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8 Months In 800 Words

December 17th, 2011 No comments

Multnomah FallsA brief re-introduction to anyone who may happen to stumble across this blog 8 months after it ceased to update:

I live in Portland now! I’m a vegan now! I’ve re-saved all of the money I spent moving, but I’m confused as to how I should move forward with my financial goals…

Before I go off on that tangent, allow me to expand on each of these topics.

I live in Portland now!

Girlfriend and I moved at the end of June, each having landed jobs after pre-move interviews, and we’re finally starting to settle in.  (I’ve also begun writing in run-on sentences.)  To save money, we’re living with a friend (henceforth named Roommate) who moved out here from Chicago with us.  As a result of our tight-quartered living situation, Portland is cheaper than Chicago…but after our year lease is up, that will probably cease to be the case.

But – and stop me if you already knew this – Portland is beautiful and amazing.  There are trees everywhere, and there are mountains, and there are waterfalls, and there are city parks filled with nothing but undisturbed wildlife larger than the entire town I grew up in.  And people here are as absurdly friendly and kind and welcoming as every hyperbolic joke I’d ever heard about the laid-back vibe of Portland social circles.  Also, being a progressive city, Portland is very welcoming to the second thing I wanted to discuss:

I’m a vegan now!

I actually already was at the time of my previous post (I recently passed my vegan 9-month-iversary), but I probably wasn’t secure enough in my veganism to discuss it at that time.  The long discussion regarding my choice to go vegan involves a series of topics, including environmental concerns, health concerns, animal welfare concerns, globalization and industrialization concerns, and deep, introspective and autobiographical reflection regarding past experiences with conscientious meat-eating and the guilt associated with them.  But obviously, this is not really the place to discuss any of that.  The short explanation of my veganism is that I’ve become a bit of a radical leftist, and becoming vegan allows me to live up to several of these recently rediscovered and newly honed principles.  In addition to veganism, I’ve become an outspoken supporter of the opposition to major financial institutions that’s been cropping up internationally.  (OCCUPY NO-KILL FINANCE!)  And that leads me to my third point…

I’m conflicted as to how I should move forward with my financial goals.

As past readers will probably remember, I have always looked for banks in terms of weighing their interest rates against the level of convenience that they can offer me.  That is no longer the case.

I left ING Direct when they announced they were being purchased by Capital One.  Though ING was probably in and of itself a corporate monstrosity that had no noble goals as far as their uses for my money, I simply couldn’t stomach the thought of my money being even further diluted into an even larger and more inherently sinister pool of gambling funds for Wall Street executives.  So, I took my ING funds (emergency funds, car and vacation savings, etc.) and moved them to a local Portland credit union.  And, why the hell not, I took my checking account away from Chase, too.

But that’s only my cash.  What I’m concerned about is a far stickier subject because my newfound motivations lie in stark contrast to the advice of any and all financial advisors…I want to take my retirement savings out of the stock market entirely.

Now, I realize that Wall Street offers options for a bleeding-heart investor, but I take issue with all of them.  One social fund will cut out stocks of weapons manufacturers so as not to profit from the deaths of destitute Afghanis, but they’ll leave in stocks for food producers that promote diabetes in poor Americans.  Another fund will refuse to support oil manufacturers so as not to profit from pollution, but they’ll leave in agricultural megacorporations that use more fossil fuels than any other industry.  “Green” funds tout Wal-Mart as a heroic corporation for their decisions to use CFL bulbs and solar panels, but neglect the socioeconomic impact that Wal-Mart’s insidious business practices have had on rural America.

And, even if I were to find the perfect fund that matched all of my extremely specific and far-reaching requirements, the act of its being traded in the stock market would still benefit firms on Wall Street that are responsible for the unabashed buying out of the American political system on every level, which is really my pet concern.

But what is a boy to do?  Invest my retirement in a credit union account for 0.4% interest?  Keep it as cash under my mattress?  Give it all to charity and vow to die by 65?  No.  There aren’t really any options for a guy like me.  So for the time being I’ll keep everything where it is (Vanguard FTSE index fund) and keep looking around for different potential homes for my (still-meager) IRA.  Does anyone have any suggestions?  Is anyone even reading this?

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