Top 10 ways to do “good” with your money this Good Money Week
It’s Good Money Week this week (24th – 30th October 2020), which is the campaign to help grow and raise awareness of green and ethical finance.
To mark the week, which this year is focused on helping people make ethical and green choices as they revamp their finances following the economic fall out of the pandemic, we’ve rounded up some easy ways you can do “good” with your money that you may not have considered – from making sure your pension is invested ethically, getting paid to switch to a green energy provider, to taking part in Black Pound Day.
Charlene Cranny, Campaigns and Communications Director, Good Money Week, said: “Research conducted for Good Money Week this year shows that following the pandemic, many of us are likely to revamp their finances, our atitudes to our money has shifted, and the environment is still high up on the agenda. It’s easy to get bogged down with where to start when planning to give your finances a green overhaul, but there’s no need to be overwhelmed; there are so many easy ways to make greener, cleaner and kinder decisions with our money. People who are making steps to reduce their personal impact on the environment might already be reusing coffee cups, bags and bottles, cycling rather than driving, but might not have even thought about where their money is being invested, spent and banked, which can have a huge impact on the environment. These tips are a great place to start; why not commit to ticking one off your list a month? No matter your income you can save and invest to grow your wealth while helping the UK become greener, cleaner and kinder.”
1. SWITCH CURRENT ACCOUNTS
When you deposit money into a bank account, it doesn’t simply sit in an underground high-security vault. Banks use the deposits in the accounts held with them to fund their other banking activities, from loans to investments. This means your money could be funding all sorts of projects that you don’t agree with.
Thanks to services such as Current Account Switch it has never been easier to move over to an ethical current account if you do find that you’re not happy with your bank’s activities. The numbers of ethical banks operating in the UK is growing; consider the likes of Co-Op bank, Monzo, or Triodos, the latter of which has an extensive ethical investment policy and is the only commercial bank in the UK to offer total transparency to savers and investors, publishing details of every organisation it lends to.
2. CHANGE YOUR ENERGY PROVIDER
Much 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. And did you know you can easily compare green energy suppliers? With the Big Clean Switch you can quickly search for planet-friendly gas and electricity suppliers and they’ll make the switch on your behalf https://bigcleanswitch.org. Easy!
3. SHOP LOCAL
We should all be shopping mindfully and avoiding wasteful purchasing, but when you do need to shop, try going local in the first instance. Research has shown that 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 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.
4. MAKE SURE YOUR PENSION IS INVESTED ETHICALLY
Did you know that your pension can have a huge impact on people and the planet? Trillions of pounds in pension funds are invested each year, some of which in companies that are guilty of reckless behaviour when it comes to the environment, human rights and inequality. Nest, the largest pension scheme in the UK by membership with 9 million savers announced a new Climate Change policy to go ‘net zero’ and stop investing its savers’ money in companies that produce a lot of emissions. So, ask your boss or your financial advisor to switch your pension to a provider like Nest, or you can push your current provider to go green at Make My Money Matter https://makemymoneymtter.co.uk/. According to one report placing your pension money in green investments could have 117 times the impact of someone limiting themselves to one return flight a year.
5. MOVE YOUR SAVINGS
Even your most bog-standard savings account will be sending your hard-earned pennies to investment funds. Although it may feel like sometimes the returns are very low, your savings are always being put somewhere, working for a company or business somewhere else.
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.
6. INVESTING: START SMALL
Don’t skip pass this one because you’ve seen the word ‘investment’! 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 stake in renewable energy through Abundance, a platform which offers investments that create something good for the environment and society, with a good financial return too. You can also invest in councils across the UK who are delivering real green and social projects like solar farms for low risk financial returns. 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.
7. DON’T BUY, BORROW
The Library of Things asks, ‘Why buy when you can borrow?’. It’s asking consumers to think twice before they buy things and try to borrow them instead. Lots of common household items are available and you can reserve and collect your items or have them delivered. Already available in several London boroughs, you can find out more about the Library of Things here https://www.libraryofthings.co.uk/
8. BUY FROM BLACK OWNED BUSINESS FOR AN INCLUSIVE FUTURE
Black Pound Day is the national campaign that was set up this year to support and raise awareness for Black-owned businesses. More than simply one day per year, Black Pound Day is a monthly campaign that encourages consumers to switch up their usual shopping destinations to local and online Black-owned businesses every first Saturday of the month. According to the Black Pound Day website, if everyone was to spend just £10 a week on Black businesses, we could inject £1.9bn into the Black community.
9. LENDING MONEY
If you are fortunate to be able to, have you ever considered lending a little money to someone in the developing world who is trying to lift themselves out of poverty by running their own business? Take a look at lendwithcare.org, which allows people to lend relatively small sums to people in countries such as Cambodia and Togo. You won't earn any interest, but the money you lend is paid back to you in instalments. The minimum you can lend is £15 and the site says the average repayment schedule is around 12 months.
10. DONATE TO FOODBANKS
The Trussell Trust’s new analysis forecasts a 61% increase in food parcels needed across its UK network in October to December, with six parcels given out every minute. During the start of the pandemic around half of people who used a food bank had never needed one before. If you are able, buying supplies for your local food bank can be a real help to people in need in your local area, or you can donate monthly through their website.