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What I LearnedFor the last three years I have been fully committed to buying American. That means barring certain circumstances when buying American is simply not possible, I have purchased nothing but goods made in the USA.

I started buying American as New Year’s resolution in 2010 and have been doing it ever since.  After doing a bit of research, here is the buy American program I chose to follow.

I must say, this experience has been extremely rewarding because I know every time I make a purchase I am doing my part to create jobs in America at a time so many are in need of work.

Here are three surprising things I learned in my experience buying American:

  1. Buying American Saves Money – I never would have believed it before I started buying American, but faithfully buying made in USA absolutely saves money.  Mind you, not every item is less expensive, because sometimes you do have to pay a bit of a premium, but on the whole I have saved money by buying American.  There are two main reasons for this.  First, buying American cuts down considerably on the purchases you make of things you don’t need.  You save money because you make fewer impulse purchases.  Second, buying American forces you to do more research on the things you do buy.  Once you’ve taken the time to research where to find a certain good that is American made, it’s a natural next step to find that same good for the best price possible.  I find better deals now than I ever did before I started buying American.
  2. Buying American Does Not Require Deprivation – I never would have believed this before either, but buying American does not leave you feeling deprived all the time.  Practically everything I buy is American made, and my experience has been so good that I have no plans to change that.  But the key to avoiding the feeling of deprivation is to allow for the purchase of a few imported goods when the right circumstances call for it.  The whole point of buying American is to use your buying power to support jobs here in America, but there is no need to refuse necessities – like cell phones for example – that simply cannot be found made in the USA.  The buy American program I follow allows for several key exceptions to the buy American rule.  Those exceptions make staying on a buy American program possible.  Going cold turkey won’t work.
  3. Buying American Becomes Easy to Do – In the first couple days of a strict buy American program, it can be difficult.  It’s similar to cutting out carbs or gluten from your diet for the first time (if you’ve ever tried that).  At first, it is a real shock.  But after a while, you get the hang of it.  At first, you go to stores and it seems like everything you plan on putting into your cart is imported and off-limits.  But after a little while, you cycle through all the regular items you have to buy frequently, and you just know which brands are made in USA and which aren’t.  I didn’t know at first, but I now know I buy certain batteries, sponges, socks, etc., all that are American made.  Once you’ve done the research the first time, which often requires nothing more than looking at the fine print on packages, buying American becomes simple.  Buying American doesn’t start out easy, but it definitely becomes easy before long.

Please consider joining our growing Buy American Movement.

Until next time, here’s to doing what we can to support our country by buying American.

Randy

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Documentary Filmmaker Josh Miller, along with his three companions, has completed three days of his journey to buy and use nothing but American-made goods, and by the looks of things, Josh is really starting to struggle.

Important to note is that Josh chose to adopt the strictest possible interpretation of what it means to buy American, a plan I do not recommend, and you’ll see why.  He is literally refusing to use anything not made in the USA.  That means showering with a hose because practically no showerheads are made in USA (but this one is), using a portable bathroom because he couldn’t find an American-made toilet, and so on.  Josh has really gone COLD TURKEY.

Here it from Josh himself in this YouTube clip:

The Buy American Challenge, which is the plan I have been on for the last two years (I just had my second buy American birthday this week. Don’t I get a pin or something?). This is a realistic buy American program that anyone can follow.  Best of all it doesn’t require the kind of severe deprivation that Josh is dealing with. 

I’m hoping that as Josh continues on his journey, he will make peace with the fact that avoiding all imported goods is just not realistic.  I’m hoping he will adopt these Buy American Challenge program guidelines as a realistic alternative. 

I believe that if we are going to have a thriving Buy American Movement in this country, we need a common plan that most of the people committed to buying American are on.  It needs to be simple, it needs to be easy to follow, and most importantly, it needs to be realistic! 

You can follow Made in the USA: The 30 Day Journey at these sights:  30 Day Journey Webpage, 30 Day Journey Facebook Page, 30 Day Journey Twitter Page, 30 Day Journey YouTube Page

Once again, here are the guidelines of the Buy American program I recommend:

 Buy American Challenge Guidelines:

  1. Buy only American-made finished products or American-grown or -raised foods.
  2. Items you buy may have parts, materials, and content that is not American-made, -grown, or -raised.
  3. Items you buy may be made in America by foreign-owned or multinational corporations.
  4. This challenge applies only to one’s own personal purchase decisions, not those made for households, groups, businesses, associations, or for one’s profession.
  5. Embarking on this challenge should be done willingly.  No one should ever be obligated or forced into buying American-made.
  6. This challenge applies only to purchases you make going forward.  Any puchases made in the past are in the past. 

