It is tax season, and money is on my mind. It is the time of year when I ask myself if my bank statements and tax returns reflect my faith. What would someone who does not know me learn by my spending, giving, and investing?
I was very fortunate to grow up in a family that modeled tithing (giving 10%) and charitable giving. Putting our offering in the plate as it was passed each week during worship was never explained to me by my parents and grandparents, it was simply demonstrated. The first time I remember a conversation about charitable giving was when my grandparents were audited by the IRS because they gave so much money to charitable organizations. My grandfather was quite stressed as he gathered and organized all his receipts and canceled checks (this was before computers). While I was horrified to learn that the IRS audits people like my grandparents, I was also so proud to know that it was because they gave so much money away. My grandparents’ bank statements clearly reflected their faith.
Nothing we do should be separate from our faith, including what we do with our money. From choosing to support small businesses and local farmers over chain stores whenever possible to thoughtful banking and investing, our money should reflect our values.
The world’s major banks have provided trillions of dollars to fossil fuel companies since 2015, including U.S. banks, JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citibank, and Bank of America (1). Luckily, the demand for green banking and environmental, social, and governance (ESG) investments is off the charts, making it easy and safe to “put our money where our mouth is.”
I am not certified to give banking or investment advice, but I will share with you some suggestions and guidance that I follow and encourage you to learn more about your banks, personal investing and retirement investments.
- I do my banking at a local Credit Union. Choose local banks whenever possible, and avoid JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citibank and Bank of America. Learn more here.
- I use a green credit card. Learn more here.
- My personal investing and retirement are now ESGs. Learn more here.
Perhaps one of the most important things that I have learned is that I have the right to ask questions and to keep asking until I understand. And I’ve realized that I’m not alone. There are tens of thousands of people – many of them my age or older – who are moving their money to climate friendly banks and investments. Aligning my money with my faith is ongoing work and I did not get where I am quickly. Start by reflecting on this past year’s tax return and then make a plan, starting with the easiest steps, to “green” your money.
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About the Author:
Rev. Carol Devine, Blessed Tomorrow Director, ecoAmerica
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