If you maintain a monthly budget, you probably have checked over the financial health of your accounts sometime in the past month. But when is the last time you checked on the environmental health of your accounts?
Many of us do not think about the ways in which our day-to-day financial transactions and decisions may be affecting the environment. But the impact you have may be greater than you realize.
How can you make sure that your financial life is eco-friendly? Here are a few simple eco-friendly tips to make sure you are profiting both the environment and yourself.
Eco-Friendly Tips for Managing Your Finances
Choose a “green” credit card
First of all, what kind of credit card do you use? Whether you have a travel credit card or a low-interest cashback card, one of the easiest ways you can support the environment is to make sure it is also a “green” credit card.
Shop around, and you will find there are many cards which are eco-friendly. These cards donate a percentage of the money you spend every month to environmental non-profit organizations. All you have to do is make your usual purchases. A portion of your spendings will go toward protecting the environment—it does not get easier or more affordable than that. Some conservation groups have literally raised millions of dollars this way for their causes. That is something which you could be a part of.
Invest in alternative energy
Have money to invest? Another thing you can do to support the environment is to invest in green stocks, supporting companies which produce environmentally friendly products or which help to harness sustainable energy.
Most online brokerage firms offer low minimum deposit thresholds and allow you to trade small investment sizes so you can gradually scale up your account. That means even if you only have a few hundred dollars, you can still invest in alternative energy solutions. And if you happen to make a healthy profit doing it, that means you will have more money to donate to environmental causes down the road.
Go paperless with banking and coupons
If you still get paper statements from your bank, a quick glance at your home office or your shredder and trash bin is probably enough to remind you of just how much paper waste banks actually generate for their customers with regular statements and notices. Oftentimes those monthly statements go straight to the trash without even being opened, being as most of us use online banking to check on our accounts anyway.
In just a few quick clicks in your online bank account, you can go paperless, reducing your environmental waste significantly (as a bonus, it will also make it quite a bit easier to reduce clutter around your house).
Another thing you can do to cut back on paper waste is to stop printing out coupons. These days, even brick-and-mortar stores often will allow you to simply bring your coupons on your mobile device to the shop. You will find plenty of discount codes which you can use while shopping online which do not require printing at all.
Look into green options for your home
Planning on buying a new home? Consider shopping around for a green mortgage through the Federal Housing Administration’s Energy Efficient Mortgage program (EEM). You will need to get an energy inspection report to submit when you apply. You will also need to meet some additional requirements. If you are adding energy upgrades to an existing home, you can also use this program.
One great upgrade to consider is solar panels. While there is an initial outlay of costs when you get started, solar panels can pay for themselves very quickly by greatly reducing your utilities costs. They also are an excellent option if you are thinking about moving off the grid.
Make sure you are using a green bank
While you are shopping around for credit cards or taking out a new mortgage, you should also ask some questions about your bank. Does your bank take steps to support the environment, or are their procedures ecologically wasteful? You can start by researching online to see if you can find your bank on a list of green banks. If you do, you can learn more about the actions they take to reduce waste and support conservation. If no, you can write your bank directly and ask.
In fact, in general you should make sure that the companies you support are also supporting the environment. When you pay for a product or service, you are not just obtaining something you need, you are making a statement with your money. Some companies will use your money responsibly when they do business while others will not. You need to make sure you are supporting those which will use their profits for the good of the planet.
Reduce your overall expenses
Finally, one more excellent way to be more environmentally friendly with your finances is to cut back on them. Are your food costs high? Consider eating less meat and more fruits and vegetables. This will save you money, and it will reduce carbon emissions. Utilities costs soaring? Turn off the lights and the air conditioning or heat when you are not at home. Switch to doing your laundry less often if you can manage it, and skip using your dishwasher. Not only will this save you money, but it will also use less energy. Look for areas in your budget where you can both cut expenses and reduce waste.
There is a lot that you can do right now to live a more environmentally conscious life. These eco-friendly tips for managing your finances are easy to implement. While some of these ideas require an investment of time and energy (and possibly money), others are quite simple, even effortless. Once you make these changes in your life, you will enjoy financial profitability. You will also enjoy the intangible rewards that come with knowing you are doing your part as a steward of the earth.