November 1, 2021
Every day, we make decisions about the health of our planet.
Some are conscious and some are unconscious. Have you ever thought about how you manage your finances and the impact that has on whether you’re “going green” or not? You may not think that the decisions you make will have much of an impact, but when you group them together with other customers of the financial institutions you work with, the impact can be significant. Here are a few of the ways you can help the environment with your banking decisions.
Stop receiving paper statements for everything.
Depending on the number of accounts you have, this could add up to a lot of paper coming to your house. Most financial institutions offer electronic statements or E-Statements, for free and have begun charging modest fees ( $2-5 ) if you want to receive paper statements. You can view your statements online and the bank even keeps previous months statements for a period of time.
If you’re one of those folks who just has to have a physical copy of your statement for your files, download it and keep it on your computer. Then, you can review it whenever you need and don’t have to worry about whether or not you can access it online.
There are a few ways to do this, and it really depends on your preferences. If you prefer to use a one-stop experience to pay your bills, enroll in Bill Pay. You set up a payee once, type the payment information in each month, and the bank pays the item electronically or with a check. You can also visit each payee’s website and pay your bill there. You may have a few sites to visit, but it also gives you an opportunity to receive notifications, and see if they need any additional information from you. Setting automatic payments is also an option if you don’t want to visit the payee’s site each month. You authorize them to automatically debit your account each month on a specific day, and you only need to verify the payment when you look at your transaction history online.
Stay away from the other paper, too.
When paying with a card, don’t get a receipt; opt to receive an email or text message with the information. What do you do with the receipts anyway, verify each one against your statement when you receive it? If you switch to E-Statements, you can switch to E-Receipts at the same time.
Reduce your carbon footprint.
While there are certain times you need to speak with a banker, the vast majority of the tasks associated with banking can be completed using technology. You can make deposits from your phone, verify transactions, receive alerts for payments or deposits, open accounts, apply for loans, you get the idea. So, there’s no reason to get in the car and drive to the bank.
Why write a check?
There are a number of automated solutions that allow you to reimburse friends and pay other individuals you owe money to right from your phone. Right after Hurricane Ida, when I was still out of town, I had folks cutting down trees and putting temporary fixes on my roof from 350 miles away. This has a ripple effect since the people you’re paying deposit the money in their accounts electronically as well.
This list could go on and on, but you get the idea. In many cases, going green with your banking can be more secure. No statements in your mailbox, no check books to keep track of, etc. The trick is to decide how you want to bank, how green you want to be, and what level of security you are comfortable with and go with it.
Robert Baer is a Vice President at Fidelity Bank. He coordinates Fidelity’s Financial Literacy initiative.