Ethical health check can give your finances the feel-good factor

Being “good” with your money can be about more than just bagging a bargain in the shops, or getting favourable returns on your savings. Where you choose to put your hard-earned cash can also have a positive impact on wider society and the environment.

If the environment is a concern, you can switch to a greener energy supplier online. Photograph: PA
If the environment is a concern, you can switch to a greener energy supplier online. Photograph: PA

Indeed, we are entering Good Money Week, a campaign to help grow and raise awareness of sustainable, responsible and ethical finance.

From making sure your pension is invested in funds that marry up with your values, to mindful shopping and supporting your local community, here are some tips from the campaign’s director Charlene Cranny.

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Know your values

Firstly, sit down and have a think about your ethics, what you stand for and what you’d be happy for your money to support – and equally what you would not feel comfortable with your money supporting. For example, is renewable energy your passion, or shopping Fairtrade, or ensuring that the local community is invested in?

Or have you recently gone meat-free or cut down on your use of plastic and want this to be reflected in the industries your money supports? Referring back to your particular values will help guide you through your actions.

Mention the pension

Around 9.3 million of us will be investing in workplace pensions by the end of this year, which means millions upon millions of pounds are being invested in the name of the UK’s workforce. But in new research commissioned by Good Money Week, over half (53.3 per cent) of those surveyed stated that they have no idea where their pensions are being invested.

That’s why this year’s Good Money Week campaign is focused on encouraging the UK’s workforce to find out where their pension is invested.

This can be done simply by asking your boss or HR manager to check whether it’s invested in funds that match up with you and your colleagues’ values.

Many pension providers offer an “ethical” or “sustainable” option – but it may not have been used as your default. One in six (15.4 per cent) people say would feel awkward asking their employer where their workplace pension is invested. But getting over this awkwardness will help ensure that your pension money is used for “good”.

Change current accounts

Thanks to services such as Current Account Switch Service (Cass), it has never been easier to switch. The numbers of ethical banks operating in the UK are growing at an encouraging rate. Co-operative Bank, for example, has a customer-led ethical policy. And Triodos Bank has an ethical investment policy and publishes details of the organisations it finances.

Shift your savings

Even the most bog-standard savings account will be sending your hard-earned pennies somewhere, so have a look around at how you could be using your savings more positively.

Consider ‘green’ energy

Like changing current accounts, switching energy providers is no longer the headache it once was with several green energy suppliers available, including Bulb, Ecotricity and Good Energy.

Support your local community

We should all be shopping mindfully and avoiding wasteful purchases, but when you do need to shop, you may want to try going local. As well as more cash staying on your local high street and benefiting the surrounding economy, when you shop at a local butcher’s, baker’s, farm shop or green grocer’s, a good bulk of the produce may have had a relatively short “field-to-fork” journey and less single-use plastic packaging.

Consider investing

Some investment platforms offer investments that have a positive impact on the environment and society. You could try making a small commitment and see what happens – you may discover the returns are more encouraging than you thought.