How To Support Your Community Without Going Broke

In conversations we’ve had with our Facebook group and beyond about community, it’s become clear that many of us feel disconnected from our real-life communities. We’ve talked about some ways to get more involved, particularly buying local, but we wanted to offer ideas for community involvement that are cheap or free and available in most areas. What follows is our guide to staying local without going broke:

Vote
It is totally free (and completely your right) to vote, as long as you’re a United States citizen. Exercise that power and pick candidates who reflect your values, whatever they are. If you’re not yet registered, you can do so here. If you’re not sure where you vote, find out here. One surprising perk of voting? You get to talk with community members who are super involved locally. This can be an awesome in for you if you’re looking to get involved in local politics. 

Go to city council meetings
If you’re interested in local politics, head next to some city council meetings. They can be dreadfully boring, but they’re also a great way to learn about your local community’s problems. Plus, if you have a problem with small things like potholes or a stubborn landlord, a city council meeting is a great place to raise those issues. 

Go to the library
Some libraries charge a small fee for their cards, while others are completely free. With a card, you not only can access books, but also e-booksmagazines for your e-readera movie streaming service and an audiobook streaming service. Libraries are also amazing space for studying or completing work, and they often have free or cheap events, from author readings to book clubs. 

Subscribe to (or read online) local newspapers
It’s no secret that She Spends has a passion for journalism. After all, we’re two-thirds journalists. One way you can support local journalism and stay up-to-date with your community is by subscribing to a local paper. If this is cost-prohibitive, consider just reading the paper online. Some papers and websites are very focused on the number of clicks stories receive, so the more they get, the better. 

Join NextDoor or local Facebook groups
NextDoor and community Facebook groups are great ways to find things to do and freebies in your area, as well as connect with like-minded locals. They are also one of our favorite sources of entertaining fodder, because what people post in these groups ishonestly incredible

Shop locally for necessities
If you can, stay in your neighborhood when you buy things like food, prescriptions and other necessities. Shopping locally ensures that roughly 60% of your dollar stays in the local economy, plus you get to become a regular at some of your favorite spots. Similarly, work to buy fruits and veggies at your farmers market (if it’s in your budget to do so). This is not only more sustainable, but a great way to get engaged with local farms and agriculture. 

Join your community garden
On the topic of farming, look into joining a community garden. Many areas offer cheap or free plots, and gardening is a great way to meet others in your area. 

Check out your Parks Department
The Parks Department in your city (if you live in one) is another amazing source of free or cheap entertainment. Many parks offer live concerts, special festivals for holidays or children, and events like movie screenings and volunteer clean-up days. Take advantage of these offerings and you may even meet another like-minded local. Similarly, investigate your town’s recreation center. They often offer free or cheap classes on anything from cooking to language learning. 

Support a classroom on DonorsChoose
Are you thinking about donating to charity? One awesome way to do it is to fund a local classroom using DonorsChoose. You can help a teacher pay for new technology, children’s club fees or art supplies using this awesome crowdfunding platform. 

Join a sports league
You can join an adult sports league or start coaching a children’s league if you’re into sports. It’s a great way to meet people, and if you’re coaching, you’re giving back to your community.

Leverage your faith
If you’re religious, a temple, church or mosque is an incredible way to meet people and feel surrounded by those similar to you. You can also attend things like socials or support groups through your religious center, and you can often find ways to volunteer and serve your community. If you’re not religious but are exploring spirituality, look for a meditation center.

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