1 When eating at a neighborhood restaurant, ask the waiter if the menu contains any dishes made with local products. If so, order from those choices, which will reinforce the restaurant’s efforts to find food locally as well as support the farmers and producers who supply the food.

2 Before making an online purchase, ask yourself, “Can I find this product or something similar at a store right here in my neighborhood?” If so, it’s worth making the extra effort to get out and shop. Spending dollars around our homes not only helps local businesses remain open and profitable, it also has the potential to benefit neighborhood libraries, parks and other city services by building up the sales tax base.

3 Put the 3/50 Project into practice. (Read our cover story for more details.)

4 When shopping at a neighborhood mom-and-pop, ask if the store carries any locally made merchandise. Buying these items may just keep an entrepreneur in business, and they also make great gifts — everyone loves a present with a good story behind it.

5 Get to know the employees at your neighborhood dry cleaner, lunch spot, boutique and other local businesses. When you make a personal connection with people, it’s a much better incentive to give them your business because it’s no longer just a financial transaction — it’s an investment in someone’s life.