Establishing Your Values and Trusting Your Instincts
Do your research thoroughly, and then trust your instincts. If you feel uneasy about an investment, probe deeper before sinking large amounts of cash into it. If you feel that a brokerage firm is pushing you in a direction that leaves you doubting their intentions, trust that instinct and express your concerns. While it's wise to listen to information from a savvy investment counselor, you are the one who has to live with the consequences, and you have the right to make all of your financial decisions.
If your conscience flares when investing in companies that pollute the atmosphere or use animals for cosmetic testing, you have a multitude of choices that will align with your principles.
You can, for example, purchase shares in socially responsible mutual funds. Each socially responsible fund has its own investing mandate that instructs its managers not to invest in banned companies and industries — for instance, those that adversely affect the environment, sell products like guns or cigarettes, or make money, directly or indirectly, on gambling.
The investing mandates of socially responsible funds vary. One fund might be allowed to invest in companies that support the distribution and use of condoms, while others explicitly oppose the practice. Mandates are usually spelled out in the fund's prospectus or clearly stated on the fund management firm's Web site. Any time you make smart investments that also align with your heart, you'll sleep better at night.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, mothers who work full-time contribute a total of $476 billion a year to household incomes. Working mothers make a vast contribution to the U.S. economy. According to Mediamark Research, in 2005, working mothers spent $94.8 billion on new cars, $16.5 billion on clothing, and more than $26 billion on vacations.