My last apartment was across the street from one of my favorite fast-food restaurants. In the summer, when the windows were open, the smell of french fries and chicken filled the whole apartment. The easy access and constant reminders of their food made it difficult to avoid spending money there.
I needed to defund my fast food habit.
Now, cutting back on fast food didn’t mean I should stop spending on food altogether. Rather, that it would be in my best interest to reallocate my funds towards healthier food options.
Using the same line of thinking, defunding the police means the government needs to reallocate funds towards more beneficial means of public safety.
Obviously, the city budget is a lot more complex than my own. There are more people whose needs have to be considered, more diverse expenses, and a lot more money.
But the analogy can still be useful to get a better understanding of the reasoning behind “defund the police.”
When activists and protesters use “defund the police,” it isn’t a call to end public safety. The movement is meant to address the problems with our current view of safety and create a new system that works better for all people.
Right now, policing is the most prominent form of public safety. However, policing does not serve and protect all Americans equally. Neighborhoods of color are disproportionately policed. Black and Latinx Americans are disproportionately arrested and incarcerated.
In an effort to better serve myself, I had to think critically about my dinner plans. Similarly, in an effort to better serve our communities, we have to reimagine public safety.
What does a world without police look like? In the words of Congresswoman Alexandra Ocasio Cortez, “A suburb.”
In a wealthy suburb, the government meets the community’s needs. Schools are well funded. Residents have access to quality healthcare. People aren’t forced to decide whether to spend money on rent or food.
A suburb (for my Minnesotans, think Edina, Wayzata, or Minnetonka) is a safe place to walk around without a large police presence. In other words, the police are not the key to public safety in places like the suburbs.
Building safe communities is not a simple task. It will require better budgeting, more impactful community programs and services, fuller enfranchisement for all people, and a lot more.
Our communities are worth the investment.
We believe that good investments and good companies are not exclusive of one another. How do we cater investments to align with our clients’ progressive values? Our portfolios are guided by impact investing, an approach that combines the other ethical investing tactics to ensure your dollars are working towards real change in the world.
Socially Responsible Investing
Investopedia defines SRI, or Socially Responsible Investing, as investments that are considered socially responsible due to the nature of the business the company conducts. In other words, SRI ensures you’re not investing in companies that harm our planet and our society.
SRI began in the 1960s to promote women’s rights, civil rights, and anti-war movements. With the expansion of communication and corporate transparency, socially responsible investing has grown significantly in the last 60 years.
Usually, SRI portfolios are centered around a theme. At Invested Interests, we have three portfolios that are customizable to your financial goals. They are the environment, peace, and human rights + diversity.
ESG stands for environmental, social, and governance. In terms of investing, ESG means making financial decisions that promote environmental, social, and governance issues.
Environmental factors for investing include promoting sustainability and divesting from environmental harm. This could look like supporting alternative and renewable energy, like solar and wind. It also means avoiding oil and fossil fuel companies as well as companies destroying natural resources.
The funds in our portfolios invest in companies promoting sustainability and don’t sacrifice returns. Electric cars are cheaper to own than gas-powered vehicles. Wind and solar energy are already cheaper than fossil fuels. By investing in companies promoting sustainability and green solutions, you’re not just doing the right thing – you’re doing the smart thing.
Social factors for investing are those that promote the wellbeing of humanity. When choosing a company to invest in, we look for those that have a strong socially responsible outlook. They may contribute back to organizations and causes either locally, nationally, or globally that help combat hunger, stop the spread of disease or other worthwhile causes that make a difference on our planet.
In our portfolios, we use funds promoting conflict resolution or international relief efforts. Additionally, these funds also avoid companies with human rights violations and war profiteering, such as weapons dealers and manufacturers.
Governance factors illustrate whether a company operates with accountability, integrity, and equality in all of its practices. To determine a company’s focus on progressive governance, an independent source can review their commitment to inclusion by looking at the diversity of their leadership, assess their work standards and code of conduct, and
explore their transparency.
At Invested Interests, the funds in our portfolios include companies with high internal standards. This can include looking at the company’s candidate backing, commitment to giving back to the community, and more.