Exceptions to the Buy American Challenge Guidelines:

  1. One, of course, may buy a specific foreign-made product if a doctor, dentist, or other medical expert prescribes or recommends it.  Example: If your dentist says you need a fancy foreign-made tooth brush, don’t worry about it, just get it.
  2. One may buy a specific foreign-made product if the item is simply not made, grown, or raised in the United States, and the item does not have a suitable replacement that is made, grown, or raised in the United States.  Example 1: A lot of electronics just aren’t made in the U.S.A. anymore.  If you can’t find what you want American-made, don’t worry about it.  Example 2: There is no such thing as an American-grown banana.  No worries, you can still eat them.  Example 3: There is no American-made “Champagne” because to be called Champagne it must have been produced in the Champagne region of France.  However, their are plenty of high quality American-made substitutes that are virtually identical to Champagne, but when they are made in America they are called “sparkling wine.”  This is the kind of item that is not the same, but does have a suitable replacement. 
  3. One may buy a specific foreign-made or -grown product if one is for some reason required to buy a specific item.  Example: If your professor assigns a specific foreign-made calculator to use for a class, don’t worry about it, just get it.
  4. One may buy a foreign-made item if it is urgently needed, and time or proximity preclude one from buying an American-made version of the item.  Example: You are really thirsty, and the only water available is bottled in France.  Don’t worry about it, just get it.
  5. If one has a kinship with another country other than the U.S.A., he or she should feel free to buy items made, grown, or raised in that country as well.  Example: Let’s say you have Irish heritage and like to buy things made in Ireland from time to time.  Go right ahead continue doing that.
  6. One is allowed five “cheat items” (or more if you really need more).  These are items that one may have an existing attachment to.  If you simply can’t live without a specific foreign-made good, you can continue to purchase it.  Example: Let’s say you just love Swiss chocolate.  You can, of course, continue to buy your chocolate as often as you would like. 

Until next time, here’s to doing what we can to support our country by buying American.

Randy

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(This is a repost from an article I wrote several months back, but since Christmas is around the corner, I thought it would be a good idea to repost it.)

Buying American when gift-giving presents an interesting dilemma.  A person may be passionate about buying American when purchasing items for their own use, but how does that apply when buying gifts for others?

I have been in this place many times in the last year, and my advice is to use your best judgment and err on the side of buying gifts that the gift-recipient(s) will actually enjoy above gifts you might buy because they are made in the U.S.A. 

The guidelines of the Buy American Challenge say that buying American only applies to you.  It does not apply to friends and family you might be buying gifts for.  So, if your nephew asks for certain pair of imported sneakers for his birthday, just get them and don’t even worry about it.  Refusing to buy gifts that are not made in the U.S.A. has the potential to anger people who do not particularly care where the things they want are made.  Although I do not share that point of view, I respect people who have it, even if they are a brother, daughter, or significant other.

This changes when the gifts are intended for you.  If you would only buy goods made in the U.S.A. for yourself, why shouldn’t you ask the same of people buying gifts for you?  When I have a birthday coming up, and I know people will be shopping for me, I always circulate a list (electronic list with links) of American-made things I would like to receive as gifts.  Not only does this make things much easier for friends and family buying gifts for you, but it also ensures you will get the American-made things you really want.  It also allows you to price-shop online ahead of time to save those buying gifts for you some cash.  Most importantly, it is a great opportunity to educate the people in your life about all the great things that are made in the U.S.A.  In my experience, people are generally happy to buy gifts that you have suggested for them to buy, and they are generally pleasantly surprised at all the high-quality, reasonably-priced, American-made things on the list. 

Actually, regardless of whether you buy American or not, I suggest sending gift wish-lists out. Putting out a list of potential gifts is a win-win for everyone.  Nobody likes to wander through the mall, picking things up, and trying to find something you think a person might like.  A list takes all the guesswork out of it.  Just be sure that it is clear your list is of options for potential gifts, and not a list of all the things you expect to get for the occasion.   My first list I sent to my family raised eyebrows when they thought I expected to get every gift on the list, and I had listed about 20 things listed. 

