Sunday, July 02, 2006

...and nice

A lot of people say they want to donate a lot of time and money towards charitable causes they believe in in their retirement, as though socially-responsible acts are something you turn to as an ends -- rather than a means -- in your life and your investing career.

Not so. As the world looks more and more every day like it's going to hell in a handbasket, I've found myself looking for ways to give money to support causes I believe in through the ways I spend and invest my money now, as opposed to when I retire.

Some people think of this as "ethical investing" and until now, the only real way to do it was to buy so-called "ethical" mutual funds. That poses a problem for me because I find mutual funds to be a tad rigid, and I despise the fees and MERs. Plus, the capital is vulnerable during downturns, something that's not good news for people like me who try to live by Buffett's maxim of "never lose money".

In that spirit, I draw your attention to a great little investment opportunity -- one with the added benefit of allowing you to support causes that make the world a slightly better place, while making a few dollars in the process as well.

VanCity credit union sells term deposits with relatively low minimums (some are as low as $500 initial investment) where VanCity re-invests the money you deposit into co-ops, low-interest loans to entrepreneurs, and even affordable housing projects that need help to get off the ground. You can decide whether you want your money to be invested in Canada or overseas, and like a GIC, your principal is protected since VanCity is covered under CDIC.

The best part? You might assume the returns are microscopic, but the returns VanCity currently offers actually beat most of the high-interest savings accounts I've seen, even my very own 3.15% as ING (although that number is set to go up next week)

So there's a capital-protected, RRSP-eligible investment that beats inflation and gives back to the global community in a really tangible way. That's something ol' Warren himself would get behind.

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