There are times when adhering to your ideals is cost-efficient. For example, many of the things you do to live in a more eco-friendly manner are also things that happen to save you money. You can live more sustainably and come out ahead at the end of the month.
Not everything is like that, however. There are times when your ideals can cost you money. Sometimes, you pay for something because you believe in it — not because it’s cost efficient.
Giving to Causes
One of the biggest examples is giving to charity. If you believe in a cause enough to give money to it, you aren’t likely to derive any benefit out of it. You can get your money back if you buy energy-efficient light bulbs or invest in a smart thermometer.
Giving to a cause you believe in that doesn’t provide that kind of monetary return. The money is gone, and you can only hope that the people that run the charity will use the money well. (This is one of the reasons that I’m such a big fan of local charity, as well as sometimes donating to larger organizations with good ratings on sites like Charity Navigator.)
Socially Responsible Investing
Another way that you might end up losing a little more — or at least seeing smaller returns than you would have otherwise — is through socially responsible investing. Many people like the idea of only investing in companies and funds that reflect their ideals. However, in some cases, these investments don’t pan out. You might end up losing money because you invested in a clean energy company that isn’t off the ground yet, instead of in an oil company.
In some cases, you might see gains, but they might not be as big as otherwise. Some mutual funds that focus on socially-responsible companies charge higher expense ratios and other fees. You might end up with a lower ROI just through fees. If it’s important to you to invest where your ideals are, this isn’t the end of the world — as long as you can afford it.
Buying More Expensive Items
Unlike more expensive thermostats that eventually pay for themselves, there are some things that are just more expensive. What happens when you buy more expensive foods because it’s “whole” or for some other reason? What about buying products that are eco-friendly or produced in an eco-friendly manner, but that cost less? There are lots of examples of these kinds of purchases, and you might not get a corresponding increase in true quality.
The argument can be made that when you buy organic food, you are going to be healthier, and that is a benefit that can save you money down the road, but the reality is that there aren’t conclusive studies that say buying organic makes a significant difference in your health. You might also run into similar issues when you buy products that are made according to ideals. They might just be more expensive, without providing you with any other benefit beyond the warm fuzzies.
If you can afford these things, and you would rather see your money go toward things that are in line with your values, it’s not really a problem. However, if you are getting in debt as a result of the choices, it might time to re-think your decisions.
Many of us want to leave the world a better place. One of the best ways to do that is to teach your children your values, and encourage them to do the right thing — especially when it comes to adopting sustainable practices.
So, how do you encourage your kids to adopt sustainable practices that can make the world a better place for future generations? Here are 4 tips that can help you along:
1. Set a Good Example
As always, the best thing you can do if you want to increase the chances that your child will do something, is to set the example. Children like to see what we’re doing, and they want to mimic us. If you show that you are behaving in a more eco-friendly manner, your kids will want to do something similar. Model good behavior, and your children will be likely to follow suit.
Show your children that sustainability is important to you, and they will be more likely to adopt those practices going forward.
2. Make it a Game
To help younger children get into good habits related to sustainability, you can make it a game. Encourage your children to pick up litter in your neighborhood and reward them for picking up more of it. Make it a game to save water and energy. You can also help them make a game of making sure they put their trash in the right bin (recycling, green waste). Making it a game can be a fun way to encourage younger children to get involved — and have fun. As they get older, they will already have certain practices ingrained as habits.
3. Explain Your Reasons
For older kids, it might make sense to explain your reasons for what you do. Many pre-teens and teenagers like to feel as though they are being treated as adults. By explaining the importance of sustainable living to your children, you can help them feel like adults, and let them see how important it is to take care of the earth.
Children also like to know the “why” behind actions. They want to understand why they should be doing something, and explaining the importance of the earth, and your efforts to be more sustainable so that it is cleaner and healthier can go a long way toward convincing your kids to maintain the habits you taught them when they were younger.
4. Make it a Family Effort
Be sure that you make it a family effort. While setting a good example is important, you don’t want to exclude your children from your sustainability effort. Make it something you all do together. While it’s often easier to just take care of things like compost or recycling on your own, you can build up resentment in your kids if they aren’t included. Let your kids participate so that they see that it’s something you can all do together, and it’s something they can do, even though they aren’t adults yet.
What strategies do you use to encourage your kids to adopt sustainable practices?
