Money Conversations: What Does Investing Mean to You?
At first glance, it may seem that this article will focus on the financial aspect of investments. After all, that is the whole point: invest money to make money. Yet, how many ever give it a second, deeper thought to what investments really mean beyond making a profit?
Here are some standard answers to this question: security in case an unexpected situation arises, ability to retire without changing lifestyle… here is my favorite: peace of mind. Peace! Let’s focus on this word. Most investors do not even know what type of stocks their portfolios contain or where their money goes. They entrust their money to the professionals without ever specifying what exactly they want to invest in. The main concern is to make a return. Is your portfolio aligned with your moral and ethical convictions?
There are individuals that would not set foot into a gambling establishment, yet are completely unaware that they have interest in casino industry. There are individuals who swear by pacifism, yet, sponsor warfare through their investments; march to oppose the 2nd amendment while purchasing stocks from companies that produce arms; preach healthy lifestyle while co-owning junk food companies; recycle vigorously to save the planet while supporting companies with practices harmful to the environment. The list can go on and on. In this scenario the energy they spend on fixing something might sum up to zero by those counter-investments. Perhaps, this happens unwillingly through lack of awareness. It all just comes down to mindfulness, really. So, in this article I would urge you, dear reader, to have a talk with your financial advisor and share your moral convictions. Outline the types of industries you would absolutely not support. Take a look at your portfolio and make sure to eliminate any investments that do not align with your beliefs and transfer them into something that would make an impact in the area that will make a good impact. This might take an extra effort on your behalf by having to do some homework. You might have to dig into the practices of the companies whose stock you buy, research the types of industries your mutual funds shares include, etc. That might also mean that you would not yield the same % return as before, but would not that be worth having clear consciousness?
Now, I will turn the heat up by a notch and ask you this: would you be willing to make an investment that does not bear any financial profit? What if the dividends are paid in the form of knowing you did the right thing, provided food for the starving, shelter for the roofless, medication for the ill? My point here is to convince you to see donations as another form of investment. Because when you donate, you invest into a better future for others, and will ultimately find yourself living in a better world.
If the above two paragraphs seem to lack any connection, here is my explanation: if you are donating money to the victims of war, I suggest you also reconsider investing money into something that possibly helped to create the war in the first place. If you are donating money to an environment protection organization, double check to make sure you don’t invest into something that ruins ecology.
We all want to live in a good place, but that may mean that we have to burst the bubble we are stuck in and accept that we cannot build our well-being at expense of others. So, instead of focusing on our own selfish peace of mind, think about peace and well-being in general, for everyone, and how we contribute to sustaining it. We need to practice mindfulness because each action, each decision we make in our daily lives, no matter how seemingly small, might lead to consequences for others that are beyond our control or even comprehension.
This article is not meant to give you financial advice or urge you to invest or withdraw funds from any particular company or sector, rather to get you to look at this matter from a different perspective, decide what is right for you, and whether your personal values are in line with your financial objectives. Remember, we are all in the same boat, so in the stormy ocean of life it’s better to help anchor the vessel rather than rock it.