Why be ‘good’ with money?

Written by Lisa Stanley Mann on 4th May 2017

We all know we should save more and spend less. If you want to get serious about either, there are TONS of resources out there to help.

Most money websites focus on how to save or make the most money, but don’t tell us much, if anything, about whether the provider of that mortgage, energy tariff or insurance policy is nice or nasty to its customers, society or the planet.

One reason to think about this is that it might just make you better at managing money generally. This is because if you are interested in how your money is making a positive impact, you are more likely to keep tabs on it more frequently, engage with it and talk about it.

Most behavioural economists agree that talking more about our finances with family and friends is one way to get a better handle on it. Socialising your money introduces a degree of competition (“I save £50 a month into Kitty’s Junior ISA”, “I save £100 a month into Theo’s” – you get the gist), which could make you pay more attention to it and ultimately have more of it.

Perhaps if we sign to financial products that better matched our own personal values we would be a little more vocal in shouting it from the rooftops – and maybe save a bit more, too.

Another reason is that if you don’t think about what your money is funding, it will probably be funding bad stuff  you wouldn’t support yourself right now… whether that is forced labour, factory farming, coal burning, fracking or arms manufacturing.

According to research from Triodos Bank, 75 per cent of us have no idea where the money we put in the bank actually ends up, but more than 60 per cent would like to know.

In most cases, the biggest providers of financial services in the UK are not motivated to care whether the money you pay them in mortgage repayments or premiums goes into morally good or bad investments, because most of us are not telling them that we care about anything other than price.

There has always been a view, convenient to the big banks, fund managers, insurers and energy companies, that making ethical or sustainable decisions with your money will cost you, either because ethical investments don’t perform as well; sustainable energy is more expensive, or responsible businesses don’t make as much profit because their motivations lie elsewhere.

This view is rubbish. There is often very little premium for green energy, ethical insurance or sustainable investments. Sometimes none. Sometimes they are better value or more profitable.

Contrary to what The Wolf of Wall Street might teach us about money and morality, you don’t have to be bad to make money. Capitalism isn’t inherently evil. There are ways to avoid detriment to developing countries, poor people and the planet and still be rich. Ethical businesses include John Lewis, Ikea and Apple: hardly minnows in the profitability stakes.

This website can help you be good with your money, without unknowingly harming the rest of the world.

Just remember, making financial decisions that are also ethically sound doesn’t mean you have to lose out personally.

You can also check out the directory and read some of the guides. If you like what you’re reading sign up to our newsletter for a weekly dose of good money vibes.

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