A Reluctant FI Blogger, But Nobody Else Is Talking About This

Is it possible to achieve financial independence (FI) while pursuing a triple bottom line, which values people, planet, and profit? I sure think so, but it’s not as straight forward as setting up monthly automatic deposits into low-cost broad based stock market index funds or investing in rental properties and later living off the 4% withdrawl rule, which seems to be the mainstream approach to FI currently. I certainly understand the appeal of these simpler approaches and am delighted that these options have made financial independence accessible to so many people.

But what if you aren’t comfortable with the idea of earning money from the stocks of companies which follow business practices or sell products that aren’t in line with your values and you don’t want to be a landlord? For me it is important to support a regenerative vs. an extractive economy. That means I want my money to “serve humanity while simultaneously stewarding the integrity of earth’s ecosystems” in the words of the Capital Institute.

So, if I don’t invest in index funds or rental properties, what can I do in pursuit of regenerative capitalism to build wealth? I’ve scoured the internet for FI websites tackling this issue only finding a smattering of random articles or podcast episodes addressing a few alternative investment options and some environmentally-firendly ideas. So I overcame my Luddite tendencies and desire to spend as much time as possible outdoors to create this blog in hopes of crowdsourcing answers to this very question and house the information in one central location.

I also hope to spark deeper conversations about how to best pursue what I am calling the 3P (people, planet, profit) lifestyle. Some of the topics that will be covered in this vein include:

*the ROI of green living

*regenerative (vs. extractive) investing and income generation

*recognizing the abundance around us (hint: much of what is in the waste stream really isn’t trash, but capitalism makes it more economically viable for businesses and people to throw things away than to re-direct them to people and business that could use them)

*self-directed IRAs and alternative investment options

*the importance of supporting your local economy

*social capital – building community

Applying this 3P lifestyle lens to one’s financial activities and decisions can require significant thought and effort. It’s a less common and less well-documented and potentially slower (and more fulfilling) path to FI. Some readers may be eager to jump in and pursue many of the ideas and suggestions shared in blog posts to come. Others may want to pick and choose what makes sense for them given their current life circumstances. No matter at what level you engage in the 3P lifestyle I’m delighted you’ve stopped by and hope you’ll join the conversation.

For now, please tell me:

Are you interested in pursuing 3P FI? How big of a priority is it for you to invest and earn money in ways that equally value people, planet, and profit? How are you already investing or earning money in ways that emphasize the triple bottom line? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

12 thoughts on “A Reluctant FI Blogger, But Nobody Else Is Talking About This”

  1. So, the “3p’s”. In my own pursuit of financial indepence, I realized that more emphasis on people, has lead me to more profit.

    In my Nursery business, I find that giving away some plants, especially ones that are easy for me to propagate, brings me more business, thus more profit. As a Yoga teacher, I make much more profit, when the class is a donation class, then when I charge.

    It’s about believing in yourself. That you have something special to offer. When money isn’t the main driver, people respond very positively.

    Thank you Laura for all your insight.

    1. Thank you for sharing your experience, Albert. It’s wonderful that you took that approach in your business endeavors after reaching financial independence. Hopefully, your comment will inspire others to begin experimenting with this option (even in small doses) while still on the path to FI to see the effects in their own lives as well.

  2. This is just slightly off topic, but I’ve been wondering as to the viability of reconciling the 3 p’s in practice for a while now, with marginal success. As I’m reading your post and Alberts comment, I’m struck by the revelation that if you focus on people and planet, in essence that IS the profit. If you help cultivate a resilient community, you will be resilient as well as a member of that community. If we value the health of the community over the health of our bank account, we will profit. If we truly value people and planet, then we value community, and in that regard, we should also be thinking about financial interdependence, which is part of the invisible landscape of “community.” Realiing we are interdependent community members, in ways other than financial as well, leads to the psychic/emotional liberation of realizing we’re all in this together. There is some element of risking your personal security for the security of the tribe, if we are lucky to have one. Of course, most of us don’t feel much in the way of tribal association in our individuated culture so that might be a good starting point, cultivating the “were in this together,” all for one, one for all mentality. If we followed the old dictum of asking what we can do for our country, or our community, or our group of friends, then we can start offering our specialty and receiving the benefit of knowing that we are serving our purpose. Now we’re talking about spiritual profit, which becomes even more valuable in the post-scarcity age. I know some folks who have been doing gift circles, offering their abundant gifts to the community while expressing their needs and where they need help. I haven’t experienced this yet, but I’m touched by the concept and looking forward to the gift economy in the potential post-scarcity age. Thanks for the stimulating read.

    1. What beautiful and wise observations you made in your comment, Lev. Thank you for re-directing me towards the concept of financial interdependence. It is an idea that is slowly being discussed and gaining traction in certain FI arenas. I’ve heard it most eloquently (although you put it quite nicely yourself) and overtly expressed by the co-author of the seminal FI book Your Money or Your Life (http://podcast.affordanything.com/123-your-money-or-your-life-vicki-robin/). I had already been planning to include blog posts about social capital, but you’ve reminded me that financial interdependence is another way of framing that very important conversation. I’m excited to engage readers more in conversations about the gift economy, the sacred economics Charles Eisenstein refers to, time banks, and so much more….

