4 Tips to Improve your Financial Health

Health is at the front of our minds this time of year. Many New Year resolutions involve making healthier choices, like getting an appropriate amount of sleep, exercising more, and striving for a balanced diet. While you’re in this mode of self-improvement, why not extend these new habits to your finances as well?

Financial well-being is defined as having financial security and financial freedom of choice in the present and the future. If you’re unsure about your financial health, find out your financial well-being score by taking this test on NerdWallet.

Don’t be discouraged if you’re not as financially healthy as you’d like to be, here are a few tips to help you get your finances in order for the new year:

  1. Create a budget.

A simple budget is a great place to start and can help you understand your financial flow. Figure out your net worth, or the difference between your assets versus how much you owe. It’s normal for your net worth to fluctuate over time, and it’s a good practice to calculate it once a year to track your progress. From there, you can create a more detailed budget to help you plan for expenses and reduce unnecessary spending. If you need help creating a budget or are looking for a template, click here.

  1. Save for emergencies and adjust for lifestyle inflation

As your monthly surplus (or the extra money left over after paying necessary expenses) grows, you can establish a savings account for emergencies. These extra funds will take the pressure off so that you don’t have to live paycheck to paycheck when emergencies arise. It’s also important to adjust for lifestyle inflation as your net worth grows. It’s easy to spend more as you make more, but paying close attention to your budget will help you increase your savings as your income grows.

  1. Get rid of bad debt

Bad debt is defined as debt incurred to buy things that quickly lose their value and do not generate long-term income (e.g., a daily coffeehouse cup of coffee) or debt that carries a high interest rate (e.g., payday loans and high interest rate credit cards). In order to save as much money as possible, pay off debt with the highest APR (annual percentage rate) first.

  1. Save for retirement

Financial planners often recommend opening a retirement savings account, even if you’re currently in debt. Retirement is often overlooked when assessing financial health, but the sooner you start investing, the more your money can work for you by gaining compound interest. If you’re still in debt, investing 2 to 5% of every paycheck is a good place to start. As you pay off your debt, you can increase the amount you put towards your retirement savings. If you have the option of investing in a 401(k) at work, try to contribute the maximum amount that your employer is willing to match.

 

4 of the Best Personal Finance Resources

Whether you’re managing money your own money or balancing the books for an entire household, personal finance is a huge responsibility. Luckily, we live in an age where a seemingly endless amount of resources are available to help us budget and invest wisely.

If you’re not sure where to get started, visit your local bank or give them a ring. Your bank is intimately familiar with your finances and can offer recommendations based on your unique needs. Many banks have staff employed to help you understand your accounts and all of the services available to you.

Here are a few of the best personal finance resources we found this year:

  1. Read Unshakeable: Your Financial Freedom Playbook by Tony Robbins

In his latest book released in 2017, motivational speaker and smart investor Tony Robbins is sharing his secrets to help empower readers to take control of their finances. Unshakeable comes highly recommended by billionaires Oprah Winfrey and Allen Greenspan. This easy read is full of valuable advice that will apply no matter what your income level.

  1. Subscribe to a personal finances podcast

Podcasts are a great way to pass the time while sitting in traffic and there are plenty of shows on the topic of financial literacy. One of our favorites is the So Money podcast with Farnoosh Torabi, which covers topics ranging from investment to entrepreneurship and more. So Money is a short daily podcast that makes it easy to stay up-to-date with financial news. If your primary concern is increasing your cash flow, we recommend the Cash Flow Diary podcast with Gary Douglas.

  1. Join a personal finance forum online.

Online forums are a great tool for participating in lively conversations and staying up to date on financial news. FICO has a great online forum that provides information about credit scores and a wide range of financial topics. YNAB Forums is a great option for anyone who’s ready to get serious about budgeting.

  1. Study finance at the Khan Academy

The Khan Academy is a nonprofit that provides free video presentations on various topics, including financial topics. The Khan Academy helps viewers make the connection between their personal financial choices and the larger economic climate with easy-to-digest personalized videos. They even have lesson plans and tests to help you track your know-how.

