SEVEN WAYS TO DO “GOOD” WITH YOUR MONEY THIS GOOD MONEY WEEK
It’s Good Money Week this week (5-11 October 2019), which is the campaign to help grow and raise awareness of sustainable, responsible and ethical finance. In recent years, there has been an increase in sustainable and ethical options when it comes to our finances, so now more than ever, the potential for making a positive impact on the environment and society through our pay packets is huge.
To mark the week, we’ve rounded up seven easy ways you can do “good” with your money that you might not have considered – from making sure your pension is invested in funds that marry up with your values to mindful shopping and supporting your local community
KNOW YOUR VALUES
Before you address any of the points below, sit down and have a think about your ethics, what you stand for and what you’d be happy for your money to support - and equally things you would not feel comfortable with your money supporting. Is renewable energy your passion point, or shopping Fairtrade, or ensuring that the local community is invested in? Have you recently gone meat and plastic free, and wouldn’t want to support the meat or plastics industry? Referring back to those values will help guide you through the below actions.
Good Money Week 2019 has discovered that when prompted the top places that Brits would actually like to see their pension money support include Green Energy, Sustainability, Water Conservation, Renewables, and Electric Vehicles. Look up The Global Goals if you still need ideas.
MENTION THE PENSION
Approximately 9.3million of us Brits will be investing in workplace pensions by the end of this year, which means millions upon millions of pounds are being invested in the name of the UK’s workforce.
But in new research commissioned by Good Money Week, over half (53.3%) of Brits surveyed stated that they have no idea where their pensions are being invested.
That’s why this year’s Good Money Week campaign is focused on encouraging the UK’s workforce to find out where their pension is invested. This can be done simply by asking your boss or HR Manager to check and take action to ensure it’s invested in funds that match up with you and your colleague’s values. Many pension providers offer a ‘ethical’ or ‘sustainable’ option – but it may not have been used as your default. A good option to consider is Aberdeen Standard, which has the most number of ethical alternative funds. And some pension providers can even let you change your fund yourself online, making it really simple.
Charlene Cranny, Campaigns Director, Good Money Week says:
“One of the most impactful and arguably easiest things you can do to be more “good” with your money is to ‘Mention The Pension’ to your employer. Through our research, we’ve discovered that 15.4% of people would feel awkward asking their employer where their workplace pension is invested. So, we are campaigning to eradicate this awkwardness; discussing where your pension is invested should be as easy as talking about the weather or – dare I say it – Love Island.
Getting over this awkwardness will ensure that our pension money is used for ‘good’ rather than in ways that harm the environmental or society.”
CHANGE CURRENT ACCOUNTS
Shockingly you’re more likely to get divorced than you are to change your current account, but thanks to services such as Current Account Switch it has never been easier - making now the time to move over to an ethical current account. The numbers of ethical banks operating in the UK are growing at an encouraging rate. Co-operative bank was the first bank in the UK to get the ethical label, while challenger bank Monzo is giving the big guns a run for their money. Another good ‘un is the current account from Triodos, which has an extensive ethical investment policy and publishes details of every organisation it lends to.
SHIFT YOUR SAVINGS
Even your most bog-standard savings account will be sending your hard-earned pennies to investment funds that finance companies for a share of the profits.
Have a browse of comparison website Ethical Consumer who rank savings accounts from various societies operating in the UK based on a number of environmental and sustainable ratings.
Like changing current accounts, switching energy providers is no longer the headache it once was. The number of providers supplying renewable energy in the UK has increased in recent years, and more and more providers are now going 100% renewable using biomass gas, or innovative offsetting techniques to go carbon neutral. Consider Bulb, Ecotricity and Good Energy. Switching energy suppliers should only take about 21 days, thanks to the Government-backed Energy Switching Guarantee.
SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL COMMUNITY
We should all be shopping mindfully and avoiding wasteful purchases, but when you do need to shop, try going local. Research has shown that for every £1 spent with a small or medium-sized business around 63p stays in the local economy, compared to around 40p with a larger business. Plus, when you shop at local butchers, bakers, farm shops and green grocers, a good bulk of the produce has had a relatively short field-to-fork journey. As well as with supporting local farmers, this means that the food is likely to be wrapped in less single-use plastic packaging.
It is also worth researching what Community Investment Funds operate in your local area too. Check out Good Finance to see if any schemes operate nearby.
INVESTING: START SMALL
While the word ‘investment’ might sound like a scary one – it really shouldn’t be. Why not take one small (and easy) first step into investing by taking out a £5-50 stake through a platform like Abundance or Ethex, who offer investments that create something good for the environment and society. It’s a small commitment and you can see what happens – you may discover the returns are more encouraging than you thought. Energy4all is also a good place to start if you want to get involved in something at a local level.