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Desert Wall Street?
How much can we stop giving to the 1%?
If the money that enriches mega-banks and mega-corporations is OUR money, how far are we willing to go to get them off of our dole?
How much control are individuals able and willing to take back?
Movements like Occupy Wall Street advocate for changes in government policies, but what can we change on a personal level? Is it possible for us to vote with our feet and Desert Wall Street?
verb (used with object)
to leave (a person, place, etc.) without intending to return . . .
Synonyms: abandon, leave, quit; forsake.
The 99% left Bank of America quaking with fear!
When Bank of America announced in 2011 that it was going to implement a $5 monthly fee for use of debit cards (making an exception, of course, for people who were wealthy enough to have $20,000 in their account), people started voting with their feet, abandoning BofA in large enough numbers that the bank reversed itself and scrapped its plans to start charging the fee. (Here's the story from Bloomberg and USAToday.)
That's the power of individuals to bring about change by taking their business elsewhere. Just like the Alabama Bus Boycott -- if we deny you our money, you won't last long.
There are other ways that we can Desert Wall Street!
Some of them are easier, and some are pretty radical. How far would you be willing to go?
Decrease our spending by sharing things
Would you be willing to share goods with other people you know as a way to decrease spending?
There are all kinds of things we own that we only use for a tiny portion of the time that we possess them.
Could we share some of them with friends and neighbors?
Books are an obvious possibility; we're only reading a few at a time out of the many books we own. CDs and DVDs. Maybe children's toys, too. What about luggage and other travel-related items? Gardening equipment?
Specialty kitchen gadgets? Costume jewelry?
If more people can make use of the same item, then everybody is buying less. More money for us, less for Wal-Mart.
Tell us in the poll whether you would be willing to do that type of sharing with the people you know.
Decrease our spending through bartering
Would you be willing to barter for more things with people you know as a way to decrease your involvement with the financial system?
Bartering has been with us throughout the history of mankind, of course. Trading goods and services with others can be done on an individual basis, or through organized bartering networks.
NOTE: The government thinks that we should pay taxes on bartering. If I gain weight and you lose weight and we decide to trade clothes with each other, or if you fix my porch and I babysit your children in return, the IRS wants us to both estimate the value of the goods and services we received from each other and count it as taxable income, even if no money changes hands. So bartering without giving Uncle Sam a piece of the action is an act of civil disobedience.
Decrease our spending by buying more things used
Would you be willing to buy more items second-hand in order to decrease your involvement in the financial system?
Every time we ditch the department store and go to the thrift store instead, we are not only decreasing the amount of money we spend, we are also decreasing the demand for the newly manufactured merchandise that is waiting for us in the big stores, offering us "sale prices" and even special deals if we'll buy it with a store credit card.
Go lower on the financial food chain by using small community banks
Would you be interested in keeping your money in smaller banks and credit unions?
Small banks and credit unions have a reputation for being more responsive to their communities, charging lower fees, having looser ties to Wall Street, and avoiding weird and risky investments.
The Move Your Money project encourages people to leave the mega-banks in favor of locally-based banks.
Avoiding credit by buying cars for cash
Would you be willing to only buy cars that you could pay for in cash?
Banks make tons of interest on car loans. And leasing is the MOST expensive way to acquire a car. The least expensive? Pay cash.
Avoid credit by paying for an education in cash
Would you be willing to pursue higher education on a cash-only basis?
Many young people (including a lot of participants in the Occupy Wall Street campaigns) emerge from college already enslaved to the system because of huge student loan debts. But there is another way.
Two articles about working your way through college:
And if it's just the knowledge that you need, not a documented diploma:
Avoiding credit by paying for housing with cash
Would you be willing to do what it takes to pay cash for your housing?
The money we pay in mortgage interest is massive. Is there a way to deny the banking system that money?
Buying a house for cash can be done, but it takes a serious amount of effort, planning, sacrifice, and patience. Here's a how-to article:
And some people decide that just continuing to rent is best, even in the long run.