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Three Ways Your Money Matters

As the Liza Minelli song goes “money makes the world go round”. Every dollar, euro, pound, yen, lira, peso that you earn, spend, and save, places a vote. It places a vote into the economy signaling the kind of world you want to live in and the future you want to see. It communicates to companies, banks, and governments what you expect from them and what you are willing to accept.

The more we understand where and how we hold power; the more effectively we can harness it. Financial literacy (and political literacy, in fact) is the most important skill in a changemakers toolkit. Regardless of where you are in your career or financial journey, if you earn, spend or save money you hold power; even students with limited income and considerable expense. So how does our money matter?


Where you get your money from is the primary way your money makes an impact but often it is the last area that people think to consider. This can include the pay from the jobs you have, side hustles, cashback schemes, the money made (returns) on investments, interest, and so forth. Where you get your money from can range in impact and your ability to change or increase that impact may vary on other life factors. Checking your investments is an essential place to create an impact. There is a range of sustainable investing approaches including negative screening (taking out the bad guys), ESG (financial risk framework according to environmental, social, and governance factors) and impact investing (social and environmentally positive solutions). The impact you can make with paying attention to your investments is significant.

RESOURCE: you can check the sustainable impact of your investments at places like AsYouSow. You can search their fund trackers for fossil fuels, military weapons, deforestation and more!


Where you give your money is the most common way people understand their financial power - as consumerists. Spending your money can look like many things from buying goods and services, investing, or donating. Where you choose to spend and not spend sends a message to corporations about what consumers find important i.e what will make the businesses money. Afterall, businesses aren’t going to wake up overnight and want to do the “right thing” when the opposite seems profitable. Being a conscious consumer is growing in popularity especially among Gen Z. Vote with your money and spend with brands that are doing the right thing when it comes to sustainable practices. Spending in line with your values is supported by a range of tools. You can check for deforestation, campaign finance, plastic pollution and more! You can opt to spend with small businesses, POC and women owned enterprises and create positive impact with your dollars, or you can boycott brands that don’t align with you and reduce your negative impact. Just starting to be more conscious about consumption will make a difference.

RESOURCE: you can check the involvement of brands in campaign finance (lobbying) by using GoodsUniteUs platform.


Where you keep your money is the final category and perhaps most institutionally impactful. This is about your bank accounts - current, saving, checking, and so forth. When you put your money away with a bank or association, it is not simply like a big virtual piggy bank. Your money is collectively used by the bank in various investment vehicles, and very little is in fact kept as cash like you would imagine in a piggy bank. Banks can invest in all sorts of things including fossil fuels and deforestation so paying attention to where you keep your money is vital for sustainability efforts. The annual Banking on Climate Chaos Fossil Fuel Finance Report reveals the astounding figures between fossil fuels and banks. The report identifies the “Dirty Dozen”, the top 12 banks, funding fossil fuel expansion or investment. You can check the report yourself to see if your banking institution is in the Dirty Dozen. But don’t worry, if it is, there are organisations like Switch It Green in the UK, that are making it increasingly easy to transition to green banking.

RESOURCE: check your bank account against the Dirty Dozen to see how strongly they invest in fossil fuels.

Financial literacy has endless power in addressing today’s sustainability issues. Understanding the ways your money matters can generate change from today. Whether you’re boycotting a brand for association with child labour or moving your investments into industries that align with your values, there’s something for everyone. We all hold power in different spaces and can make our money work for our future. Your money matters!


Disclaimer: Content is for informational and educational purposes only. This is not financial or investment advice.


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