Impact Investing solves global challenges by investing in companies developing solutions to those challenges. Using SRI investing to filter companies and ESG investing to find the best in each sector, Invested Interests uses Impact Investing to make our ethical portfolios.
Two more key components of impact investing are intentionality and accountability. As impact investors, the intention behind our investments is to have a positive social or environmental impact on our world. Impact Investing is based on accountability. Ethical Investors choose to hold both themselves and the companies they invest in accountable for their actions.
If you’re ready to start investing, you might be asking yourself “why should I invest with Invested Interests?” Here are some of the many reasons we think we’re the best!
- Only Ethical Investing Options
We spend 100% of our time focusing on socially responsible investing. While many investment firms have some ethical investing options, few can say that’s all they do! Our team has been dedicated to impact investing since we started.
- Working with Real People
Investing with Invested Interests means that real people are managing your investments and answering your questions. With Invested Interests, there’s no fear of Robo Advisors or automated messages. Everything is managed by real people who know you and your unique financial goals!
- No Minimum Investment
We think that ethical investing should be an option for any investor. That’s why we have no minimum investment, get started with us no matter what you’re ready to invest.
Still not sure if we’re the right fit? Reach out and get to know us today!
How does racism impact personal finance?
Recently, I’ve seen headlines about how your zip code relates to your personal finances. And, while it’s true there is a correlation between location and finances, your geographic location isn’t determining anything.
The relationship between zip code and debt is the relationship between segregation and discrimination. Across the United States, segregation and discrimination ensured that people of color, especially Black people, were not offered the same financial opportunities as white people.
Segregation pushed marginalized people into the same geographic areas. Using political boundaries and racist policies, these segregated communities were divested from for generations. The legacy of this sort of institutional oppression can now be seen in the connection between geography and debt.
Throughout the last century, segregation was a powerful tool for shaping the community. In 1896, segregation was legally promoted by the Supreme Court in the case of Plessy v. Ferguson, which ruled segregation was constitutional. Throughout the mid-20th century, Jim Crow Laws kept Black and white Americans separated in schools, libraries, parks, drinking fountains, restrooms, trains, buses, and restaurants.
Segregation laws were especially potent in the housing market. On a federal level, government agencies, such as the Home Owners Loan Corporation (HOLC), enacted racist policies that deemed neighborhoods of color “undesirable.” The “hazardous” and “undesirable” neighborhoods were denied housing loans and capital investment.
Policies like this spurred white flight. The policies made it accessible and appealing for white families to find single-family homes in the suburbs. This, in turn, increased the effects of racial segregation.
While many of these racist practices are no longer legal, the legacy of all this discrimination is still present. The majority of neighborhoods the HOLC deemed “hazardous” are low-to-moderate income and have a majority of racial minority residents. In other words, these neighborhoods are still struggling with poverty and residents are largely people of color.
Tools of Discrimination
So, when we see the correlation between zip code and debt, it is important to recognize that the relationship is not accidental. Knowing how segregation continues to impact communities today, it is clear that racist systems have contributed to the financial makeup of American neighborhoods.
In the United States, poverty disproportionately affects people of color, specifically Black and Hispanic residents. Many of the causes of poverty can be tied to racial injustices. And, policies that promoted segregation made it easy for businesses and the government to strategically divest from communities of color.
The root causes of poverty include lack of education, lack of food and water, lack of infrastructure, lack of government support, and more. Each of these causes can be directly related to racial injustice in the United States.
Communities of color disproportionately face environmental degradation in ways that threaten their drinking water. This environmental racism extends to infrastructure. Communities of color are more likely to be exposed to pollution. Historically, communities of color have received less and lower quality infrastructure than predominantly white communities.
Moreover, the progress for white communities has often been achieved at the expense of people of color. In the 1950s and 60s, many Black neighborhoods were destroyed to expand the growing highway system. Here in Minnesota, St. Paul’s Rondo neighborhood was home to a diverse group of residents from the 1850s until 1956 when it was torn in half to build Interstate 94 (I-94).
America is a nation built on the exploitation of people of color. From the genocide of indigenous people and the trafficking of Africans into slavery to today’s prison industrial complex and overreliance on military spending, the United States has engineered a system in which it is necessary for people to be exploited and abused for profit.