5 Reasons Why Travel Insurance Might Be a Good Investment

As travel becomes more affordable, many people are wondering about the necessity of travel insurance. According to the U.S. Travel Insurance Association, approximately 10% of Americans purchase travel insurance. But how do you determine whether it’s right for your trip? Here are a few things to consider before making the investment:

  1. It is often pretty affordable.

One compelling reason to purchase travel insurance is that it’s a pretty minor cost in comparison to the rest of your getaway. This relation is especially true if you’ll be traveling internationally and won’t be covered by your health insurer in the event of an accident or illness. Though the likelihood of losing your passport and luggage is relatively small, it’s better to have peace of mind than to end up in a foreign country with no official ID or clothes.

  1. It might be covered by your credit card.

If you’re booking in advance on your credit card, there’s a good chance that your travel is already insured. Check your card’s travel protection policy to be positive, and make sure to purchase any additional insurance you may need.

  1. It could be as easy as downloading an app to your phone.

It’s good to have your travel insurance policy on hand in the event of an emergency, but it can be difficult to keep track of forms while traveling. Thankfully, more travel insurance companies are developing apps that allow customers to access their policies directly from their smartphones. If you want to check and see if something’s covered or to extend your policy, insurers like Travel Guard and Allianz have easy apps for you to use.

  1. It is useful for both international and domestic travel.

Although vacationers more commonly purchase travel insurance for extended trips or international travel, it can also help when traveling domestically, especially when you’re booking far in advance. While it’s probably not necessary for budget flights, it might be a good idea if you’re traveling during harsh winter months when your flight could potentially get canceled. Also, misplaced baggage can derail even a short trip, and travel insurance can help you quickly replace items. In addition, traveling while sick is not only a hazard to other passengers, but the air pressure inside the cabin can exacerbate sinus issues. Travel insurance allows you the option to postpone your trip so that you can travel when you’re feeling your best.

  1. It will give you peace of mind.

There’s no denying that travel has become a more high-risk activity in recent years, especially with many of the world’s famous cities experiencing terror attacks. In addition, even the most beautiful locales experience inclement weather from time to time, including devastating hurricanes. Travel insurance not only provides a safe exit to those caught in the midst of a disaster, but it also gives the option of changing travel dates without incurring additional costs.

We never plan for our trips to go off the rails, but travel insurance can allow us to recover quickly and ensure a stress-free vacation!

5 Reasons Why Life Insurance Is a Lifesaver Around the World

Life insurance can seem like a superfluous cost, especially when you’re young and healthy, but the future is uncertain and life insurance can provide a cost-effective safety net to give you peace of mind. For those in developing countries, acquiring life insurance can help families accumulate wealth for future generations and boost the overall economy. While we hate to sound morbid, here are a few more reasons why we think life insurance is an investment worth making:

  1. Protect family and loved ones

Many people living in developing countries are working their way towards the middle class, but unexpected death can quickly deter those plans. Life insurance can provide stability so these families can successfully ascend from poverty.

Life insurance is crucial if you’re the breadwinner, as it will allow your family members to maintain their standard of living instead of struggling in the midst of unexpected circumstances. In the event of your passing, the money you have contributed to your insurance plan could go towards the costs of a nanny or housekeeper so that your remaining relatives aren’t forced to bear an undue burden.

  1. Provide more financial security

Life insurance can provide beyond the basics. For example, if the policyholder passes away, the funds could be used by the beneficiaries to start a new family business or to fund a college education. Given the unpredictable nature of life, every parent still raising children may want to consider preparing with additional coverage.

  1. Pay off debts

Life insurance not only can help with day-to-day costs, but it could also cover existing debts and recurring payments you might have, like a mortgage or car loan. It can reduce stress during the mourning process as your family makes burial and funeral arrangements, which easily can amount to thousands of dollars.

  1. Saving tool

Life insurance and annuity plans can help fund your post-retirement dreams, such as purchasing that dream home or travel in your later years. They can also help you save money on your annual taxes, with various plans offering different tax benefits. But do your homework since different plans may have vastly different implications. For example, a permanent life insurance plan covers you forever, whereas term life insurance expires after a certain period even if you’re still living.

