9 ethical money tips for beginners

Written by Lori Campbell on 2nd Oct 2023

You might think you are living sustainably by recycling, eating less meat and cutting down on flying – but what about your money?

Our financial decisions all have an impact on the planet and society, for good or for bad.

Making conscious choices to use our money for good has the exciting potential to help solve the world’s biggest problems like climate change, biodiversity loss and poverty. But this means we have to DO something.

To celebrate Good Money Week, which encourages people to make greener choices with their savings, investments and pensions, here are nine tips for making your money more ethical.


1. Get a greener pension

We’ll start with your most powerful financial asset – your pensions. Aside from possibly your house, it is likely to be the biggest pot of money you will ever have to your name. Therefore, it also has the biggest potential for bringing about positive change!

If you haven’t given the money in your pension much thought until now, it is highly likely that your hard-earned savings are driving deforestation and funding fossil fuels. But don’t despair – you can help to ensure the £3 trillion in UK pensions flows to businesses that are trying to tackle climate change, so your money helps build a world you actually want to retire into.

According to campaign group Make My Money Matter, encouraging your pension provider to clean up their investments can cut your carbon footprint by 21x more than giving up flying, going veggie and switching energy provider combined.

4 ways to make your pension ethical

2. Switch your savings

The money you deposit into a savings account doesn’t just sit there until you withdraw it. It can be loaned or invested by your provider, often to finance new projects that negatively impact society and the environment. In contrast, an ethical provider will use your money for good.

Providers like Good Egg mark firms Ecology Building Society and Triodos Bank as well as Charity Bank use their customers’ deposits to fund ONLY organisations delivering positive environmental or social impacts. Roger Hattam from Triodos Bank, a Good With Money ‘Good Egg’ firm, said: “Even a small amount in savings or investments with a sustainable provider reroutes money from harmful sectors into positive ones. It also sends a powerful message to the wider finance industry that enough is enough.”

Ethical banks are also more likely to be passing on rises in the Bank of England interest rate to their customers – so your pocket will benefit, as well as the planet. See our top-paying sustainable savings accounts here.


3. Move to a better bank

Moving the account you use for everyday spending is one of the easiest – and quickest – ways to make sure your money is planet-friendly. With some providers, like Triodos Bank, it can even make a positive impact.

The overwhelming majority of people in the UK bank with one of the Big Five – banks that, sadly, have a very poor record when it comes to the environment. If you want to be sure your cash isn’t going towards financing industries or projects harming our world (such as fossil fuels, arms and tobacco), look for providers that are committed to not investing in them or who are explicitly backing green projects.

As well as ‘Good Egg’ Triodos Bank (which only invests in companies and projects making a positive impact), we like The Co-operative, Nationwide, Cumberland Building Society and digital banks Starling and Monzo.

Top 6 ethical current accounts

4. Invest sustainably – even if it’s just a little

You might feel like investing is something only men in suits in the City do – it’s NOT! You don’t need to be an expert in the stock markets to invest, and you don’t need to be mega wealthy.

Platforms like The Big Exchange, a Good Egg firm, and Interactive Investor, as well as wealth managers like EQ Investors, also a Good Egg, all offer sustainable portfolios you can invest in easily online.. with no previous experience required.

The first two have a minimum monthly investment of just £25 (for Simply EQ it’s £100). Another useful resource is our free Good Investment Review, which looks at a growing universe of impact funds.

Top sustainable investment platforms

5. Invest directly in positive change

If you’re keen to invest directly in businesses making a positive impact in the UK, you could consider an Innovative Finance ISA (IFISA). Investment platforms such as Good Egg company Thrive Renewables, as well as crowdfunding platforms Ethex and Triodos Crowdfunding offer options to invest in environmentally and/or socially impactful companies in the UK.

If you want your money to create change further afield, Energise Africa invests in life-changing solar energy projects across Africa.

Just bear in mind that, unlike mainstream ISAs, IFISAs are not covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS).


6. Speak to an ethical financial adviser

If you can afford a financial adviser, choose one that specialise in ethical investment. A growing number of independent financial adviser (IFA) firms and wealth managers offer advice in this area and can help you put your money to work for the planet. Path Financial, Bluesphere, Pennine Wealth Solutions and EQ Investors all hold the Good Egg accreditation, and Ethical Futures is listed in our Good Directory. For higher net worth investors, Castlefield offers a range of advisory services.

Top 10 ethical financial advisers


7. Green your home (and save money) for winter

Our Good Guide to Going Green at Home shows you easy ways to green your home that will not only save the planet, but your pounds too.

The C-Change mortgage from guide sponsor and Good Egg company Ecology Building Society offers borrowers savings of up to 1.50 per cent on the standard variable rate. The discounts reward borrowers for creating an energy-efficient home, bringing reduced energy bills and a lower mortgage rate at the same time.

Naturesave offers green home and travel insurance by allocating 10 per cent of customers’ premiums to environmental projects. Tandem Bank, through its Allium home lending arm, offers green home improvement loans. Charity Bank is offering £1000 or £2000 cashback when you buy or build an energy-efficient building with its Sustainable Buildings Loan.


8. Compare green energy suppliers

When it comes to energy, it might still be nigh on impossible to find a good deal for your pocket – but you can still find a good deal for the planet.

If you’re keen to lower your carbon footprint and help create a cleaner and more sustainable energy system in the UK, there are some trusted suppliers worth considering. Check out our top five green energy suppliers.


9. Ask your employer to offer ‘climate perks’

Climate Perks works with climate-conscious employers to offer paid ‘journey days’ to staff who opt to travel on holiday by train, coach or boat instead of flying. Staff are empowered to act on their values and employers receive Climate Perks accreditation in recognition of their climate leadership.


And then.. tell people!

There’s a good money revolution happening and the more people that join it, the quicker change will happen. Take actions to green your money, but don’t stop there. Tell your friends and family so they can green their money too.

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