Green Investing or Investing in Green – How to Invest in an Environmental IRA

For an increasing number of investors, “doing good” with their investments is as important as doing well. Tapping into this new environmentally conscious market, more not-for-profit organizations are teaming up with money managers to create a new line of impact investments. Here are some examples:
 Green Century Funds at [[|Green Century Funds]];
 Aquinas Funds at [[|Aquinas Funds]]; and
 Calvert at [[|Calvert]]
Caution: before you pick any, use a resource to evaluate and compare, such as Kiplinger’s Finance at [[|Kiplinger’s Finance on investing]].
While there is no “green IRA”, you can pick a mutual fund, such as the ones mentioned above, or select stocks yourself in within your IRA or Roth IRA – for more, see [[|Financial literacy millennials received poor marks but they can fix that]] That is, when you contribute cash to your IRA, it sits in a money market account, doing little until you invest it. If you want to invest in environmentally conscious companies, you can, as follows:

1. Select type of IRA: Before opening and IRA, decide whether a Roth IRA or a traditional IRA suits your needs (see the Financial Literacy post).
2. Open an IRA: Opening an IRA has never been easier. You can contact a financial institution, by phone or online, that offers IRAs, usually a bank, brokerage or mutual fund company. Do your research and be sure the broker offers a self-directed IRA, so you can pick your investment options. Also, be mindful of fees charged for trades, that is the buying and selling of stocks or funds. You want a discount broker. Finally, name beneficiaries in case something happens to you.
3. Choose your Investments: Your IRA can be made of stocks, mutual funds or a mixture. In choosing stocks, experts such as Jennifer Schonberger of The Motley Fool, suggest that you focus on particular countries as you make green stock or mutual fund selections for your IRA. She notes that China is an innovator in green technology, though it is also known as one of the world’s biggest polluters.
4. Fund your Account: Make a plan to fund your account and stick to it! Starting early and contributing regularly can have an enormous impact your account’s value due to tax-free compounding of returns (see “Save 10% of Income” at [[Financial literacy millennials received poor marks but they can fix that|Savec 10% of Income]] )

As with any stock market investing, your Green IRA may show you a roller coaster ride of value swings; however, if you have a long-term horizon, the significant growth potential should out-weigh this volatility risk. Also, if you pick a loser, you can always sell your investment (tax-free) and invest in another. Good luck!

P.S. – you can always decide to invest well, this is both easier and yields better returns, and then donate to environmental groups.

Make customer service calls work for you – Get them on your side

Your goal on these calls is to convert the customer service rep to your side so that their goal is to make you happy. Most people in customer service are there because they want to please others; you want tap into that bent.
Here are some easy tips:
1. Be Respectful: Make them feel important and validated. Ask them their name, if they did not give it, and use that in the conversation.
2. Show Gratitude: thank them.
3. Recruit Them: Use terms like “we” and clearly state your objective so you turn the call into a mission, with the representative committed to helping you accomplish it.
4. Remain Calm: Avoid trigger words, anger and any swearing. Otherwise you risk losing the bond you created. Maintain the position of being empowered to get what you, as the customer, deserve.
5. Communicate Your Determination: Be clear that you are not going anywhere until your mission is accomplished. Be clear that you are not taking any brush off.
6. Escalate: If you are not making progress, then escalate: ask to speak to a manager. Many representatives are judged by the number of calls referred to managers or supervisors, so asking may prompt them to be more helpful.
This approach may take practice (and patience). However, it is quite effective, so you are likely to see good results.