Thanks to technology, it’s possible to stay on top of your banking anytime you want. Not only is this helpful for you, but it can also be helpful for the environment.
Mobile Banking and Your Finances
I love mobile banking because it provides me with a way to keep track of your finances all the time. Whenever you want an idea of where you stand, you can check your account for information. It’s possible to use mobile banking to transfer funds, and accomplish a number of other tasks.
Mobile banking provides you with a great deal of convenience and access. I especially like that many banks now allow for remote check deposit. All you have to do is take the appropriate images of your checks and send them along. It makes the whole process easier, since you don’t have to go into the bank in person. Just as long as you shred the check at home, you can manage all aspects of your finances remotely.
You can also catch problems sooner with mobile banking. From errors to fraudulent purchases, the ability to check your account can help you identify problems much sooner. Mobile banking provides you with greater convenience, as well as a greater amount of control over your bank account. You can be more informed, and you can take care of problems faster.
What About the Environment?
Mobile banking can also help the environment. I got to the brick and mortar version of my bank now that I have mobile banking and the ability to deposit checks remotely. As a result, I am using much less gas, and there are fewer pollutants in the air.
If you combine mobile banking with the ability to go paperless, then you can do even more to help the environment. If you opt to receive your statements electronically, it means fewer trees cut down, and fewer greenhouse gases in the environment.
Switching to mobile banking can also have effects if you encourage others not to use paper checks as part of the effort. There are a number of services, from PayPal to Popmoney to Google Wallet that allow you to send and receive money from others without the need for writing a check. You can reduce the paper in your life, and help the environment, when you cut back on the paper checks.
On a larger scale, mobile banking has the potential to make an even bigger impact. If more people adopt mobile banking, physical bank branches could be smaller, reducing their footprints. PayItGreen estimates that if 20 per cent of Americans switched to electronic bills, statements, and payments every year, the savings would be huge: 150 million pounds of paper and two million tons of greenhouse gases.
That’s a big deal, and illustrates the power of collective action. If you can go with mobile banking and paperless finances, and convince others to do so as well, there is a very real chance that, not only will you be doing your part, but you will be part of a larger effort as well.
Twenty-first century living can be very harmful for the environment. You only have to consider recent disasters such as the BP oil spill to see this. Then there is our everyday living that is often hard on the environment. Many countries, ours included, have food shipped in from every corner of the world to our local markets. Many people drive large, gas guzzling vehicles as a status symbol. Others don’t believe in global warming and are not worried about the effects of their actions.
However, all is not doom and gloom. There are many other ways that our twenty-first lifestyle can also help protect the environment. As more people become aware of sustainable living, the prices of products which benefit the environment, such as hybrid cars, are falling. The drop in prices means that more and more people can buy more eco-friendly products.
In addition, there are changes to the way we live that make supporting an eco-friendly lifestyle more attainable. One of these conveniences is online banking.
Online banking has come a long way in a very short time. Most online banks offer basic products, such as savings and checking accounts, but there are also more complex products such as wealth management available. Some even offer structured products. Depending on your needs, make sure to do your research before signing up for an online bank because there are many banks to choose from.
Online banking is a boon for both the environment and your personal finances.
Eco-Friendly Advantages to Online Banking
Many online banks are entirely online, meaning there is no brick and mortar locations. This means there are no branches requiring energy, maintenance, and manpower to run.
In addition, customers can do their banking from the comfort of their home. There is no driving required, so fuel consumption, at least on this errand, is zero.
Finally, most online banks send statements and other materials via e-mail rather than in paper statement form. Resources are being saved through online banking.
Financial Advantages to Online Banking
Because online banks often don’t have brick and mortar locations, they usually have less overhead, so they can offer a better interest rate to customers. This can benefit you when you have money in a savings or checking account because most traditional banks are paying abysmally low interest rates. At least with online banks you get a little bit more for your money.
In addition, if you’re looking at investing or investment management, you’ll usually pay much less in fees when using an online bank. Of course, the less you pay in fees, the more money you can retain, whether for growing your wealth or your retirement nest egg.
Besides paying less in investment fees, you’ll likely pay less in fees for all other aspects of your banking needs, too.
Online banking is just one 21st century convenience that makes it easy to be eco-friendly AND make smart money decisions. That’s why it’s our preferred method of banking.
What about you? Have you switched to online banking yet?
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