Did you know that your decision about which breakfast cereal to buy can change the world?
Or that when you buy dish soap and laundry detergent at your local store, you may be a funding a politician, party, or cause that you morally oppose? It’s not just cleaning products and carbohydrates, either. Companies of all kinds put the money you spend on their products toward the causes they support. Thanks to technology, it is now possible to ensure that the money you spend on everyday purchases goes toward the causes and political parties you support instead.
Want more control over how your money flows to Washington? Here are a few steps to help you consciously vote with your dollars this year. You have the power to change the world, one grocery store trip at a time. Check out these apps to make more informed decisions about your everyday spending:
Buycott App. This app, available for both iPhone and Android, uses the phone’s camera to scan the barcodes of the products you buy. With that barcode, the app can tell you two important pieces of information — what companies produce that product and what causes the companies support. Using data collected from company websites and social media, Buycott shows you what politics those companies support. By joining a crowd-sourced campaign on the app, you can make choices about which products to buy. For example, there are campaigns that help you avoid — or support — Koch Industries, and ones that push for stricter gun control laws versus others that support the Second Amendment. There’s a wide variety of campaigns to choose from, so do some searching and find ones that you are passionate about!
BuyPartisan App. This app, also available on Androids and iPhones, is similar to Buycott, but focuses more on the political spending of the companies that make the products you want to buy. When you scan a barcode with this app, you can look at where the political donations made by the company’s CEO, board of directors, and PACs went. The app even pulls data that allows you to see where the directors are spending their money. Don’t like what you see? Compare those results with other companies’ and find one whose spending meshes more with your own values.
GreenHouse Browser Extension. This free browser extension for Chrome, Safari, and Firefox exposes the role money plays in Congress and helps keep you informed about key election races. The extension shows you detailed campaign contribution data for every U.S. senator and representative, including the total amount received and the breakdown by industry and size of donation. The extension’s creator is passionate about making money’s role in politics transparent for the people, so use it to discover who is really financing those sponsors for bills that are meaningful to you.
If you’re looking for even more ways to back your political beliefs with your money, here are some options for creating investment and retirement accounts that support your values:
Vanguard Social Index Fund Investor Shares. Vanguard offers this special index fund to help socially conscious investors buy stocks that meet certain social, human rights, and environmental criteria. You can feel secure knowing that your money is being invested in ethical companies that share your values. As with any investment, there are risks involved, so make sure you’ve done your research if you make the leap.
Motif Investing. Motif allows investors greater flexibility when choosing stocks to support. You can choose from professionally built portfolios that center on one — you guessed it — motif! Can’t find one you like? You also have the option to customize your portfolio — deleting or adding stocks, or even designing your own based on your personal values.
Ellevest. This investment platform launches this year. Created by Sallie Krawcheck, Ellevest is designed specifically to give women an investing experience to suit their needs. They also offer resources to help guide women through financial decisions that are important to them.
WorthFM. Coming soon from DailyWorth’s own Amanda Steinberg is an investment platform created to engage and educate women on investing and saving. Be sure to watch for updates on when it officially launches! I personally plan on being an early adopter of this one.
The mayhem of election years can sometimes be disheartening, making you feel unheard in the political system. But using tools like these is a great way to regain the confidence that you can effect change in the world.
Jennifer Turrell is a member of the DailyWorth Connect program. Read more about the program here.