curious about the ethnic deli two blocks over that makes it own sausage? Splurge on that.

You might find a new favourite food, the household help that frees you up, or the resource that transforms your old clothes into a new wardrobe. This do-gooder strategy could end up being downright luxurious in the process.

Believe it or not, this is how to fight poverty, urban decay, and unemployment. Hunting for the lowest price on food, clothes, and other goods and services while simultaneously lamenting the death of downtown and the disappearance of the middle class is a bit like complaining of the cold while sitting on a block of ice. In spite of that, it’s become common practice in our society. But there’s no good reason that those of us with a little extra money can’t start reversing that trend.

So good ahead: spoil yourself, and spoil your community.