One important thing to keep in mind is that American-made goods sometimes cost more than imported goods.  You may have received a $30 pair of jeans in years past from a certain person.  If you send them a list of American-made gifts, make sure the list consists of items in the $30 price-range.  Don’t send them a link to $100 American-made jeans and expect them to buy those for you.  By the way, this is just an example of the kind of predicament you might discover.  In fact, American-made jeans can be found for $30.  Here is a link to beautiful pair from a great company called All American Clothing: http://www.allamericanclothing.com/products/AA301.html

One time you should go ahead and buy a gift made in the U.S.A. for someone else is when no specific gift has been requested and you are reasonably sure that an American-made gift will be liked just as much as an imported good.  I don’t think my dad particularly cares what brand of jeans he gets as a gift.  So if I know he wants jeans, I would absolutely buy a pair of American-made jeans for him.  This is another great opportunity to show those around you what great American-made products there are available.  Maybe some of these gifts will turn into brand loyalty and/or increased interest in buying American.  Don’t miss the opportunity to give American-made gifts when the chance presents itself.

Here is one final thought on buying American with regard to friends and family.  Sometimes those close to me buy imported things that they are very excited about, especially if they spent a good deal of money on the item, like a fancy jacket or watch.  When this happens, I make it a point to show exactly the same enthusiasm I would have shown if I didn’t care about buying American.  Remember, buying American only applies to you.  That means not judging others when they get things they want.  Show those around you the respect of sharing in their excitement as you would if buying American was not a priority of yours.  It will be appreciated. 

I hope you will find this gift-giving advice useful.  I would love to hear what you all think about these guidelines for American-made gift-giving.  Have you ever been in one of these gift-giving scenarios?  What did you choose to do?  Were you pleased with your choice afterward?

Until next time, here’s to doing what we can to support our country by buying American.

Randy

P.S. If you are looking for a great American made clothing brand, check out Made in USA Threads!

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If there’s one thing Americans do very well it’s consume. We like shopping.  We like going to the mall or Target and coming home with whatever our hearts desire, regardless of where it was made. Although this kind of buying behavior can be damaging to our economy and our country, changing this behavior is easier said than done.

In the last year and a half of actively living and advocating a buy American lifestyle, I have learned a lot about what to do, and what not to do, in persuading those around me, like friends and family, to buy American.  Here are a few key tips:

1)  Never make others feel guilty about their current buying habits.  Whether it’s friends, family, coworkers, or anyone else, the key is to talk about the reasons you buy American with no judgment on others who currently don’t. Others will be much more receptive to the concept of buying American when using this approach.

2)  Be as committed as possible to buying American yourself.  When those around you see that you are genuinely committed to buying American they will begin to take the idea more seriously.  Few will be moved to consider a commitment to buying American if they think your commitment to buying American is a passing fad.  It’s got to be perceived as permanent to have an impact on those around you.

3) Blog, tweet, or make Facebook posts about buy American topics.  Social media are great tools to put out useful information about the topic of buying American.  These messages can reinforce other messages your friends and family are already hearing about buying American.  It is also a no-judgment way to talk about the personal and societal benefits of buying American.  The buy American movement depends on effective communication, and new media, like blogs, Facebook, and Twitter, are the key to effective communication today and for the foreseeable future. Embrace these tools.

4) Let others bring up the topic of buying American with you.  When I first started strictly buying American and blogging about it, I told all my friends and family about what I was doing.  I asked them to follow my blog, follow my tweets, become a Facebook fan of Buy American Challenge, and that sort of thing.  After that, I backed off on bringing the topic of buying American up for discussion.  I found that friends and family started asking me about buying American instead of me having to bring it up with them.  If you want buying American to spread, my advice is let people know why you are buying American initially, then back off.  However, continue to keep the topic visible if you can.  I drive an American car, wear Made in USA clothing, and blog about buying American regularly.  Those who want to talk about buying American know they can bring it up with me anytime, and they frequently do.

5) Be a resource for those who have questions about buying American.  When folks first start to think about buying American, they have lots of questions.  Where can they find American-made products they need?  What about products not found made in USA anymore?  What about imported products they just can’t even think about giving up?  A good place to start in addressing these concerns is to give people the guidelines of the Buy American Challenge.  This is an easy-to-follow buy American program that anyone can follow.  I suggest printing out a copy and giving it to people who are showing interest as a suggestion of where to start if they decide to give buying American a try.  Additionally, offer to be available for advice on hard-to-find items.  If you ever get stumped, and can’t find a particular item made in USA, contact me and I’ll help you out.  Believe it or not, almost all products can still be found made in USA, you just need to know where and how to look for them.

