Savings

5 Eco-Friendly Personal Finance Tips — Beyond the Basics

by Ella Morton

You may be familiar with the basic ways of "going green" with your personal finances—paperless statements, online bill pay, personal payment apps, and mobile banking-which contribute to reducing the amount of paper you use and eliminating waste. These digital banking services can also help you stay on track when it comes to managing your personal finances, so it's a win-win for you and the and planet.

Now that you have the basics of an eco-friendly financial life covered, are you ready to take your financial habits to a new shade of green? Consider these green finance tips:

1. Ask the question: How green is my bank

Take the opportunity to evaluate not just your own eco habits, but also those of the institutions that handle your money. Check out independent reports on the sustainability practices of the financial organizations with which you interact: Have they committed to supporting financial activities that provide eco-friendly solutions that benefit your community, for example? Research independent lists of the world's "greenest banks" for more information on your provider.

2. Consider eco-investing

If you find yourself wanting to make a more eco-conscious contribution with your investments, you may want to consider an investment in businesses that actively develop-or promote the development of-sustainable resources and environmentally-friendly products. Remember, before making any changes to your allocations, you should consult with your financial advisor.

3. Make an eco-friendly donation with your money — or your time

Whether or not you decide that an investment in an eco - friendly company is right for you and your financial goals, a donation to an organization that promotes the sustainability goals that you support is another option to explore. Remember, there's more than one way to contribute: You can also volunteer your time virtually to help further the cause of an organization that you support. Sites like VolunteerMatch.org* make it easy to find ways to volunteer with environmental organizations that match your interests—and some also offer apps that share updates on new volunteer opportunities as soon as they become available.

4. Consider a green mortgage

If you're thinking about making eco-friendly improvements to your home — or in the market for a new property — explore your "green" home loan options. The Federal Housing Administration's Energy Efficient Mortgage program (EEM) may help you save money by financing expenses associated with adding energy efficiency features to your home. An energy inspection report with associated costs must be submitted with your application, and a variety of other eligibility requirements apply. To explore whether you might be eligible, visit HUD.gov*.

5. Choose the green options for your financial paper and plastic

Separating out bottles and cans has become second nature, but what do you do with little plastic items like gift cards? Many of these cards are made from a base of PVC, which isn't widely recycled. There's a way to save them from ending up as landfill, however: You can mail old cards to a company called Earthworks*, which breaks them down and turns them into new ones. When purchasing gift cards, look for those made from biodegradable materials — a few big retailers have switched to biopolymer cards, while others offer wooden cards. An even greener option is to buy a virtual gift card online and have it sent via email. And on the few occasions when you do write a check, opt for ones that are made from recycled paper.

For a refresher on some of the digital banking tools that can help you keep your personal finances green, check out 5 Tech Tools for Keeping Up with Your Financial Life.

*Remember to always check the terms and privacy policy before visiting these websites and make sure you understand and are comfortable with the types of information collected and how it is used.

*Please note that by visiting the URL or hyperlink referenced in this publication you will enter another website created, operated and maintained by a different entity.

Ella Morton began her career as a consumer tech journalist for CNET Australia before moving to New York in 2009. She has produced and hosted an online travel show, written online financial content, co-wrote The Record Setter Book of World Records, and is currently writing The Atlas Obscura, a 500-page guide to the world's most wondrous places.

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