Your Money, Your Voice (or Vote?)

Written by Jenifer Sapel

Jenifer is the founder of Utor Wealth, a comprehensive financial planning firm. Utor is Latin for enjoy. She enjoys her life in the PacNW with her husband, 2 boys under age 3 and 2 giant dogs. Together they adventure around their property and sometimes venture beyond.

October 21, 2020

If you grew up in the 90s, you remember the game perfection where there was literally a “frantic race” to put all the pieces in the right spaces.  If you didn’t the board would “pop up” and all your perfectly placed pieces go tumbling about.

Sounds a little like life before Covid, right?  You can’t “fall behind” the other students and must do the “right” extracurricular activities so you can go to the “right” school, then get the “right” job so you can afford the “right” house.  Of course you have to pick the “right” partner and have the “right” kids so the cycle can start again.  Not to mention the “right” clothes, cars, social media messages, taste in books, meals, etc…..

I’m exhausted just thinking of how long the goddamn list is.  And who determined what “right” looked like anyway?  And remind me what the rush is?  Who started the clock on this frantic game?

Good, bad or indifferent, the events of 2020 have stopped the clock and popped out the pieces for everyone.  Some of us are still frantically trying to shove the same pieces back into the same board, some of us are just staring at the pieces in disbelief or exhaustion, and some of us are picking up each one and asking, “why did I even own this piece in the first place.”

While each of our worlds have been disassembled, many of us feel powerless as we watch the collective state of our country stretching, fraying, and breaking at the seams as well.  Personally, I believe its progress (which is always messy), but our future will only be shaped by the decisive and seemingly small actions we take each day.

Here is an exercise and example of how you can use your everyday financial decisions to influence the world you want for the future. 

There are essentially four ways we use money and as an example, I’ll use climate change.  Of course, you can do this exercise with whatever your top priority is:

SPEND – Ask, how does my spending influence climate change?

I’m no expert here but a quick google search shows many ways to consume in a more environmentally friendly way.  Choosing 1 day/week to eat vegetarian is one example or buying used (anything) clothes are quick and relatively easy adjustments.

SAVE – Ask, what is the bank doing with the money I have on deposit?

By a quick search on mightdeposits.com, I can see that there are 2 banks nationally that do not fund fossil fuels whereas Chase, Wells Fargo and Bank of America are some of the top funders for fossil fuels.  Head over to https://mightydeposits.com/ to see how your bank is using your deposits and ensure you aren’t funding areas you’d rather not by default.

INVEST – Ask, what impact are my investment choices making?

There are many ways to be an impact investor, climate change is one of the most accessible among options.  Management companies like Calvert, publish on their website how your investment influences sustainable choices compared to similar investments without a sustainability focus.  Coincidently, because of the Covid pause we experienced as a nation and a dramatic decrease in fuel consumption, socially responsible funds outperformed their traditional investment options in Q1 this year. 

GIVE –  Ask, how can I make effective donations toward my cause?

Again, a quick google search here and a NY Times article has done a lot of the heavy lifting for you.  Something they smartly point out, political donations is one of the most effective strategies.

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