Your Finances and a Greener Life

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:

1. De-Clutter

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.

What are your tips for a greener life and your finances?

11 comments to Your Finances and a Greener Life

  • Great tips. If I had to make a list for this mine would look very similar to yours. We have done all of these things since being green is really important to us. I would add changing your cleaning and personal care products to greener options. Not only are you helping the planet but you are also helping yourself. Non -green options for these items can be really damaging to your health.

  • I definitely need to eliminate the spam mail (physical, not email). There are so many credit card offers or promotions that I get and have to recycle. It would not only be better for the environment, but save me the hassle of having to deal with extra mail.

  • I have been using online banking and bill pay for years, as well as statements online. While I cant say that I’ve been error free, i’ve been better than I normally would have.

  • You make a great point, Miss T! It’s so true that you can save money in health care costs when you make an effort to go green and avoid some of the problems that come with the harsh chemicals in cleaning supplies.

    @20’s Finances: You can opt out of a number of junk mailers by visiting donotmail.org for the US and the Red Dot Campaign for Canada. However, I don’t think either of these is complete. But you can opt out of a number of junk mail campaigns this way.

    @Jeff: Great point about being able to cut down on some of the errors when you use online banking/bill pay.

  • I just read an interesting article talking about how North Americans should invest in living green out of economical and patriotic motivation as well as caring about Earth. Their rationale was that the less reliance on foreign oil the better. They were also worried China had opened up a large lead in producing “green” technology going forward.

  • If I could I would like to do a lot more decluttering but my Wife might have a problem with that. ;) I recycle everything that I can and most weeks the recycle container has more than the garbage can. That’s a good thing isn’t it?

  • I am entirely paperless with all my bills, statements. And like the fact that many companies charge for paper statements. If you’re already doing banking, investing, bill pay online anyways there’s no excuse to go paperless. It should required.

  • The best thing I did to eliminate paper was that I got rid of all debt. Fewer bills being sent to my house is good for me!

    I also opted out of junk mail, cancelled most of my subscriptions, and call to cancel catalogs that arrive in my mailbox. It’s greener, and just in general less clutter, both of which are good for me.

  • [...] Sustainable Personal Finance has a great site dedicated to money and the environment.  Here you can figure out how going green is saving green! [...]

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