Waging Fiscal Resistance: Protecting the Republic with An Economic Boycott

 In Spending

R esistance can take many forms and unsurprisingly, I’m partial to the economic boycott as a form of activism. The lasting damage of an economic boycott may sometimes just be reputational, but targeting companies often results in at least a public concession, and Grab Your Wallet‘s latest claims of victory provide hope that there is a cumulative effect to individuals who ban together and divert their money en masse. With the events that have transpired since January 20, I’ve had to rethink how best to use money according to my values. I didn’t think shopping could be a political act, but this administration and its acolytes has made it clear that they support bigotry, misogyny, racism, inequality, environmental destruction, and most unforgiving of all: white supremacism. Those who side with or stay silent on the antics of our Cheetoh-in-Chief and his cronies do not deserve my money for their policies harm not just individuals, but the very principle of independence. Today’s post looks at how resistance can be waged via an economic boycott. Yes we can wield our money more wisely in an era of political extremism.

Vote with Your Wallet

T his blog stresses conscious spending as the bedrock of financial independence, and it is fortuitously also a bedrock in the economic resistance. #deleteuber has been making its rounds in the wake of the firm’s unintended response to the immigration ban, and this is precisely the kind of activity that illustrates the effect of an economic boycott. If you don’t support what a company is doing, the values it stands for, or the silence it maintains on topics that matter to you, don’t give them your money. Uber isn’t the only ride in town, and if another company provides a similar service but aligns with your values, they deserve your patronage.

I t’s impossible to have a completely  clean budget. Take Amazon for example: if you were really principled, you’d stop doing business with it because it sells Trump family merchandise. But honestly, you harm yourself in the long run by refusing to transact with Amazon because they offer other benefits that you do enjoy and it owns the Washington Post which has been one of the few bastions of principled journalism. The smarter economic boycott involves withholding your money in a targeted fashion and rewarding businesses that do the right thing.

S pending money wisely is time-consuming but not really more difficult.  It requires each of us to research the products and services that we allow into our lives and at least for me, is a vital consumption controlling mechanism as I don’t find that many things that pass my requirements. Buycott and Buy Partisan are two ways to check whether your purchase aligns with your values, and Grab Your Wallet obviously hyper targets the monkeys running this country. An economic boycott may not be what business leaders want, but those who side with inclusion, tolerance, and the belief that every life matters have nothing to fear.

A nd while we’re at it: spend those vacation dollars in places that welcome you. Who wants to fear for their safety or be heckled when on holiday? Not me. My dollars could have helped any number of red states in this country, but I will send none of my money except my mandated federal taxes to them. Hell I was thinking of going to Big Sky Country this year, but Canada is calling. Under any other regime, this would not have been an issue, but today, all those votes for this administration mean that those citizens have taken a stand on the wrong side of history and I will not enrich them further. Besides, I’m incredulous at how many people in this country think money grows on trees and that they are owed something. Clearly they don’t understand that my tax money is redistributed and goes to help those in need. I don’t brook ingratitude, so no, what I could have spent on vacation is not going to prop up communities who support mentally ill patients being able to buy guns freely.

T he good news is: you always have options, and you don’t have to have the perfect answer off the bat. My skincare regimen for example took nearly four years to finalize because it wasn’t clear which products would work for me and could stand up to the environmental standards I imposed, yet now, I’ve perfected the procurement process and only have to worry about it once a year. Take a stand with your wallet – it’s the most direct impact you can have.

Donate to Institutions that Do Work You Care About

W ith the money you save from decreased consumption, consider funneling it to institutions that do work on behalf of causes you care about. It’s clear to me that the Trump administration is all about racism, lies, and inequality.  This level of injustice does not sit well with me as it is un-American behavior of the lowest form. So this year, I’ve had to rethink how to prioritize charitable contributions. My money does me no good when my rights aren’t guaranteed, and there is a need to shore up institutions that can more effectively resist the nonsense of this regime. Those baubles that I would normally engage with seem so meaningless in light of the potential eradication of my beliefs. This is where I’m channeling recurring contributions this year:

