How to Be Fiscally Responsible and Environmentally Conscious

closeup photo of 100 US dollar banknotes

What does it mean to be fiscally responsible? You’ve likely heard the term before, particularly within the context of politics. Every time the government draws up a new budget, state officials discuss the need to build long-term fiscal responsibility to keep debt low and economic growth stable. Fiscal responsibility is a term that’s used to say that the nation’s money will be spent responsibly, so every American can benefit from it. 

It’s a concept that helps our nation invest in the services and institutions that matter. So can this concept be applied to our own lives? 

Indeed it can. Fiscal responsibility doesn’t have to be just for the government. We can practice it in our daily lives to make our money work for us over the long-term. 

In this article, we share with you ways to become fiscally responsible and environmentally conscious both at the same time. 

What does it mean to be fiscally responsible? 

To be fiscally responsible is to have a good handle on your finances.

It means having stable finances with little to no debt, just like how the Federal Reserve offsets its liabilities with assets when it strives to be fiscally responsible. You’re able to pay off any debt you have each month. 

You also have enough savings so you’re neither stressed about pinching every penny nor agitated because you’re too nervous to use the money you’ve saved.

When you’re fiscally responsible, you make conscious financial decisions for your future self. You only buy items that are essential and bring satisfaction to you. 

And you invest in financial products such as retirement plans that will help you maintain financial stability for decades. 

People who are fiscally responsible build a mindset that money has to be managed well if we are to benefit from it. They prioritize careful planning and budgeting because they’re the two most important tools that help them build their wealth.  

Why is it important to be fiscally responsible? 

It’s important to be fiscally responsible because it helps you achieve financial security by creating the right habits

With the recent economic crises, more and more people are at risk of financial hardship

Research by Fidelity Investments has found that more than 60% of Americans are concerned about their finances. More than half of Americans are worried that they’ll lose their jobs. 

And up to 40 million Americans face the risk of getting evicted from their homes because they’re unable to pay their rent and mortgages on time.

Being fiscally responsible helps you avoid the stressful scenarios above. Habits like monthly budgeting and daily expenses tracking help you become good at telling your money where to go

Every month you set aside a portion of your income for savings for things like emergency funds and healthcare costs.

You’re no longer afraid to look at your bank account. Instead, you feel confident that your saving and spending habits will help you save enough to live comfortably in the long and short term.

How do you become fiscally responsible?

With the right mindset and habits, you can become fiscally responsible in just a few weeks.

The key is to follow a budget and find ways to grow your wealth. Here are some tried and tested ways for you to become fiscally responsible.

Start with financial goals

You can only grow your money effectively when you know what financial goals you want to work towards and when you want to achieve them by. These can be anything from having enough money for healthcare to saving up for your child’s college expenses. 

Only when you know your goals can you set a monthly savings plan and budget. The savings plan is how much you need to save each month to meet your targets, while the budget tells you how much money you can set aside for rent, groceries, utilities, and personal indulgences.

Save money where you can 

Often you’ll find that there are things in your daily life that you can save money on. Groceries can be bought for cheap using coupons. Restaurant meals can be replaced with healthier and low-cost home-cooked meals. 

By cutting out unnecessary spending, you have more money that can be saved for your financial goals. 

Pay off debt

A cycle of debt prevents you from becoming fiscally responsible. You might get hit with high-interest rates when you’re unable to pay your loans. That could lead you to borrow from friends and family to pay off your loans, which further exacerbates the cycle of debt.

Paying off your debt as quickly as possible helps you put your bank account back in order. Without debt, you’re more likely to save up for an emergency fund and have a good credit score.

Invest in financial products

Stock portfolios, retirement plans, and college savings plans are some financial products that can help you keep your money where it’s most important. Having stocks allows you to diversify your assets while retirement plans and college funds ensure that you have enough money when you reach those milestones. 

Investing in these products and contributing to them monthly helps you build your financial security gradually. Over time, you become more prepared for the important and inevitable phases in life. 

Can you be fiscally responsible and environmentally conscious?

How you use your money doesn’t have to be separate from your eco-conscious beliefs. 

You can be fiscally responsible and environmentally conscious at the same time by selecting investment options that help the planet. Investment platforms such as OpenInvest, Earthfolio, and SVX help you make a positive impact while you save toward your financial goals.

OpenInvest

OpenInvest is an online robo-advisor platform that allows you to open a brokerage account or an IRA tailored to the environmental impacts you want to make. The platform lets you choose the Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) criteria you care about and suggests companies for you to invest in based on your choices. 

Earthfolio

Earthfolio is an automated investing service that offers low-cost investment options in mutual funds and Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) that promote clean technology, environmental responsibility, and animal welfare. You can open an individual account, a trust account, or a 401(k) to invest in a diversified ESG portfolio

SVX

SVX is a Canadian-based impact-investing platform that helps investors connect with ventures and funds involved in environmental conservation and clean technology. Users can browse the platform for investment opportunities most suited to their goals and make a direct contribution to the venture or fund of their choice. 

Look for socially responsible banking solutions

In addition to eco-friendly investment platforms, you can also save your money with a socially responsible bank to achieve fiscal responsibility. 

These are banks that uphold some of the highest ethical standards concerning social and environmental issues. Some are certified B Corporations while others are minority-owned banks.

Certified B Corporations

Certified B Corporation banks are for-profit businesses that uphold strict transparency policies and socially responsible practices. They pay fair wages to their staff and regularly publish financial reports to hold themselves accountable.

Many banks with B Corp certification focus on helping their customers grow their wealth and contribute to social causes. They are prohibited from doing any harm to the environment or any community.

Well-known certified B Corporation banks include Amalgamated Bank, Beneficial State Bank, and Mascoma Bank.

Amalgamated Bank is one of America’s largest B Corp banks. They have lent nearly $700 million to businesses and organizations working in clean energy and environmental protection. They’re also one of the few banks that have aligned with the emissions goals of the Paris Climate Agreement. 

Beneficial State Bank follows a similar ethos – as a triple-bottom-line bank they have provided capital to change-agents such as businesses working to make renewable energy more accessible for middle- and low-income communities.  

Mascoma Bank is a 120-year old bank that operates on mutual governance without any shareholders. They do not engage in any environmentally or socially destructive industries but instead work for the benefit of the communities they serve. 

Minority-owned banks

Minority-owned banks are another option for banking responsibly. Their priority is to help people in underserved communities grow their wealth and keep it among themselves. 

They are mostly run by people of color with black, Native American, Asian, or LatinX heritage. Minority-owned banks fill the financial service gap in places where large, predominantly white-run banks do not deem profitable. 

These might be Native American reservations where people have to travel for miles to find a bank or inner-city neighborhoods with high rates of poverty.

Minority-owned banks also provide financial products and services tailored to the needs of the communities they serve. Chickasaw Community Bank, for example, provides home loans for people who have had credit issues in the past. Others like OneUnited Bank host special financial literacy classes for customers who struggle with interest rates and savings schemes. 

Other ways you can bank responsibly 

It’s not just banks that can help you become fiscally responsible. Aspiration is a B Corp certified online financial platform that can help you grow your wealth. 

We offer unique products and services that are aligned with the highest environmental standards on the planet. Our Spend & Save account, for example, offers up to 1.00% APY on savings deposits and does not lend any money to fossil fuel companies. 

Customers can also earn up to 10% cashback when they shop with any of our Conscience Coalition partners, which include socially responsible companies Warby Parker and TOMS.

Aspiration is committed to helping our customers build a financially secure future. Try Aspiration today and make your money work for you. 

*Photo by Pepi Stojanovski on Unsplash

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