4 Ways Your Money Can Support Your Values

By Emily Guy Birken on 25 April 2017 0 comments

Giving to charity is an important line item in my family budget — but it's only one line. There are far more charitable organizations that I want to support than I can possibly give money to.

But what if there were a way to support your values without having to free up more money to give to charity? In fact, there is a way. You can do the same things you always do with your money — bank it, invest it, spend it on utilities, and shop — all while providing important financial benefits to the causes you care about.

Socially responsible robo-investing

I'll never forget the stricken look on my financial adviser's face when I told him I was uncomfortable with big oil, tobacco, or firearms as investments in my retirement portfolio. He took a deep breath and told me that I would probably have to be a little flexible about that if I wanted to maintain my passive investment strategy. The only other option would be to individually choose the investments I wanted so that my money was aligned with my values. Not only would that be expensive and time consuming (someone would have to do the stock picking), but it would not necessarily grow my money.

Passive investors like me now have the option of investing in funds that only go to companies we approve of. The new robo adviser OpenInvest offers investors the ability to personalize the specific issues they care most about. You simply create an "issue profile" that narrows down the types of companies you would either like to invest in or steer clear of. The robo adviser's algorithm then creates a basket of about 60 stocks that match your values and should match the returns of the broader market.

Your money grows just like it would with any investment, but you are supporting companies that reflect your values. (See also: 5 Stocks to Buy If You Love the Earth)

Cellphone activism

It's hard to imagine life without your cellphone — which makes it an excellent tool to help support your values. Simply changing your cellphone provider can make paying your bill part of your activism.

Whether your politics align left or right, you can switch to an activist cellphone carrier that will use a portion of their profits to fund important causes. Credo Mobile is a mobile and long distance provider that has donated $83 million to various progressive nonprofit groups since its inception in 1985. On the right, Patriot Mobile offers conservatives the opportunity to choose the organization that a portion of their monthly phone bill will be donated to.

In both cases, the mobile carrier allows you to keep your phone and phone number when you make the switch. You are already paying for your cellphone usage; why not have the money fund causes you care about?

Shop your values

Amazon has become the most convenient way to handle shopping in the modern age, but did you know it can also be the most convenient way for you to donate to charities you love?

AmazonSmile is exactly like the Amazon store you already know, with the exact same prices and fees, and the exact same login you already use. But when you sign on with AmazonSmile, you are allowed to choose any one of over a million 501(c)(3) charitable organizations to benefit from your shopping. Each time you make a purchase, AmazonSmile gives 0.5 percent of the purchase price to your charity.

While not all purchases are eligible for AmazonSmile, the vast majority are. In addition, there are occasionally limited-time special promotions that increase the donation percentage.

Once you have signed up with AmazonSmile, just make sure you start any Amazon shopping from that page to keep your donations going to your favorite charity whenever you shop.

#BankBlack revitalizes communities

You might remember seeing the rapper Killer Mike on MTV in 2016 asking 1 million people to open a savings account with a black-owned banking institution. That helped start the #BankBlack movement, which is credited with bringing $50 million in new deposits to black-owned banks over a six-month span in 2016, according to the Huffington Post.

But banking with a black-owned financial institution is more than just a hashtag. These institutions were once the only places where African Americans could expect fair treatment when discrimination was rampant in the banking industry. Nowadays, black-owned banks offer access to necessary banking services in distressed neighborhoods, while also providing economic revitalization.

Since black-owned banks specifically market to the African American communities that are disproportionately unbanked or underbanked — meaning they rely on check cashing services and pawnshops for their banking needs — opening an account with a black-owned bank is an excellent way to put your money to work for social justice.

The Blackout Coalition offers a map of black-owned banks and credit unions across the United States, so you can find one near you. Alternatively, if you are not in an area with a local black-owned bank, OneUnited is an online bank that is also the nation's largest black-owned bank.

Put your money where your values are

Not everyone has money in the budget to support the social programs they are most passionate about. But making a few tweaks to how you bank, invest, call, and shop will allow you to make the world a better place without spending any more money. You'll feel good about how your money represents your values, and your favorite causes will benefit from your choices. It's a win-win.

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