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You don’t have to compromise your values to build wealth. When invested wisely, your dollars can grow your wealth while at the same time improving the world around you. This is the concept behind impact investing, a type of investment that strives to create a positive social and environmental impact.
In this “Financially Savvy Female” column, we’re chatting with Eva Yazhari, impact investor, author of “The Good Your Money Can Do” and general manager of Beyond Capital Ventures, a women-led impact venture capital firm, about the three steps women can take to build wealth while staying true to their values.
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1. Start Early
“The most important piece is just getting into the game,” Yazhari said. “That’s what it’s about when starting early. It’s gaining access to the keys of investing.”
Once you get your feet wet with investing, you can begin to line up your money and your values. Doing so not only “feels good,” as Yazhari points out, but it also takes away some of the stigmas that we typically associate with money and wealth.
“It’s something you can talk to your community about without it being a vulgar topic or be within the realm of taboo topics that we stay away from at dinner parties,” she said. “It’s something you can teach your children — that earning money as an investor is about more than just making more money, it’s about having an impact. And that’s why I think starting early is so important, because it gets women in the game.”
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2. Know Your Purpose
Once you’re ready to become a “conscious investor,” as Yazhari calls it, it’s time to really define what your values are.
“I would take a step back before getting a foot in the door,” Yazhari said. “It’s important, with any situation with investing, to know what you want to achieve, to know what your financial goals are and to know what your impact goals are. And the same goes with defining your values and knowing what areas you want to focus on. For me, it’s gender equality, it’s racial equity and it’s the climate emergency. I did a lot of deep dives and awareness building and defining what those values are.”
After you’ve figured out what you want to achieve, it’s time to decide how you will start using your money to make an impact.
3. Start Small
“The next step is figuring out what tools to use in your toolbox,” Yazhari said. “Everybody has some form of wealth, and that could literally just be a banking relationship. This is the lowest-hanging fruit. A large institution typically is not really screening its borrowers for any sort of ESG [environmental, social and governance] criteria. Having your money at a bank [that aligns with your values] has an impact.”
You can also take a look at what’s in your 401(k) plan and see if your provider offers sustainable investment options.
If you’re ready to take the next step, seek out companies to invest in that are making an impact on environmental, social and governance causes that you care about.
“The greatest thing about impact investing is that once you put your money in, your money is at work towards your mission,” Yazhari said. “Even $50 or $100 matters. And there are platforms, like Ellevest, that offer a product that is screening out areas that women would not want to be invested in, and that’s a good stepping stone to building a larger portfolio. Then, you can maybe invest in a private company or a private fund or your friend’s social enterprise.”
Another way to ensure your dollars make an impact is to be more mindful about where you spend your money.
“There’s the element of using your consumer choices as a means to express your values,” Yazhari said. “Sometimes that leads to learning about a company that’s raising money and then investing in that company. So it’s another way to think about the tools that are available to us as investors and as conscious investors. It’s not just our investment portfolios or private banking relationships. It goes much beyond that.”
GOBankingRates wants to empower women to take control of their finances. According to the latest stats, women hold $72 billion in private wealth — but fewer women than men consider themselves to be in “good” or “excellent” financial shape. Women are less likely to be investing and are more likely to have debt, and women are still being paid less than men overall. Our “Financially Savvy Female” column will explore the reasons behind these inequities and provide solutions to change them. We believe financial equality begins with financial literacy, so we’re providing tools and tips for women, by women to take control of their money and help them live a richer life.
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