  3. As a new business owner its tricky trying to get these all under wraps. You find that so many people that you hope would come to support your efforts never make it. In a busy world most people are creatures of habit, so even without pushing the sustainable aspect… I’m just getting by. Maybe it’s time to push that envelope and see what happens. It’s an urban sustainable community for sure, but the beach crowd wants one thing…. the beach. They are not interested in your local art, sustainable reusable cups, or supporting local. It’s a tough push on a big scale but getting better everyday. Good luck with the blog and I hope I have more to add in the future.

    1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experiences, Sue. I imagine it can be challenging to get locals to commit to helping you implement your vision for a sustainably-minded business when the business is located in a beach community that feels somewhat separate and distant from the urban core, where most locals reside, like in our area. It’s great that you are trying to operate a beach shop focused on the triple bottom line and I hope it will get easier for you. Albert and I have commented on a number of occasions about what a great idea we thought you had for renting out beach supplies to tourists so that they didn’t have to buy them and then throw them out at the end of their stay. There is a lot of potential to think outside of the box and help transform the the typical tourist beach vacation into a much more environementally-friendly experience. Hopefully, this blog will offer you some insights and ideas to implement in the future.

  4. Can their be another face to financial independence? My son is a Musician. While he has to work at his trade to live, his work is his passion. Wouldn’t this also be considered “Financial Independence?”

    1. Certainly, creatives, who pursue a talent they are passionate about, are well positioned to enjoy the time they spend earning money. Having a skill or knowledge that you enjoy tapping into and which renders a product or service others are willing to pay for puts you at an advantage on the path to FI. I don’t however, think it automatically equates to FI if the Creative in question at the very least hasn’t had the forethought along the way to save up an emergency fund just in case for example he/she broke an arm or had some other accident that precluded them from working for a period of time. For me FI implies the accumulation of some kind of financial safety net.

  5. I’m considering how to incorporate this sustainability into my own FI progress. I’m taking the “investment” path instead of the “real estate” or “business build” path.

    Right now, the easiest step for me is to focus on building up my dividend income from compatible companies. Just got a book as a freebie from donating to the Academy for Systems Change (continuing the late Donna Meadows’ work on systems thinking) — Joseph Bragdon’s “Companies that Mimic Life” [ISBN 978-1-78353-542-2]. He identifies a set of companies which place higher value on living assets — people and Nature — than non-living assets — money and other forms of inanimate capital. This “Global Living Assets Management Performance Index” (LAMP) has 60 publicly-traded companies he has traced since 1996, with a core set of seven he’s focused on to demonstrate why this index has successfully outperformed other equity indexes for the long term.

    All seven of the Focus Group pay reliable dividends; six trade where I can easily buy them in my (US) trading account. Some of these are among “the usual suspects” when talking about socially-responsible companies. Most also appear in general conversation about good dividend-paying companies. Three are also part of the S&P-500 index. Bragdon dedicates a chapter to each of the seven in his book, demonstrating why these businesses are great ongoing examples of sustainability as durable long-term competitive advantage.

    In order of appearance in “Companies”, with what I believe are the relevant stock ‘tickers’: Unilever [UL]; Nucor [NUE]; United Technologies [UTX]; Novo Nordisk [NVO]; Henkel [HEN3.F]; Nike [NKE]; Westpac Banking [WBK]. All are on the New York Stock Exchange, excepting Henkel in Frankfurt.

    I’ve chosen to work towards FI with some direct investment in individual stocks. I’m giving these seven a close look on how they might suit my progress.

    1. So happy to hear from another person pursuing a more sustainability-focused path to FI. Thank you for sharing the information about Joseph Bragdon’s Companies that Mimic Life book and the Global Living Assets Management Performance Index (LAMP), neither of which I had heard of before. It’s good to know about this to be able to share the information with those that are looking for more mainstream SRI (socially-responsible investment) options as an initial segue into a 3pfi lifestyle.

      1. Yes, these resources are super-interesting and helpful! I think this is the type of information that I’m most in need of. I have a base of investments, but am finally getting to the place financially where I will be able to dedicate more time and money into investing for FIRE. More information on socially responsible companies and options (in simple, how-to language) would be much appreciated.

        I’m also really excited to dive into the resources on local investing. I live in a rural area, and have been thinking about local real estate (small college town) as one route that might be better because I’d be participating in our local economy, rather than sending my money to the S&P. It’s exciting to see that there might be many other options out there beyond that, so I look forward to more. Thank you!

        1. You are very welcome, Maria. Not long after you left this comment I uploaded my latest blog post, which features my guest post on Sisters for FI. You can find that guest post at https://sistersforfi.com/blog/an-environmentally-and-socially-conscious-path-to-fi-with-laura-oldanie-of-triple-bottom-line-fi. It contains a few more specifics on investing options. I’ve definitely got more to say and share on the topic already. I just need to find the time to write the posts in that simple, how to manner that will be most helpful to people. I also still have a massive learning curve with lots more to learn and then share. I hope you and others will share on this site as you learn other things as well.

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