green roth IRAs du jour
April 13, 2009 8:52 PM   Subscribe

What are some environmentally and socially concious mutual funds that I should be switching my $2k roth IRA to?

Since Washington Mutual is switching to Chase, if I figure this out before 4/20, I don't have to pay the $75 transfer fee, so now's the time!
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (6 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Well, Chase is a pretty fucked up company, so simply switching to a company that's not raping taxpayers (not to mention the recently unemployed) would be an improvement.
posted by delmoi at 9:02 PM on April 13, 2009

It might not be right for you, but I will throw Walden out there. Professionally, I have run into them a number of times and I like them a lot. I appreciate that they don't just screen out companies they don't like and ignore them, but will actually do shareholder activism and try to change companies.
posted by milkrate at 9:16 PM on April 13, 2009

If there IS a single "right" answer it'd likely be an allocation fund. Most mutual funds are too specific to be a one-size-fits-all. For instance, did you want something aggressive? (aggressive usually= volatile= be comfortable with a roller coaster.

"Allocation funds" are funds of funds. They do all the allocating for you, using other mutual funds. For instance, if you have an "aggressive allocation" fund, it will probably include a hefty chunk of some small cap mutual fund, and less of a chunk of a bond mutual fund.

These are pretty handy, so that you don't have all your eggs in one place, like all in Large Cap.

But what almost no mutual fund tells you is that on top of the fees they charge, there are hidden fees that they aren't required to disclose. If you have a fund of funds, you have two layers of fees.

That said, I think they're a great one stop shop, and I recommend them for people whose account isn't big enough yet to diversify in a more old fashioned way, which would mean either 1) buying lots of different funds or 2) ball-parking it with a "balanced" fund, which usually holds 70% stocks and 30% bonds (sometimes the split is 60/40).

So. Given all that, you might want to check out Calvert for their SRI allocation funds. Their performance is all over the map these days. I like Calvert very much- their shareholder action is awesome and their research department is even better- but I don' t believe you should have to buy bad fund just because it's SRI, so any fund you're thinking about check out on Morningstar. They're all different. Calvert would also strongly prefer you buy their funds through a broker, and they're happy to find you one in your area.

If you want to be a little more old fashioned, the Pax World Balanced Fund has been a pretty reliable fund, though I haven't checked it out recently.

If you want a list of SRI funds in general, try They don't list all of them, but they list most.

You can memail me if you have more questions, but I figure I've already drowned you in more words than you wanted.
posted by small_ruminant at 9:41 PM on April 13, 2009 [1 favorite]

That came out more negative about Calvert than I intended. They have a LOT of funds and some are better than others. That's all I meant to say.
posted by small_ruminant at 9:42 PM on April 13, 2009

A local favorite is Self-Help Credit Union. Their work is wealth creation for low income folks--basically they provide the good kind of mortgage for poor people rather than the bad ones that destroyed everything. Unlike a lot of these things, you're not investing in some company that claims feel-good purposes, you're actually investing in people.
posted by hydropsyche at 3:45 AM on April 14, 2009

The Amana funds invest following Sharia law principles. You may be thinking, "why would he be telling me this?" But investing following Sharia priniciples means they invest in companies that do not exploit people, no usury, no porn, no liquor, no casinos, no financial institutions. Also this means that they sit on stocks longer, much longer, pulling out long-term gains rather than day trading. While everyone is down Amana actually is less down than most and they are a deal right now.
posted by Pollomacho at 5:55 AM on April 14, 2009

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