  1. Smart investment

The financial gains of an investment towards life insurance are easy to configure with simple math. Simply deduct your eventual pay out from your current costs whenever you need to validate your decision to think ahead. While some plans can have considerable monetary costs, it’s important to weigh them against the long-term value to your loved ones.

To assist Meed members in planning for the future, we are partnering with insurance companies to provide coverage to the global Meed community as part of their financial services package. From life insurance to personal accident insurance, we believe insurance is essential for achieving financial security and piece of mind!



Disclaimer

The information in this article and the links provided are for general information only and should not be taken as constituting professional advice from the website owner – Meed. Meed is not a financial adviser. You should consider seeking independent legal, financial, taxation or other advice to check how the article information relates to your unique circumstances. Meed is not liable for any loss caused, whether due to negligence or otherwise arising from the use of, or reliance on, the information provided directly or indirectly, by use of this article.

 

5 Investing Tips for People Who Know Nothing About Investing

Yes, we’re here to share a boring article about investing tips. But we think it’s worth the three minute read!

These days, you can hardly open your browser without being confronted by a headline about making $1 million in a year or quitting your day job to travel the world. It all seems too good to be true. All our lives we’ve been taught that the keys to success are dedication and hard work, but now we’re seeing people increase their wealth with savvy investments and other passive income streams.

So the question becomes, how do they do it? And how can those with little knowledge of investing start off on their journey? To help you take that first step, we’ve compiled our favorite investing tips. While we can’t guarantee you’ll be rolling in the dough by following these investing tips, we do think they can make meaningful improvements to your financial situation!

  1. Become financially secure.

It might seem like a no-brainer, but it’s important to be honest about whether your current salary and expenses provide enough leftover income for you to invest. You should be ahead of all of your monthly bills and have several months’ worth of income saved in an emergency fund before the thought of investing crosses your mind. Once you’ve done that, you can begin to figure out your long-term financial goals and how much extra cash flow you can contribute to investments. In the meantime though, keep reading to learn about options for investing smaller amounts of money.

  1. Set financial goals.

You’ll be in a better place to decide what type of investments are right for you once you’ve determined your long-term financial goals. What is your motivation for investing? Are you trying to save for a second house, retirement, or higher education? Determining these long-term goals will help you figure out which investment options best suit your needs, and it will help you come up with a reasonable timeline for achieving your goals.

  1. Pay off any high-interest debts.

Investing can seem attractive when you’re trying to get ahead of your debts, but it’s still a risk best taken when you’re financially stable. High-interest debt can be extremely costly, so take a look at your current debt load and make a concerted effort to attack the debts with the highest interest rates.

  1. Take advantage of employee retirement options

There are several types of retirement plans, such as a 401(K) and an individual retirement account (IRA), but we’ll spare you the details for now. The first thing to know is, don’t pass up your employer’s matching program. In short, employers often contribute funds to match a percentage of what you are contributing to your retirement account, so taking advantage of these offerings at your job is a great way to build financial security. And you can leave most of the legwork to the professional investors who manage your account.

  1. Start small.

Investing can seem intimidating to those of us who are unfamiliar with it, but with advances in technology, it is becoming easier and more accessible to those of us who are just starting out. You can start off small by investing an amount that you feel comfortable with; it can be as low as $5. Apps like Acorns and Stash are great for passive, first-time investors. By linking with your bank account, you can set up recurring daily, weekly, or monthly investments, and you can boost your investments by transferring more funds at any time. Stash is less hands on and provides a portfolio of exchange-traded funds for you to select from. It’s a great option for new investors or those who want guidance on where to invest their money.

See, that wasn’t so bad was it? Now it’s time to put these investing tips into practice!

 

Disclaimer

The information in this article and the links provided are for general information only and should not be taken as constituting professional advice from the website owner – Meed. Meed is not a financial adviser. You should consider seeking independent legal, financial, taxation or other advice to check how the article information relates to your unique circumstances. Meed is not liable for any loss caused, whether due to negligence or otherwise arising from the use of, or reliance on, the information provided directly or indirectly, by use of this article.

Can Tiny Homes Put an End to Homelessness?