When a system necessitates such dehumanization and destruction, it is clear that something is desperately wrong with that system.
Moving forward in such a convoluted system can feel impossible, but major changes to our world are possible through collective actions. We can find inspiration in PRIDE, the Black Power Movement, #MeToo, Black Lives Matter, and many more.
When we take action to support our communities and historically divested communities across the country, we can make a difference.
Financially, we can invest in peace, diversity, and the environment and divest from violence and discrimination. We can support our neighbors through mutual aid funds and buying local. We can vote with our wallet for social change.
Politically, we can support policy changes that build a more collective society and build political accountability. We can defund the police, abolish the death penalty, and more. We can support everyone’s basic human rights, including access to housing and healthcare. We can fight for tax reform and restructure government budgets to work for the people, prioritizing community needs and education. We can begin to discuss what reparations could look like for Americans on both an individual and community scale.
When we work together, we can build a better future for everyone.
With the expansion of women’s financial rights throughout the 20th century, women are increasingly present in investing. Throughout the late 1800s and early 1900s, female financiers pushed societal norms to include women in financial decisions. Today, women are a powerful force in finance.
When did women start investing?
200 years ago, American women were not allowed to vote, own property, or invest. In order to break into the bustling stock exchange, women paid commissions to men to invest on their behalf. 40 years before they had the right to vote, women in America were beginning to enter the investing market. Some female pioneers opened women-only brokerages.
Early female investors in the late 19th and early 20th century were constantly berated by critics who believed women were too emotionally unstable to weather the ups and downs of the market. Pushing societal narratives around women and money was (and still is) not easy. Prominent women in finance faced extreme backlash; financier Hetty Green was often persecuted by the press and nicknamed the “Witch of Wall Street.”
It wasn’t until 50 years after Green’s death that, in 1967, Muriel Siebert became the first woman to own a seat on the New York Stock Exchange. Women’s financial rights expanded throughout the 1970s. In 1974, the Equal Credit Opportunity Act granted women the right to open a bank account or get a credit card in their own name without the permission of their husbands.
How are women changing the game of investing?
Today, American women control more than $10 trillion, or about a third of total U.S. household financial assets. With that number expected to rise over the next decade, female investors are not a niche market but underserved clients.
Young women are more knowledgeable about personal finance than the generations before them and invest differently than men their same age. Women are more likely to pursue socially-conscious impact investing.
Women have been at the forefront of ESG – environmental, social, and governance – investing, pushing for investment options that align with their values. With more young women entering the world of investment, impact investing is likely to continue to expand.
What does the future hold for women and investing?
The past and present of women in investing are largely white. While the gender gap in investing is changing, it is necessary to ensure all women are represented in personal finance. The future for women in investing needs to be intersectional and inclusive.
The future of investing must include building wealth for women in historically-divested communities. A few high-profile female investors do not change the reality that over half of the 37 million Americans living in poverty today are women. In every ethnic and racial group, women are more likely to live in poverty than men.
The future of investing for women offers us an opportunity for a redistribution of wealth for the benefit of all women.
With no investment minimum, Invested Interests believes that building wealth through strategic and ethical investing should be an opportunity for all people. To learn more about our approach to impactful investing, check out InvestedInterests.com and reach out today.
With 2021 only a few weeks away, our New Year’s Resolutions are right around the corner. Managing a budget, meeting our financial goals, and improving our financial health is an important ambition for many of us.
So, how can we prep for financial success in 2021?
As we’ve heard a lot over the last year, 2020 has been full of many unprecedented events. We’re all facing new challenges. Many people have faced unforeseen financial struggles this year; there are still more than 20 million Americans without any or enough work.
There is no magic budgeting trick to mitigate the losses we’ve encountered this year. So, however you choose to manage your personal finances, our number one tip for success in 2020 is to be kind to yourself and your neighbors.
Here are some of our best budget approaches for 2021:
1. Essentials-Only Budget
If you’re under financial strain this year, you’re not alone. If you’ve lost your job, had a medical emergency, or been dealt with other unforeseen expenses, you might be looking to cut your spending as much as possible. An essentials-only budget can help you reduce your expense for a short time while you get back on your feet.
