Back to the Basics

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Gary R. Matthews

SRI investors want to utilize their investments to contribute to a world and economy that is safer and generates more opportunities for everyone – in addition to providing for their own financial futures. It’s helpful to remind ourselves occasionally how it is we generate the investment assets that allow us to be SRI investors in the first place.  

 Saving for the short-term

 Too many Americans don’t have enough money in savings. According to a 2017 CareerBuilder article, nearly 80% of Americans spend all of their income just to make ends meet. While many of these people are stuck in low-wage positions, nearly one in ten workers who earn over $100,000 or more are in the same boat.

 It is a predicament that became all too evident in the wake of the recent government shutdown. During the closure, the media reported many stories of federal employees who were running out of money after missing one or two paychecks. There is no excuse for the shutdown itself, which was totally unnecessary. It did, however, exemplify those unforeseen events that can result in financial hardship without adequate savings.   

 Don’t wait to start socking money away. If you can save, then by all means do save. Pay yourself by stashing away funds regularly, whenever possible. I would recommend gathering at least three to six months of emergency funds. A financial house that is in disorder is among the leading causes of unhealthy stress.

 Saving for the long-term

 Saving regularly not only protects you from short-term emergencies. It’s also the key to becoming financially independent in your later years. The earlier we begin saving the better because of the magic of compounding. Those deposits made while young have decades to grow. But don’t waste the chance to increase your savings now, whatever your age.

 My SRI clients are fortunate enough to have savings to invest – for their own financial benefit as well as contributing to a better world. Many of them, however, wish they had saved more earlier in their lives so they wouldn’t need to worry now about their own welfare at all, and could focus more on putting their money to work for the good of others.

 Knowing where your money goes

 Saving can often be very hard, ironically, even for those who have ample income and credit availability. The bills are getting paid and dinners out don’t seem a burden. It can seem so easy that many don’t even bother to keep track.

 There are so many computer programs and apps out there that help us to know how and where we are spending our money. If you aren’t using one of them then much of your potential savings are most likely disappearing needlessly.

 Having and keeping a budget is also a very good idea, even if you don’t think you need one. And you don’t have to be an accountant to use tools like Quicken or Mint. Do your own research. Find the right money tracking tool for you - and use it.

 Credit cards and personal debt

 Of course, the opposite of saving is going into debt. Credit cards are a great convenience and most pay some type of reward for using them, but they are also dangerous. Don’t place yourself in bondage to monthly payments. Pay off your credit card bills monthly if at all possible and avoid those steep interest charges.

 Be an SRI Investor!

 When you’ve paid attention to these money basics, you will find soon enough that you have accumulated savings. You’ll have assets to invest. We all live and participate in an integrated global economy that runs on the continuous circulation and application of capital – that is, the money we earn or inherit and use to spend or invest. How we spend and/or invest our money is creating the world we are living into, and the world our children and grandchildren will inherit.

 To invest our money wisely, then, is to realize that our investments not only have the potential to benefit ourselves. They also have the potential to contribute to a better world. SRI helps us to invest wisely. What an opportunity for those of us fortunate enough to have assets to invest.