Putting Money Where Your Values Are

Picture: By Webmasterfonds – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17446730


Ceci est un texte en anglais que je pensais utiliser pour le zine Razorcake, mais j’ai réfléchi et je trouvais que ce n’était pas assez punk (c’est en partie de la finance canadienne) et que cela n’intéresserait pas l’auditoire habituel. Cela fait longtemps qu’il a été écrit. Enjoy!


I don’t hide it, I’m a punk with a well-paying job. Not all punks have good jobs. I feel lucky about that. However, with money comes responsibility. I could waste it as I did when I was young, living decadently and getting drunk. Since my early forties, I realized that money can be used for worthwhile causes that reflect our values. I started thinking about the “live fast die young” motto, and how it’s not necessarily great if you live longer. I started putting money away for my retirement at age 45. I realized that if I want to have a good quality of life when I’m older, I need money. Fortunately, I started working at a unionized job with a pension plan in 2021, which will help me make up for my lack of savings.

I also realized that the government is not elected to help the poor. As a young person, I believed that it was the role of the government to intervene and help those who lacked resources. My views have since changed. Although I live in one of the most generous welfare states in North America, it does not solve all the problems associated with poverty. In fact, there is less inequality in Québec than in other provinces, but some people still need help. 

I have enough money that inflation didn’t affect my habits. I cut back on eating out, even though they cost a fortune, because I’m on a diet. This made me think of those living near the poverty line and below. It must be difficult to get by. Over the course of two years, I began donating regularly to organizations that help people in need. I’m not claiming any kind of special status: after all, charitable donations are tax-deductible when you file your taxes each year. I don’t know the limit, but I will find out when I fill my taxes next year.

Often these organizations are led by religious people or are old religious institutions that have adapted over time. I’m an atheist person and I didn’t feel any pressure to convert. One organization sends me a summary of its activities every three months. Reading these reports makes me aware of the importance of my small donation in improving the lives of impoverished people.This year, I started donating to Dans La Rue to help homeless youth in Montréal. Many of the young street punks using the service have experienced difficult periods in their lives, and do not any other place to stay I had many past and current friends who used this service.I hope that I made a small difference for these homeless punks.

I also try to support companies that share some of my values. Whether they are environmental, economics or any other that corresponds to my belief. One software developer behind an app I used sent me an email in which he started praising Elon Musk. However, Musk and I are not on the same page when it comes to our values. I do not like him at all. He has the right to express his opinion, and I have the right to choose not to support him. I fully support free speech, but I think the political content in an application update email was too much for me. If he hadn’t sent it,I wouldn’t have known his views on Musk. As a result, I decided to uninstall his software and install alternatives instead. Unfortunately, none of them were as comprehensive as his, si I had to pick two. One of the developers shares my values, which I learned from their Mastodon post. The other application, I have no idea. I just hope the authors won’t surprise me like the author of my previous software. I had to pay a bit more than I expected to keep my software aligned with my values, and the new software is not available in French. Even if I understand English very well, I prefer my software in French.

Most of my savings are in RRSPs (Registered Retirement Savings Plans). These are accounts that allow you to save for retirement, but the money inside them is taxed when you withdraw it. You get a tax refund for contributions made in the same year. This is similar to an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) in the United States. I do not know whether there is a comparable program in other countries. A portion of my RRSP is invested in funds knows as Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) funds. I’m not sure if this is greenwashing or not, but I started investing in two funds to see how it goes. I need to do more research on them to determine whether they are cases of greenwashing. I will have to contact the bank for more information about their SRI; none of the information is available on their websites. This is not a good sign.The fees are a little higher than the normal one. Since they are new funds, there is not much of historical data available. If this is not a case of greenwashing, I’m considering moving some of my investments from the standard one to the SRI one. However, I hope that this will not be the same as the normal one , which has only higher fees. It is important to me that my money goes towards green technologies,not fossil fuels.

My largest RRSP is in fonds d’investissement FTQ. It is a union investment found to stimulate the Québec economy. FTQ is the fédération des travailleurs et travailleuses du Québec is a union that my union is affiliated with. 

It’s great to use money in alignments with your values. As I get older and make more money, this becomes increasingly important to me.I don’t want to waste money on unnecessary things; instead, I want to spend it on companies that share my values. This is difficult when many products aren’t socially acceptable, but I do my best. Of course, I use computers, smartphones and other electronic devices that are not socially responsible. However, there are no socially acceptable alternatives. A case about open source software could be made. Currently I used closed-source software.


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