2. Intentional Spending
Intentional Spending is the practice of money mindfulness. This can help you cut costs and align your finances and your values. To start spending intentionally, create a list of your personal values and financial goals. Then, go through your finances to see where your spending doesn’t match your intentions.
An intentional budget is not a joyless one. Including expenses that motivate you and uphold your values can keep your budget realistic. If a cup of coffee from your favorite local cafe brightens your morning, add it to your budget.
This budgeting rule allocates 50% of your finances to your needs, 30% to your wants, and 20% to future you. First, your needs are things like bills, groceries, housing, or transportation. Next, wants are things like going out with your friends or your favorite streaming services. Finally, future you includes debt payments, savings, and investing.
This budget can help you build a healthy relationship with money without spreadsheets calculating every penny you spend. You can budge the rule a little to help meet your needs. For instance, maybe your needs move up to 60%, making your budget more of a 60/25/15. That’s ok! Or, for you, maybe Spotify is a need to get work done.
Overall, this budget is meant to help you build your personal finances for future you. Money can seem scary, but it doesn’t have to with easy budgeting tricks and tips.
4. One-Number Approach
For budget beginners, this easy approach can help you understand your finances. Start with your monthly take-home pay. Then, subtract all your fixed expenses including housing, subscriptions, savings/investments, and more. Finally, take that number and divide it by 4.3 (the average number of weeks in a month. This is your one number — all you have to do to stay on budget is keep your weekly expenses under that number.
5. Blogs, Podcasts, Books, and More
Maybe you already have a budget in place but are still looking for money-saving or investment advice. Where do you go?
For a variety of budgeting ideas, check out a blog like Mr. Money Moustache. Mr. Money Moustache helps you get your finances in order with inspiration, tips, and tricks for anyone getting their finances together. If you’re in search of a more focused discussion on personal finance, opt for a book like The Index Card: Why Personal Finance Doesn’t Have to Be Complicated.
Social media is another great place for resources on budgets, investments, and finance. Check out Invested Interests on Instagram. Our #FinanceFriday posts will provide your feed with weekly financial updates.
Whatever combination of budgeting tips you use, make sure your finances work for both present you and future you. By building up your savings account and investing now, you can help alleviate future financial strains.
In addition, opting for socially responsible investments can help ensure your dollars support you and your values. If your ready to start your ethical investing journey, call us or send us an email! We’re here to help answer your investing questions and get you started with an investment portfolio that works for you.
What is an investment portfolio?
An investment portfolio is a compilation of investment opportunities usually managed by an investment advisor and focused on a specific theme. Portfolios are sometimes likened to a basket that holds a variety of assets, including stocks, bonds, cash, and more.
You can manage your portfolio yourself or hire a company to do so. Hiring a financial advisor to build and manage your portfolio has many benefits. A good advisor is knowledgeable about your financial options and can help tailor your portfolio to your specific goals.
Why opt for a portfolio?
Investment portfolios help balance financial security and potential. By investing across a diverse range of assets, your finances will better weather the ups and downs of the market. And, by investing, you can increase the potential wealth growth significantly more than by simply placing your money in a bank account.
In addition, a portfolio managed by an investment firm can give you even more options and security. Having a financial advisor means more options and knowledge to build your portfolio specifically for you. A good investment firm understands the market and can help you build a strong portfolio focused on your individual goals.
How do I choose the right portfolio?
The most important part of choosing a portfolio is making sure it reflects your financial goals. As ethical investors, our financial goals generally include supporting our community and investing in our values.
Looking at investment portfolios can be overwhelming. We recommend looking for a portfolio that aligns with your areas of interest. If you’re passionate about inclusion and equity, check out a portfolio focused on human rights and diversity.
What portfolios does II have?
Invested Interests portfolios focused on the environment & sustainability, human rights & diversity, and peace. We realize that everyone’s financial goals and values are different. At Invested Interests, our financial advisor will help build your unique portfolio.
Not sure where to start, check out our overview of socially responsible investment portfolios. If you’re looking to start your investing journey or have questions about investing with us, give us a call or send us an email. We’re happy to help you out.