The first thing to note: I’m on the fence about this whole capitalism thing. As I think about investment and savings, I’m always wondering if 70-year old Andrea will have the opportunity to reap the rewards of my decades of investment, or will the white supremacist, fossil fuel evildoers have their way and kill everything livable and beautiful on our planet? On most days I believe the former, and I invest as such. So here’s the story about how I am building my sustainable investment and retirement portfolio.
Over the past two years I’ve gotten really excited about finances generally and investment specifically. If you had told me three years ago that sustainable investing would be my newest passion, I would not have believed you. Now I spend weekend afternoons reading prospectuses and learning about the difference between market or limit buys with the customer service team at TD Ameritrade.
I have deep conversations with my friends about their retirement planning and investments, and deep conversations with my sweetheart (a formal financial advisor and mortgage industry professional – yes, it’s very helpful!) about the future of money and the economy. I co-facilitate a women’s finance group at my coworking space; I even moved the Stocks iPhone app out of my Junk folder, and use it to see what’s happening with #TSLA (still down). It’s been a huge transformation.
I have no kids, so my primary goal is saving for present and future. And as a values-driven human, I’m committed to making the best decisions for both my financial security and our planet. My personal values are deeply focused on sustainability and gender equity. When I began my investment journey, I assumed it would be pretty easy to find investments that aligned with my values – but you know what they say about assumptions.
A Life Committed to Sustainable Values
Some background: When I was a kid, I wrote my school papers about humpback whales and saving the Amazon rainforest; I became an ethical vegetarian when I was 14, and have never once chosen a different option. When I was a barista as a teenager I started an in-house recycling program and carried the gross jugs of milk to the local recycling center a few times a week, which inevitably stunk up my little car. All this to say, I’ve always held really strong values around environmental issues, and I remain steadfast in my dedication to a deeply sustainable lifestyle.
I really, truly believe that everyday we have the opportunity to vote with our dollarsfor the future that we want to see. Many of us have the opportunity to make excellent, sustainable choices each day when we choose what to eat, where to shop, how to buy, and how to invest our money. Though I decided to use standard investment modalities and platforms, I was determined to find sustainable investing opportunities that align with my deep green values.
What’s in Your Portfolio – and WHY?
If you’ve worked with regular financial planners, you know they are focused on getting you the best return on your investment (well, if they are good advisors, anyway). But what companies are in your portfolio to garner those consistent returns? Unfortunately, many traditional investments (including some of the ‘green’ or ‘sustainable’ funds) are built around well-performing stocks and funds built around companies that are anything but sustainable.
These well-performing stocks can ensure a more stable financial outlook… for now. If your portfolio contains oil, gas, coal and other dying industries, it’s time to get out: #divestyourinvestment
We are facing a climate crisis – a true climate emergency. Whatever phrasing you choose, it’s happening, and it would be smart if financial advisors took this into consideration. Despite those historically good returns, we are swiftly approaching peak oil. This means that within 5-6 years, global oil production with be cut in half. Sure, I’m a novice investor, but it seems really commonsensical to me – if you know your company stocks are going to be facing huge losses in coming years, don’t you want out… uh, NOW?