Can the “tiny house movement” mitigate rising homeless populations in America’s most populous cities? While homes less than 500 square feet have become a fad for lots of people looking to live more simply, shrink their environmental footprint and lessen their financial burdens, governments and social service organizations have also taken notice of its potential for rehabilitating people experiencing homelessness nationwide.

In 2001, the City of Portland, Oregon, became one of the first to turn tent encampments into semi-permanent housing with Dignity Village. The community houses up to 60 people per night and, constructed with mostly recycled and reclaimed materials, has an incredibly low environmental impact. Unlike most homeless shelters, Dignity Village gives residents the ability to decide who lives with them and couples and pets are not forced to split up. Residents can live in the village for up to two years with extensions granted to individuals working in leadership positions within the village and those taking active steps to transition out of homelessness. Dignity Village is the longest existing, continually operating, city-sanctioned tiny home village for the homeless in the United States, and many other cities are hoping to duplicate their efforts.

The Low Income Housing Institute (LIHI) is expanding Portland’s model to Washington State. Seattle currently has five tiny house sites serving over 200 people, and unlike Dignity Village which only offers porta-potties, Seattle’s tiny house villages have a central building with flush toilets. Residents struggling with substance abuse issues are not required to be sober in order to be eligible for housing, although they do have to commit to good behavior and to complete community chores. Through the Tiny Homes Initiative, LIHI has helped 106 people find gainful employment with the assistance of case managers and has reunited 34 people with family and friends.

There’s little doubt that tiny homes are an improvement over tent cities, but many question their long-term effectiveness. One reason that tiny homes are so affordable and easy to build is that they aren’t held to the same standards as typical dwelling units categorized under the International Building Code. Most lack electricity and running water, and some worry that they will eventually turn into shantytowns. Barbara Poppe, who coordinated federal homelessness policy for most of Barack Obama’s presidency, believes that such basic accommodations further stigmatize the homeless and that related funding should be used to develop permanent affordable housing instead. Advocates for tiny home villages argue that such housing is still preferable to sleeping on the streets, and offers more privacy than typical shelters.

Tiny homes emerged out of necessity as a temporary solution to a dire problem, but their long-term impact on reducing homelessness remains to be seen. Although tiny homes might seem modest to some, to others they represent a much-needed second chance.

What do you think?

Family Finances: Aussie Insights from The Fiscal Mum

While marriage and kids offer many priceless benefits, having to deal with family finances is probably not one of them. Making and managing money as a single person was hard enough!

Navigating your financial relationship with your significant other can be stressful. Then throw kids into the mix, and it’s no wonder 15% of Gen Xers (35-54) and 36% of Millennials (18-34) argue about finances every week. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

Through the internet and social media today, money experts use colorful, engaging methods to deliver financial education right to the palm of our hands. Rebecca Maher, aka The Fiscal Mum, is one such financial expert based in Australia who specializes in helping people manage their family finances.

Rebecca Maher, The Fiscal MumRebecca’s first experience working as a financial planner left her disenchanted. She felt the industry’s prime motivation was closing the sale rather than understanding the real needs of the client. She felt that most financial advisory services only had a handful of cookie-cutter products they were trying to push on people—primarily high net worth individuals and retirees who already had accumulated money and assets. The industry was neglecting people who needed guidance most. So she jumped ship to pursue other opportunities.

However, Rebecca’s perspective changed when she started having kids. Surrounded by other new “mums,” she recognized a glaring need for financial advice among those whom the traditional financial planning industry was neglecting. Although Rebecca’s first impression of the industry had been negative, she felt compelled to give it another shot, albeit on her terms.

Becoming The Fiscal Mum

With a formal education in business studies and international finance, one might assume Rebecca had launched her financial planning business with ease. But she reminds us that business finance is vastly different from personal finance. She says much of her personal finance knowledge is either self-taught or from lessons learned from her father. Australia’s government and not-for-profit organizations have some initiatives to advance financial literacy in school settings, but they’re mostly ad hoc rather than part of a formalized curriculum.

Through her father’s fiscal responsibility, Rebecca learned that when used properly, money is a tool that can help you live the life you want. Rebecca thinks many people resist seeking out financial advice because they believe planning for the future means making serious sacrifices today. Rebecca’s goal is to help families balance these two competing interests.

In her work with mothers (and couples), Rebecca finds that increasingly women are seeking the empowerment that comes from financial literacy and informed decision-making when it comes to family finances. They don’t want to rely solely on a spouse. She thinks the “mompreneur” trend with mothers starting their own businesses has become so popular because women seek the validation that comes from contributing to household income. Otherwise, many women report feeling inferior and that they don’t have the right to a say in household financial decision-making.

However, Rebecca emphasizes to her clients that properly managing family finances is just as important for creating and maintaining wealth as the number of dollars that their spouses or themselves bring through the front door. We’re socialized to keep chasing more money and the status that comes from having it. But the vital importance of backend monitoring is often left out of the conversation.

Introducing Responsible Money Concepts to Your Kids

Although her two daughters are still youngone is a toddler and the other an infantRebecca already is planning how she’ll impart financial wisdom to them. For young children, Rebecca encourages taking advantage of “teachable moments.” When you’re in the supermarket, for example, you can introduce the concept of budgeting by telling your kids about the price of items in your shopping cart.

Then as Rebecca’s kids get older and start earning money with their first jobs, she plans to sit them down more formerly to discuss budgeting, saving, opportunity cost, etc. Also, she plans to teach them about investing through the small investment portfolios that she’s already started for them. Rather than teaching her kids using theoretical money, she believes her lessons will be much more engaging and impactful using their own money!

With one of the highest levels of household debt in the world relative to GDP, Australia has a lot of families in need of financial assistance who can’t afford traditional financial advisors. Non-for-profit organizations and government programs exist, but many are overburdened and under-resourced. And the situation is similar in many other countries. But fortunately, people like Rebecca are out there helping people who need it most, including her own children.

Thank you to Rebecca and everyone else around the world working so hard to advance financial literacy and security in your communities!


Learn more from The Fiscal Mum:

7 Ways to Live Affordably in an Unaffordable City

With financial experts suggesting that San Francisco residents need to earn six-figure incomes to live affordably in the city, it’s become clear that America’s growing cities are becoming less affordable, particularly for the millennials who seem to favor them.

For those who want the big city experience without the financial strain, here are a few ways to make it possible to live affordably in an unaffordable city:

  1. Get roommates

One of the easiest ways to cut your cost of living is to share your rent. A SmartAsset analysis found that in some cities, a renter who shares a two-bedroom apartment with a roommate saves more than $800 a month compared to someone who lives in a one-bedroom alone. You’re not just cutting back on the cost of rent though, you’ll also be able to split utility costs, which between internet, energy and water, can eat up more than 20 percent of your after-tax income according to the ACCCE.

Find someone you’re comfortable living with and cash in on these savings. In cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York, you might need more roommates to make the rent reasonable.

  1. Secure a long lease

If you find an apartment or a home that you love at a reasonable cost, do whatever you can to lock that price in for as long as possible. Apartment managers like long-term tenants and might find the idea of an 18-month or even 24-month lease attractive. It will also ensure that your rent doesn’t go up for the duration of your lease.

  1. Move when the rental market is less competitive

The rental market slows during the holidays, especially in places that experience cold weather that is not conducive to moving, like New York City. According to a study from RentHop, rents in New York City are lowest in December and January and peak during the summer. The difference is roughly 4.5 percent for a one-bedroom apartment, or about $140 a month. If you can’t avoid moving during the summer months, avoid areas near colleges and universities that are popular for students.

  1. Cut miscellaneous costs

It’s not just the rents that make city living so expensive. Cost of living also trickles down to transportation, groceries, fitness and other discretionary spending. One way to cut back on these costs is to take advantage of public transportation, walking and biking whenever possible. If those options aren’t feasible, try the carpool options available through Uber or Lyft and avoiding ordering a car during prime time hours. Also, host dinners instead of going out to eat and plan your meals ahead of time to avoid impulsive food buys.

  1. Purge your closet

Take the time to purge your closet at least once a season. It will help you stay organized and reduce clutter in your home, and you can also make some easy cash on the side. Sell whatever you’re willing to part with to a local consignment store or list your clothes on apps like Poshmark. Consignment stores tend to favor trendy clothes that are in season, so be strategic about what you sell.

  1. Take advantage of free events

Rent in major metro areas might be expensive, but going out doesn’t have to be. Live affordably and fully by finding free or cheap events on websites like DoStuff Media, Meetup and Eventbrite. Most cities have free outdoor movies and concerts during the summer and most museums offer free entry a few days a month. With a little bit of research and planning ahead, you can maintain your vibrant social life without hitting your wallet too hard.

  1. Settle in the suburbs

Another way to live affordably in a big city is to settle in a nearby suburb. You’ll still be close enough to enjoy most of the benefits of the city, but for a fraction of the cost. Studies show that millennials tend to prioritize work-life balance, which can be difficult to achieve when you’re busy hustling in the big city. Living in the suburbs can free up time and money that could be spent on outings with friends, travel or even an eventual down payment on a home.

5 Simple Tips for Healthy Eating on a Budget

Believe it or not, healthy eating on a budget is possible! Check out these tips for whipping your beach body into shape for summer vacation and beyond!

  1. Plan your meals

One tip for healthy eating on a budget is to plan meals in advance, which will help you curb food spending and stick to your diet. Set aside a few hours once or twice a week to pre-cook and package your meals.  You’ll be a lot less tempted to buy food on the go or accept a last minute dinner invitation when you’ve got ready-made meals in your refrigerator. Check out this 31-day healthy meal plan to help get you started. Don’t forget to bring some nonperishable, in-between meal snacks to keep you on track while you’re out and about.

  1. Stay hydrated

Drinking plenty of water (most experts recommend you drink about half of your body weight in ounces of water per day) is not only the key to great skin, boosted energy and countless other benefits, but it can also prevent you from mistaking your thirst for hunger and eating unnecessarily. Make sure you’re drinking plenty of water in between meal times and try cutting back on high-fat and high-sugar foods so that you can better distinguish your thirst. Try spacing your meal times every 3-4 hours and if you get hungry within that time, drink a glass of water and wait 15 minutes to see if the hunger passes.

  1. Share meals at restaurants

Many of us assume that we’ll have to sacrifice eating out when we become more conscious of our eating habits, but really we just have to make an extra effort to moderate our eating. Restaurants are notorious for creating too-large portions, and it can be tempting to eat all of the food in front of you, even after you’re full. One way to avoid overeating at restaurants is to make sure you don’t arrive at dinner too hungry. We often overestimate our hunger and order too much food and then feel bad about wasting it. So we stuff ourselves instead. Eat a handful of nuts or munch on some fruit before your dinner date so you can approach the menu with a clear head. Control your portions by offering to share appetizers or an entrée. You can also ask the waitstaff for a to-go box with your food and box some of it right away so you’re not tempted to eat everything.

  1. Cut back on sugary drinks and alcohol

Despite studies that claim a glass of red wine is equivalent to an hour in the gym, you’ll see more results when you cut alcohol and soda out of your diet altogether, especially if you’re a regular drinker. The benefits don’t stop there though. You’ll also be more alert, have more energy and sleep better. You’ll also save money by avoiding long bar tabs. Try ordering a sparkling water with lime in between drinks so that you won’t be so tempted to over-imbibe.

  1. Use technology to hold you accountable

Maybe you lead a busy lifestyle, and it’s difficult to count calories on the go or keep track of what you ate and when. Thankfully, plenty of technology has been invented to help you stay accountable to your fitness goals. There are wearable devices like FitBit, which counts your daily steps and reminds you to be active throughout the day. There are also apps like MyFitnessPal which help monitor your calorie intake and exercise regime. If you’re feeling overwhelmed about changing your lifestyle on your own, check out these options to help you get started.

Now that you have some tips for healthy eating on a budget, don’t forget the counterpart to a healthy diet—exercise!

What It Means to Be a Socially Conscious Consumer

The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any. – Alice Walker

Terms like socially conscious, social enterprise and eco-friendly get thrown around a lot. But what do they actually mean? And does it really matter if we buy products and support companies that label themselves as such?

To shed light on this topic, I chatted with Jamie Kopp, a passionate social justice advocate who works at a nonprofit organization in Vancouver that provides settlement services to immigrants and refugees.

For Jamie, being a socially conscious consumer means living with intentionality and realizing that the purchasing decisions we make everyday impact the world, for better or for worse. These decisions include everything from where we shop, to where we bank, to the food we eat, to the financial investments we make, to how and where we travel. And so on.

Why Being a Socially Conscious Consumer Is Good for the World

You’ve probably heard stories of destitute workers, including young children, earning meager wages while working in deplorable conditions. Governments in their respective countries may be unstable, with minimal enforcement of labor or environmental laws.

These workers are left vulnerable to exploitation by unscrupulous foreign employers looking to cut production expenses by paying lower wages and avoiding the environmental regulations that these companies face in their home countries.

Unfavorable and downright unethical business practices take many other forms too. For example, opening fake customer bank accounts, discriminating against certain races or genders in the hiring process and using harmful ingredients.

But fortunately, no matter what issues you care about most, you can impact them meaningfully through your spending power. “Money talks” is not a meaningless cliché. Where you put your dollars, or whatever your currency is, matters!

Withholding your money from companies whose business practices you don’t support is a direct cut to their sales, and ultimately to their bottom line. And while our individual decisions are powerful, Jamie challenges us to encourage our peers too. Think about how we can multiply the impact when others follow our lead!

How to Be a Socially Conscious Consumer

Inevitably you’re thinking, “Okay that sounds nice. But products that come from ‘socially conscious’ companies are way more expensive.” In some cases, that may be true. But Jamie says oftentimes it’s simply a matter of analyzing price vs. value.

Think about those $100 name-brand shoes you bought. Did the manufacturing company pay workers fair wages? Were the shoes sourced from sustainable materials? If not, look into shoes that are manufactured with social good in mind. The price actually may be similar to your name-brand shoes. In one case you’re paying for the brand name and in the other you’re paying to support vulnerable communities and the conservation of the earth.

And it’s inspiring to see that more and more often, you can get the best of both worlds! Considering 91% of millennials say they’ll switch brands to benefit a cause they believe in, our consumer demands are forcing popular name-brand companies to modify their business practices.

If you’re more in the $30 shoe range though, then yes, some socially conscious products may be significantly more expensive. In those cases, look for quality second hand and consignment shops. If nothing else, you can help recycle items that otherwise might end up in a landfill.

Or DIY! For instance, grow your own herbs or make your own soap. You can source eco-friendly, organic (no chemicals) ingredients yourself at lower cost than buying these products in the store.

How to Find Socially Conscious Companies

Use the internet and social media hashtags to search for brands using terms like “triple bottom line,” “B corporation,” “social enterprise,” “social good,” “socially conscious,” “eco-friendly,” “fair trade,” “social impact,” “social responsibility” and “sustainability.”

You’ll quickly find lots of businesses doing amazing things to make a positive difference in the world, both locally and globally. And hopefully some are brands you already patronize!

But how can you tell if companies are for real? In whatever way they claim to contribute to social good—whether it’s intrinsic to their mission, through one-off campaigns, or through a corporate social responsibility arm—Jamie says it should be transparent, clear and specific on their website or social media.

Ask brands publicly on social media about their business practices and contribution to social good. (Don’t forget the power of social media to call out brands on their unethical practices too!). Also, ask friends and your social media network for socially conscious brand recommendations.

Jamie encourages shopping at small businesses and farmers’ markets in your neighborhood too. In addition to supporting your local economy, buying local gives you much greater line of sight to business practices versus shopping at stores owned by huge corporations.

Final Thoughts

Of course, you have to pick your battles. Not every product you consume will contribute to social good. You also might discover a brand you thought supported an issue that’s important to you really doesn’t. And sometimes it’s hard to cut through the fancy marketing to find the truth. Nevertheless, making one socially conscious choice is better than nothing!

Also, Jamie urges us to instill a socially conscious mindset in children by teaching them how to be passionate advocates for social good. Additionally, she would love to see regulation requiring companies to disclose more information about their business practices.

If you haven’t already, start getting familiar with unfamiliar socially conscious brands, and reconsider trusting the trusted name-brand products that may be harming you, the people you care about, and the entire world we live in!


Want to learn more from Jamie? Follow her on Instagram: @jayjay_world1