How To Think Green With Your Finances
Climate change can feel insurmountable at times. But that doesn’t mean it’s too big of an issue for your actions to matter.
“It’s worth the effort because you can make a real difference,” says Matt Schulz, LendingTree chief credit analyst. “You don’t have to donate millions of dollars and hundreds of hours to have an impact.”
April 22 is Earth Day in the U.S., so it’s the perfect time to make changes in your life to be more environmentally friendly. Here are four green strategies to try to improve your financial impact on the world.
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No. 1: Choose paperless billing
“The simplest way to be greener with your finances is to go paperless with your billing as much as possible,” Schulz says. “But it’s not just good for the environment. It may save you money, with plenty of businesses offering discounts for going paperless. If you’re not sure if a company does, ask.”
A useful place to start is to review your budget to find the bills you receive, ranging from utility and credit card companies to insurance and cable providers. This will save on the paper and transportation required to generate paper bills and automatically give you a digital copy for your records.
No. 2: Vote with your dollar
Climate change is a big issue, and it can feel difficult to make a meaningful contribution to stopping it as an individual. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. One of the most impactful things you can do is use your money to support companies that aren’t just virtue signaling a climate-friendly attitude but taking steps to be more environmentally friendly. After all, everyday purchases add up quickly.
This doesn’t have to be a massive project covering every purchase simultaneously. Instead, start with your most frequent purchases and slowly transition to new businesses where needed and available.
No. 3: Look into energy-efficient appliances
Energy-related costs aren’t just impactful for the planet — they can cost you a lot of money. According to Energy Star, their energy-efficient appliances (and that of their partners) have saved Americans more than $500 billion since 1992.
“While these items can be pricey, they can save you money in the long run,” Schulz says. “You may even get federal or state tax breaks for buying them.”
This’ll likely be something you should keep in mind for the future, like when it’s time to make home improvements such as buying a new stove or upgrading windows.
No. 4: Consider ESG investing
Environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) investing is a philosophy of investing that emphasizes making sure the companies you’re putting money toward meet certain standards in those areas. That can mean avoiding companies that profit from environmental exploitation or unsavory practices. In other words, it can be a great way to make sure your investments align with your values, Schulz says.
As with any investing strategy, you should note the potential downsides before getting involved.
Remember: It’s OK to start small when going for a greener approach to your finances. In fact, taking the time to research different options can help you avoid missteps (like accidentally supporting a company that engages in greenwashing instead of environmentally friendly practices) and make a larger impact over time. As Schulz notes, it’ll be worth your time.