Save up to support Black-owned businesses and buy your favorite products

The number of Black entrepreneurs, startups, and new businesses has been flourishing over the last year. If you count shopping among your hobbies, and supporting Black businesses among your commitments, now is your time.

It has never been easier to shop Black from home. From hand-crafted candles and journals and planners to fishing gear and paddle boards — it’s a shopper’s dream out here. You could drape yourself head to toe in Black-made hair products, headwraps, t-shirts, and sneakers.

It is also easy to spend a lot of money shopping Black from home! Because many Black-made products are hand-crafted and made of high-quality materials, they tend to be a bit more pricey than what you would get at Target. Most Black businesses also face systemic barriers in scaling and access to supply chains. So if you are being intentional about buying Black and are on a tight budget, spending might pose a challenge.

Fortunately, there is a way you can prioritize: by setting aside money each month in an account designated specifically for spending with Black business.

Plan ahead using a sinking fund 

I just purchased a bottle of nourishing hair oil from Umi’s Roots to take better care of my 4C hair in 2021. It was a small treat to myself after a 2020 with many highs and lows. It felt great to support a new product made with ingredients I know will be good for my hair, rather than heading to the drugstore in a pinch to pick up a jar of Cantu for seven bucks. But with a family of five, I can’t always afford to treat myself — and I definitely can’t always buy products that make me salivate and make me proud to support the Black business movement.

A sinking fund can help you plan for big purchases and small indulgences. “A sinking fund will have people wondering how you can afford it all,” said Melody Wright, CEO of Broke on Purpose and a certified financial educator.

The difference between a sinking fund and other savings accounts is that the former is money you set aside for a specific purpose. Sinking funds are used to save money for a car, a vacation, or home renovation. They can also be used for splurges and surprises. Let’s say you desperately need a day at a Black-owned spa; setting aside a bit of money each month for self-care means you don’t have to take $200 out of your checking account when life starts to get overwhelming. Why stress about one more thing?

“This way you don’t commingle your money,” Wright said. “You won’t feel guilty about making the purchase because you have already set aside the funds.”

How to do it

Start by opening a savings account with no minimum balance requirements. You’ll want to make sure that your Black business fund doesn’t end up costing you money if the balance is at zero. A high-yield savings account can increase the amount of money in your sinking fund over time.

You can designate the account to receive money from your paycheck, or you can automate a transfer from your checking account to your sinking fund every month. Naming the account is important; seeing “Shop Black Fund” every time you open your financial dashboard will serve as a reminder of this priority.

When I bought Umi’s Roots, I felt guilty for making an impulse purchase; had I begun setting aside just $15 a month starting last June, I would have saved $120 and not even thought twice about it. Now, I have a handmade mixture of all-natural ingredients formulated specifically for my hair like mine — the bottle even gives wash day instructions — instead of a jar of whatever was on sale at the drugstore. (Cantu is owned by PDC Brands, whose CEO is a white male and began acquiring brands like Cantu with major private-equity backing.)

Figure out how much money each month you are comfortable setting aside for supporting Black-owned businesses, and set up a sinking fund solely for that purpose. You will feel better about your ability to buy Black, know you are receiving quality products made with you in mind, and sustain the purchasing power needed to meaningfully circulate your dollars with our community.