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Turn green into gold

Turn green into gold

Taking an eco-friendly outlook isn’t just about rewarding the environment. It’s possible to turn ‘green’ into gold with environmentally-aware money management.

A simple starting point is to go 100 percent electronic for personal banking. Managing your money and paying bills online is an easy way to trim transport costs and emissions and reduce paper waste.

A survey by Nielson last year for example found around 70 percent of Australians use online banking but surprisingly, around half of us are still visiting branches. If your bank offers e-statements, as most do, taking up the offer to receive statements electronically rather than in the mail can cut back on paper consumption.

Next, take a good look at your investments. There’s a wide range of managed funds – including superannuation funds, that follow ‘socially responsible investing’ (SRI) principles.

SRI funds use a variety of screening methods to focus on companies, industries and sectors that encourage sustainability and social governance while avoiding activities that are less desirable because of say, poor human rights practices, a track record of polluting, or ongoing disregard for the environment, according to experts.

These days SRI is increasingly mainstream. Simon O’Connor, CEO of the Responsible Investment Association Australasia (RIAA) said, “Eight of the top ten investment managers in Australia have now declared themselves responsible investors by signing on to the UN Principles for Responsible Investment.”

The good news is that being kind to the environment doesn’t have to mean compromising on returns. A recent RIAA study found the five-year returns post-GFC have been stronger in all responsible fund categories compared to the benchmark and average mainstream funds.

It’s also possible to go green on other financial products like car insurance. As a guide, car insurance brand iBuyEco offers ‘100 percent carbon neutral’ cover through its partnership with Greening Australia. Part of a car’s insurance premium is used to fund tree planting projects that offset 100 percent of the vehicle’s annual carbon emissions. As part of a policy with the provider motorists will be asked how many kilometres the car travels annually to calculate its CO2 emissions – and the premium.

Other insurers like NRMA offer discounted premiums for fuel efficient vehicles.

The bottom line is that being kind to the planet doesn’t have to mean sacrificing your own financial wellbeing. It’s easy to shop around and compare prices with sites like RateCity, and look for simple ways to reduce your financial eco-footprint. You can get quotes from several car insurance brands at once by comparing car insurance on RateCity.

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