Follow these five tips and you will be well on your way to spreading buy American through your social network.  Remember, for buying American to have a really meaningful impact on job creation in this country, we need to grow the movement. One person’s decision to buy American, though admirable for the principle of it, doesn’t mean much in terms of job creation.  It’s not going to create millions of jobs like we want it to.  But when thousands or even millions of people start demanding American-made products it will have a major impact on job creation. 

If you are committed to buying American yourself, commit to doing what you can to grow the movement as well.

Until next time, here’s to doing what we can to support our country by buying American.

Randy

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Buying American when gift-giving presents an interesting dilemma.  A person may be passionate about buying American when purchasing items for their own use, but how does that apply when buying gifts for others?

I have been in this place many times in the last year, and my advice is to use your best judgment and err on the side of buying gifts that the gift-recipient(s) will actually enjoy above gifts you might buy because they are made in the U.S.A. 

The guidelines of the Buy American Challenge say that buying American only applies to you.  It does not apply to friends and family you might be buying gifts for.  So, if your nephew asks for certain pair of imported sneakers for his birthday, just get them and don’t even worry about it.  Refusing to buy gifts that are not made in the U.S.A. has the potential to anger people who do not particularly care where the things they want are made.  Although I do not share that point of view, I respect people who have it, even if they are a brother, daughter, or significant other.

This changes when the gifts are intended for you.  If you would only buy goods made in the U.S.A. for yourself, why shouldn’t you ask the same of people buying gifts for you?  When I have a birthday coming up, and I know people will be shopping for me, I always circulate a list (electronic list with links) of American-made things I would like to receive as gifts.  Not only does this make things much easier for friends and family buying gifts for you, but it also ensures you will get the American-made things you really want.  It also allows you to price-shop online ahead of time to save those buying gifts for you some cash.  Most importantly, it is a great opportunity to educate the people in your life about all the great things that are made in the U.S.A.  In my experience, people are generally happy to buy gifts that you have suggested for them to buy, and they are generally pleasantly surprised at all the high-quality, reasonably-priced, American-made things on the list. 

Actually, regardless of whether you buy American or not, I suggest sending gift wish-lists out. Putting out a list of potential gifts is a win-win for everyone.  Nobody likes to wander through the mall, picking things up, and trying to find something you think a person might like.  A list takes all the guesswork out of it.  Just be sure that it is clear your list is of options for potential gifts, and not a list of all the things you expect to get for the occasion.   My first list I sent to my family raised eyebrows when they thought I expected to get every gift on the list, and I had listed about 20 things listed. 

One important thing to keep in mind is that American-made goods sometimes cost more than imported goods.  You may have received a $30 pair of jeans in years past from a certain person.  If you send them a list of American-made gifts, make sure the list consists of items in the $30 price-range.  Don’t send them a link to $100 American-made jeans and expect them to buy those for you.  By the way, this is just an example of the kind of predicament you might discover.  In fact, American-made jeans can be found for $30.  Here is a link to beautiful pair from a great company called All American Clothing: http://www.allamericanclothing.com/products/AA301.html

One time you should go ahead and buy a gift made in the U.S.A. for someone else is when no specific gift has been requested and you are reasonably sure that an American-made gift will be liked just as much as an imported good.  I don’t think my dad particularly cares what brand of jeans he gets as a gift.  So if I know he wants jeans, I would absolutely buy a pair of American-made jeans for him.  This is another great opportunity to show those around you what great American-made products there are available.  Maybe some of these gifts will turn into brand loyalty and/or increased interest in buying American.  Don’t miss the opportunity to give American-made gifts when the chance presents itself.

Here is one final thought on buying American with regard to friends and family.  Sometimes those close to me buy imported things that they are very excited about, especially if they spent a good deal of money on the item, like a fancy jacket or watch.  When this happens, I make it a point to show exactly the same enthusiasm I would have shown if I didn’t care about buying American.  Remember, buying American only applies to you.  That means not judging others when they get things they want.  Show those around you the respect of sharing in their excitement as you would if buying American was not a priority of yours.  It will be appreciated. 

I hope you will find this gift-giving advice useful.  I would love to hear what you all think about these guidelines for American-made gift-giving.  Have you ever been in one of these gift-giving scenarios?  What did you choose to do?  Were you pleased with your choice afterward?

Until next time, here’s to doing what we can to support our country by buying American.

Randy

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Swiss chocolate is a common cheat item for those who buy American. If you have a few imported items that you just can't do without, don't even worry about it. Continue to buy those items. What's important is that you buy American whenever you can as a general rule.