  • Independent Media: I subscribe to the New York Times and the Economist, but also know that there are other independent platforms that are worthy of your dollars such as the Washington Post (you can receive a free 6-month subscription if you have an Amazon Prime account). Now more than ever, the truth matters. Decisions should only be made based on hard facts.
  • Healthcare: I am lucky to have excellent healthcare coverage, but know that many in this country do not. Planned Parenthood has my funding this year, especially since the revocation of the Affordable Care Act could make things worse for millions of Americans. One of the leading causes of bankruptcy and financial ruin are healthcare bills, so I believe that affordable healthcare is a human right.
  • Civil Rights: ACLU did good last weekend in fighting against the immigration order. As other liberties are threatened, I’ll look to them to lead the fight.
    • If you’re seeking tax-deductible donations, just know that ACLU accepts donations for two entities: the ACLU foundation (tax-deductible), and the ACLU (non-tax deductible). The difference is that the foundation cannot engage in lobbying work (which is the right thing to do….not that this administration knows or care about what’s right and wrong).
  • Environmental Protection: Environmental Defense Fund focuses on mitigating climate change, restoring the ocean’s bounty, protecting wildlife and their habitats, and safeguarding our health. Two other organizations that I’im considering donating to are The Sierra Club and the National Park Service.

Mind Your Taxes

W e’re once again slammed by the marriage penalty and have been researching what can be done about this inequitable issue. If we were not married and filed separately, we would both retain thousands of dollars, and with our taxes now potentially going to a useless wall (that already exists) or an unnecessary war, I can’t justify forking over any more tax revenue than necessary. Note that I have no problem paying more taxes when it means providing tangible benefits to those in need – the tax increase when the Affordable Care Act was implemented is a proper use of my taxes because those who need something so basic would benefit. What  this administration is looking to fund makes no sense to me.

W e do not plan to own property and will certainly not do so as long as this administration is in office in case fleeing becomes necessary, so we struggle to see any economic upside to being married. In fact, we even added a fake dependent to our returns to test the generosity of the tax code and we only save $800 on our taxes IF we fictitiously also spend $25,000 in childcare costs.

There are three alternatives to the traditional marriage:

  • Divorce
  • Divorce by December 31 and remarry in January of the following year
  • Convert a traditional marriage to a cohabitation agreement, domestic partnership, or civil union. You will need a living will to cover hospitalization/medical decision making.

D ivorce is radical and not a consideration to take lightly. I wish we had been better informed about exactly how marriage would impact our economic well-being. As it stands, the tax code punishes ambitious couples who both want to climb the career ladder. If I take an official side job and am paid as a non-employee for example, the earnings from that job are taxed at 49.1% – this would cheapen anyone’s resolve to work harder which by all accounts seems to be the way to achieve the American Dream. This question is an open one, but if you are affected by the marriage penalty, don’t agree with where your taxes are going, and agree to the terms of the legal partnership you form with your partner, this is one economic boycott strategy that you will benefit from.

Our 2017 Money Strategy

W e’re maxing out all our tax shields which means I’m capping out market investments at $54,000 this year and contributing the maximum to my FSA. For the first time, all leftover funds are being diverted into a savings account instead of being redeployed into the market, despite the miserly interest rates that still prevail.

I am hedging by putting some new money in the market, but I’m also preparing in case we need to start over somewhere else. There is simply too much political uncertainty, and anything could happen with our Cheetoh-in-Chief who takes great pleasure in riling up allies and enemies alike. Buying real estate makes no sense to me given the heightened risk of war and the fact that property will lock you in to your chosen community at a time when having choices matters even more. I wish I had alternative investment vehicles to recommend, but aside from investing your money into a side business, I’ve got nothing constructive to say about how to leverage extra funds.

M y money is worth little to me if this country falls, so while I’m already planning emergency escape routes in case my safety is threatened, I am also joining the resistance. January was an unprecedented month for me with an utter collapse in my spending – I barely broke the $1,000 barrier and that’s with a majority of spending dedicated to our communal groceries and utilities. I was way too depressed to buy anything. Money is a tool, and collectively, every dollar adds up. Though small, thousands of paper cuts inflict the same amount of suffering as a heart attack. Wielding our wallets is one impactful way to join the resistance. The economic boycott may be silent, but a scream doesn’t need to be loud to be heard.

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