Many of us strive to live at least a little bit of a greener life — and with our finances. The good news is that this doesn’t have to be difficult. Like most things in life, if you take it one step at a time, it makes it easier. Here are some steps you can take to make your finances a little greener:
Your first step to a greener life is to de-clutter what you already have. Shred and recycle documents, statements and receipts that you no longer need. Go through your filing system and figure out which documents you no longer need in hard copy. Some documents should be kept in hard copy — and put somewhere protected from disasters (like a fire safe). Everything else can probably be scanned into the computer and filed electronically. Then, into the shredder to be recycled (or used as garden mulch).
2. Stop Paper Statements
These days, most insurance companies, banks, brokerages and other financial services companies offer electronic delivery of statements and other documents. Make a list of documents you are still receiving by snail mail. Then, go down the list and find out what you need to do to get paperless delivery. Switch over to paperless delivery as soon as you can so that you are no longer receiving the paper statements that are so damaging to the forests. Go paperless, and you’ll be closer to greening your finances.
3. Online Banking and Budgeting
If you are going to go paperless, you should also familiarize yourself with online account management. In most cases, you can manage your deposits, withdrawals and transfers online. You can also see where your money is being used, and what transactions have gone through. It is also possible to use computer programs and applications to help you track your spending, and it is usually easy to display your data in a way that allows you to easily see your habits. Use online banking and budgeting tools, and you won’t need to break out the paper.
4. Consider What You Buy and Invest In
Now that you have your financial reporting greened up, you can turn your thoughts to your money habits. Changing your money habits can be more difficult than simply switching to paperless finances. However, what you spend your money on, and how you invest is part of your green financial plan and efforts. Think about what you are buying. Is it sustainable? Is it local? Consider ways that you can improve the eco-friendly nature of your purchases.
You can also examine your investment portfolio, and look for green investing opportunities. You can support companies with sustainable practices, and help expand the market for alternative energy. Consider how your dollars can be spent helping to make the world a greener place, and then go for it. You can even start a green business, and invest in yourself, making money while living a greener life.
5. Save Energy — And Money
Finally, you can link your ability to save money with your ability to help save the planet. Look for ways to save energy around the house. From making your home more energy efficient to remembering to turn off lights and energy vampires, you can save money and use less energy. You can also save money and encourage more sustainable living when you reconsider your water use, and work on ways to make your yard and garden more sustainable. All of this will save you money and help you live greener.