It’s time for a little more discussion about the guidelines of the Buy American Challenge.  I am going to make a strong case to buy American for a lot of people that have previously thought buying made in U.S.A. isn’t for them.  Let my highlight what is perhaps the most important guidelines of the Buy American Challenge program – you get cheat items!

This actually blows a lot of people’s minds when I tell them that.  When most people think about buying American, they picture buying nothing but goods made in the U.S.A. under any circumstances.  But that is not the program that I recommend because truly buying nothing but American-made items is near impossible without a great deal of deprivation.  Going cold turkey doesn’t work because it is too difficult to stick with it.

That is precisely why cheat items are built into the Buy American Challenge program.  It’s like building a few sweets into your diet so you don’t fall off the wagon and eat two pints of Ben and Jerry’s. Cheat items are actually very important because they make a program that could otherwise be difficult quite palatable, and actually fun.

Recently, a friend of mine who seemed interested in buying American wrote me and asked:  “But what about my French wine and Irish whiskey? More seriously… This could be almost impossible, given how many things are made overseas these days.”

For her, French wine and Irish whiskey are two items she has an existing attachment to that she is not willing to do without.  Even though she might like to buy American in lots of cases, she isn’t willing to go on a no-exceptions program because of these items.  As a result, she might give up on buying American altogether.

That is why the Buy American Challenge program allows for cheat items.  On the Buy American Challenge program, one is allowed as many as five “cheat items” (or more if you really need more).  If you simply can’t live without a specific foreign-made good, you can continue to purchase it.  My friend loves French wine and Irish whiskey, so she can continue to buy these products on her buy American program. 

The key is to get people buying American as a general rule.  That in itself is enough to make a big difference.  If they want to keep buying a few select imported goods, that’s fine.  It is still a big step in the right direction overall.

I also want to touch on another one of the Buy American Challenge guidelines very briefly.  One may buy a specific foreign-made product if the item is simply not made, grown, or raised in the United States.  My friend was concerned that a buy American program would be impossible because of how many products are now made overseas.  It’s true, some things simply aren’t made in the U.S.A. anymore.  That is why the Buy American Challenge program allows you to buy foreign-made goods if an American-made version is unavailable.  You don’t have to go without cell phones or bananas.  They aren’t made or grown in the U.S., so you should buy them as you please and not worry about it. There are plenty of other American-made items you will be able to buy.

The Buy American Challenge is about supporting American businesses and creating American jobs whenever we can.  It’s not about depriving ourselves of modern necessities.

Finally, I want to remind you that these are just guidelines.  They are a place to start for those looking for a buy American program.  But each person ultimately chooses thier own program.

Maybe, after reading this, you are realizing that buying American is easier than you thought.  Believe me, it really isn’t all that hard, especially after you get passed the first couple weeks.

I challenge you to take the Buy American Challenge for one week and see how it goes. 

I promise you three things.  First, you will spend less money than before because you will not be making nearly as many impulse decisions.  Second, the things you do buy will generally be of higher quality because American-made goods tend to be very well-made. Third, you will feel great about knowing you are helping create jobs for Americans every time you make a purchase.

I started buying American, and now I love it.  I will be doing this the rest of my life.

Until next time, here’s to doing what we can to support our country by buying American.

Randy

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The vast majority of the world’s supply of silk is made in Asia.  However, just because neckties are almost always made out of silk, that doesn’t mean we can’t buy made in U.S.A. when shopping for them.  We just have to look a little harder and be tolerant of a little buy American ambiguity.  We can still find very high quality American-made ties that are made from imported silk but sewn by workers right here in the U.S.A.

My favorite American-made ties are produced by Brooks Brothers.  This men’s clothier has been around since 1818 and is America’s oldest clothing chain for men.  Every neck tie manufactured by Brooks Brothers continues to be manufactured in the United States at its tie manufacturing facility in Long Island City, New York. 

Now, Brooks Brothers can be a bit pricey, but I have always been able to find good deals on their products.  For example, pictured above are a couple American-made Brooks Brothers ties I recently purchased in my area.  I got these particular neck ties at Filene’s Basement, a local discount retailer.  I paid less than $20 each for these two, which is less than I typically paid for lesser-quality ties before I got serious about buying American. 

Of course, I would have preferred to buy a tie made in America from American material, buy what can I do?  That is the kind of American-made ambiguity we need to tolerate when trying to buy made in U.S.A.  Sometimes the best you can do is American-made from imported materials, and that’s okay.  The key is to not give up on trying to buy American altogether.

So next time you need a new tie (and yours are looking a little wide), make sure you buy American.

Until next time, here’s to doing what we can to support our country by buying American.

Randy

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