After the year we've had, many find themselves a bit more strapped for cash. And here we go into the holiday shopping season. Talk about timing, eh? I've talked with some friends who've even mentioned they're scaling their present-buying WAY back this year, just to make it all work. I hope you're doing okay, financially and otherwise.

It's so frustrating, too. We want to do all that we can to support local businesses, who definitely are in need of some extra love after 2020. I'll definitely be focusing hard on buying from East Texas-owned businesses this year. But even if you need to curb your spending this year, there's still several ways you can support local and/or small businesses and projects this year--thanks to social media.

Social media often gets judged harshly for keeping us glued to our screens, waiting for the next hit of dopamine when a post gets a "like." Certainly, like any other addiction, we have to be careful not to go overboard.

At the same time, there are real ways you can support local and small businesses using the power of social media. Here's 8 ways you can start helping immediately on social media: 

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Share Their Posts. Yep. Pretty simple, huh? It can be hard to get traction on a social media platform's algorithm when a post is originating from a business page on Facebook. Instagram, Twitter, etc. all have their own algorithms that can be confusing. An organic share from another human can be quite a boost for them.

LIKE Their Posts. Even simpler, huh? Even if you don't feel compelled to share the post, even a simple like can help them become more visible.

Tag A Friend. It's really about engagement. If you come across a post from a business owner that you know a friend may be like, don't be afraid to tag them. It could benefit both your friend AND the business.

Comment On Their Post. So, for example--let's say you like this post you're reading right now. Wanna help me spread the word? I would really, really appreciate a comment either on the blog, or better yet on Facebook if you linked to it from there. (Hint ;)) Your friend's business would definitely appreciate it, too. It helps them become more visible on whatever platform they're using.

Don't like words? Simply Comment Using An Emoji. Hey--this counts as a comment, too. It will literally take you like 2-5 seconds--depending on how long it takes you to find the "heart with stars" or the "happy frog" emoticon.

If you use the service or product, Post A Pic on your own page and let people know how much you enjoy working with them and why.

Give A Simple Shout-Out. It's super easy to tag a business on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. Just type "@" followed by a few letters of the business name or your friend's name and OUILA! It should pop up--although I confess it seems to work some times better than others.

Leave A Positive Review. Sadly, people seem more willing to leave a bad review than a good one. Yeah, it's a couple of extra moments out of our day. But, leaving a good review is a personal testimonial from you. And testimonials are powerful.

Obviously, if we CAN spend money with our East Texas business owners, that would be amazing. Please consider them when you're shopping this year. But, if you can't--this could be the next best thing.

Any others you'd add to this list?

Oh speaking of shopping, here are a few major retail chains we know will be closed on Thanksgiving: