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Greening Your Investment Portfolio

Whatever your investment status, you have an increasing number of green choices for your money, or at least choices that are greener than they once were. In fact, the Social Investment Forum reports that almost 10 percent of investment dollars in the United States is invested in socially responsible financial products.

The most important thing to keep in mind when it comes to investing is that you may not be able to find an investment that’s environmentally or socially perfect for you. Be prepared to make compromises if it comes down to that, and you shouldn’t forget that it’s perfectly acceptable to make money to protect your own financial health.

When it comes to green investing, you have myriad options, including buying stocks, buying shares in mutual funds, investing in your pension fund, and investing in life insurance. In short, your two main options are

  • Invest directly in companies by buying their shares, either setting yourself up with your own trading account and buying the shares yourself or buying through a stockbroker or financial advisor.

  • Invest indirectly in a number of companies at the same time by buying shares of a mutual fund. (Mutual funds work by pooling together the money from many different investors and putting it toward shares in a number of different companies — the advantages are that you don’t need a lot of money to invest in most mutual funds, and they can be easier to access than buying individual stocks.)

When it comes to investing your money responsibly, it’s essential to obtain advice from a knowledgeable, qualified financial advisor, preferably one who specializes in socially responsible, ethical, or green investments. Specialist advisors offer all the services of a mainstream adviser but also can advise you on aligning your financial plans with your values and beliefs. If you’re investing in stocks, working with a stockbroker who understands the ethical markets is particularly crucial.

To find a financial planner in your area who can advise you on green investments, search the online directories at the Social Investment Forum or Co-op America. Also keep your eyes open for the abbreviation SRI — that's Socially Responsible Investing.

Investments outside of Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) protection can gain and, more importantly, lose value. The FDIC covers deposits at insured banks up to $100,000. It doesn’t cover money invested in stocks, bonds, mutual funds, life insurance policies, annuities, or municipal securities.

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