Saving Green While Going Green
NOAH ADAMS, host:
The color green could be cash. Of course, it also means the environment these days. So let's put green and green together and come up with Michelle Singletary. Hi, Michelle.
MICHELLE SINGLETARY: Hi.
ADAMS: Michelle is DAY TO DAY's personal finance contributor. So the deal is, Michelle, we want to save money, we want to be good environmental citizens. What should we be paying attention to?
SINGLETARY: If you are interested in having less of an impact on the environment, you can find green mutual funds. There are mutual funds that will invest in companies whose business it is to protect the environment or they invest in companies that have taken steps to minimize their environmental impact.
ADAMS: Any cost? Any sort of penalty you have to pay because you do have some conscience here?
SINGLETARY: Not necessarily. Listen. When you invest in a green mutual fund, you ought to approach it the same way as you do any other mutual fund. You want to look at the returns over the past several years, although obviously past returns don't necessarily dictate what they're going to do in the future. But it is a good indicator.
You want to look at fees. You want to make sure you're investing enough mutual fund company that doesn't have a lot of fees. Now, here's the thing. It is a sector, so you want to be careful and recognize that you don't want to put all your money in one particular sector. So you still want to be diversified but I think it is a good idea if this is important to you, that you include it as part of your overall portfolio.
ADAMS: You know what bothers me, is that stuff you got simply because you are doing business by mail or you're sending your bills out and you're on somebody's list and you get all the stuff that you just got to pitch out.
SINGLETARY: That's right. One of the best ways to reduce paper is to stop writing so many checks and go online and bank. And in fact, it is a good way to save money. You're saving on stamps, which just went up this past spring, and you're reducing the amount of paper that is sent out. You know, the average American household sends or receives about 20 bill statements or checks per month. And that adds up to 771,000 tons of paper nationwide. Oftentimes there's a little checkbox where they say can we send you additional offers? Be sure to uncheck that and you reduce the amount of paper that you get. And another way to do that is to opt out of all those credit card offers. And you can go online and do that at optoutprescreen.com, and there's also a toll free number at 888-567-8688.
ADAMS: Okay. A final tip, and make this one a real practical winner.
SINGLETARY: Stop throwing things away. It's amazing how much residents, businesses and institutions produce in the way of trash. More than 245 million tons of solid waste, according to the EPA. So one way to reduce that waste is to have a garage sale. You can save the planet and make some money.
ADAMS: Green advice from DAY TO DAY's personal finance contributor Michelle Singletary. Thank you, Michelle.
SINGLETARY: You're welcome.
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