People who want to live sustainably often start with things like recycling, thrifting, or maybe giving up meat.
But what about that thing we all us every day: MONEY? How do we make our banking, spending, saving, and investing more sustainable?
That’s why we’ve got this eco-friendly money guide for you! This lays out the biggest ways you can save money with sustainable living, and eco-friendly options for your banking, saving, and investing needs. We can be kind to the earth and build wealth at the same time.
How Can I Save Money By Being Eco-Friendly?
Living an eco-friendly life is almost synonymous with living a money saving life. The sustainable choice is almost always the cheaper choice!
That’s because sustainability is about using what you have and living a little slower than everyone else. By focusing on using up items you already have; say, by completely using the three bottles of sunscreen you already own instead of buying a new fourth bottle because someone on social media said they loved it.
Eco-friendly lifestyle choices like biking to work three days a week to reduce your emissions will naturally save you money. That’s three days a week (or 12 days a month) less gas you have to pay for!
I don’t know about where you live, but gas by me is about $3.25 a gallon. You could easily save $65 a month or $780 a year by biking to work three days a week. Plus, that’s significantly less emissions you’re putting into the air.
So how do we make eco-friendly money choices for things like banking, investing, and debt payoff?
What Are the Best Green Banks?
Finding an eco-friendly bank feels daunting but it’s actually very, very easy.
If you’re banking with Chase, Bank of America, Citi, or Wells Fargo you are banking with the worst of the worst. These are the biggest investors into and funders of fossil fuels in the world. These companies are directly responsible for things like drilling in the arctic, ocean oil spills and animal death, and the changing climate.
So a super easy thing to do is simply take your money, investments, and savings out of there! Hit ’em where it hurts by leaving them.
But where to go? We have three socially responsible bank recommendations right here.
If none of our recommendations work for you, please use a local credit union!
Credit unions are much smaller than these national banks but offer ALL the same services. Credit unions are also much more active in local communities; they provide local jobs, donate to local non profits, often offer free educational events, and help keep your money out of terrible investments.
What Kind of Investments Are Ethical Investments?
Next on our eco-friendly money to do list is where to invest your money.
Investing is crucial to your financial future. I’m a big investor and I am actually Coast FI! And I have reached this without investing in fossil fuels.
We have several blog posts that explain sustainable investing in depth:
But the most important thing to know about sustainable investing is that it IS possible, it IS profitable, and it’s way easier than you think.
You can invest sustainably through brokerages like Vanguard and Fidelity by choosing sustainable funds and avoiding terrible companies like Exxon and Shell. We teach you how to do that in our course “How to Make Money and Be a Good Person.”
You can also opt to use sustainable brokerages like Carbon Collective, which has no investment minimum and is a carbon neutral brokerage. They also do activist investing, where they invest in the problem companies to use shareholder activism to force change.
If you need a total investment guide and someone to hold you hand through opening accounts, curating an investment strategy and picking sustainable funds, that’s exactly what we do in our course! We even offer once a month live calls so you can ask Kara your investing questions. We help you become a sustainable investor and we’re there for you every step of the way.
Three Steps to Start Curating Eco-Friendly Money
Here are the first three steps you should take to start making your money greener!
1- Leave your problematic bank. Pick one of the banks from this article, or move to a local credit union. This is THE easiest and THE most impactful money move you can make to go green. Banks do more than just hold your money. They make investments, fund businesses, and use your money to shape policy. By moving out of a bank that funds fossil fuels, you’re making a huge eco-friendly choice.
2- Shop local. Keep your money in your local community as much as possible. If we buy products from outside our community, at stores owned by people outside of our community, it means most of our money will leave our community! For example, buying strawberries grown in Colombia when you live in Illinois means that the money you spend will go to pay for the flights and trucks used to transport those berries. Whereas if you can get berries in season from the farm one twon over, your money is going to help that farmer pay their mortgage.
3- Divest from fossil fuels. You dimply do not have to invest in companies like Exxon, Shell, BP, or any other fossil fuel company to make money. You just don’t! These companies are largely responsible for climate change, and taking your money out of them sends a clear signal: we want change. We teach you how to divest from these kinds of companies and how to invest in sustainable funds in our course, “How to be a Good Person and Make Money.”
How do you make eco-friendly money choices? Anything you do that we didn’t cover here?