Crossroads Fund was excited to have Chris Long join us last week for Financial Planning 101: Financial Freedom and Social Justice – How You Can Achieve Both. Chris is a certified financial planner at Long & Associates LLC, and also serves as the treasurer on the Crossroads Fund Board of Directors. Over the course of the evening, Chris laid out a series of steps on how to prioritize financial stability and social justice in our lives:Stop Digging: First off, look over your daily expenses and see what you can cut. Although your $4 daily latte doesn’t seem like much at the time, if you took the money you would have spent on that coffee and invested it for 30 years instead, it could be worth $134! Chris also suggested paying off consumer debt (credit cards, car loans, etc.) and trying to avoid carrying a balance on your credit cards, if at all possible. Live Your Values: What are the things most important to you in your life? Taking care of your family? Staying healthy? Travel? Supporting organizations working on issues you care about? No one at our workshop named having a new car or eating lunch out every day as being the most important things in life, but the way we spend money doesn’t always reflect our values. Chris challenged us to think long term and to take a moment before we spend to ask ourselves whether that purchase will help us build the life we want in the long run. Build Your Savings:  Chris suggested working towards saving at least 15% of your take home pay each month. He advised to first building an emergency fund and then to invest for retirement.Socially Responsible Investing or Buy Cheap and Donate the Difference? Chris also challenged assumptions about socially responsible investing (SRI).  SRI funds screen out investments around ethical criteria, like whether or not companies profit from arms or tobacco.  Chris explained that SRI funds often don’t have many “good” options to buy from, so they end up buying stocks from tech companies (which can have their own environmental and labor issues) and banks, which may lend the money out to un-ethical companies. Most investment funds are also buying and selling stocks from other investors, not directly from the companies themselves. Companies rarely earn or lose money based on whether individual investors are buying their stocks. Chris argued that you have a bigger and more direct financial impact by boycotting the products of companies whose policies you don’t agree with, rather than not buying their stocks. He also pointed out that SRI funds charge a much higher percentage in fees than traditional investment funds, and ultimately perform about the same over the long run. Given those issues, Chris advises folks to invest their money in traditional (non-socially responsible) funds and to take the money they would have otherwise been paying in fees and give it directly to the organizations and issues they care about.If you couldn’t make it last week, or if you could and you’re ready to learn more, check out our second workshop:Sunday, November 11, 2012 l  3-5pm  l  Estate Planning to Provide for What You Care About, with Rosemary Mulryan and Michael Helfgott Congregation Or Chadash at Emanuel Congregation 5959 North Sheridan Road, Chicago, IL 60660 Come learn why everyone should have a will and estate plan, and how to approach the task of making a plan. This energetic and interactive workshop will focus on how thoughtful planning can ensure that you provide for the things that you care about – including family, loved ones, friends, and the causes that are important to you.RSVP to reserve a spot by emailing and check out the full series on the Crossroads Fund website.In the meantime, check out these financial planning links and resources below.ResourcesInvesting and Retirement (investment basics and investing for retirement)SRI Investing www.socialinvest.orgBeing a smarter (some information requires paid subscription) Money ManagementMaking the Most of Your Money – Jane Bryant QuinnMoney Without Matrimony – Sheryl GarrettGovernment (insurance regulator)www.irs.gov (information on variable annuities) (to check on an investment advisor)Shopping for a (compares mortgage rates)High Yield Savings Finding a financial planner/ (National Assoc of Personal Financial Advisors– Fee-Only™ Planners)Articles on Personal click on “News” Tab