Is it possible to achieve financial freedom in a way that helps solve the environmental challenges and social injustices plaguing our world instead of causing them? That’s the question I set out to answer back in 2017 when I launched my earlier website Triple Bottom Line FI. When I created that website my primary objective was to identify socially responsible ways to invest and manage my money.
During the almost two years that blog existed, I realized that another important message I want to emphasize for my readers is that leading a rich and resilient life requires more than just a solid financial portfolio. I created this website to share resources, ideas, tools, and inspiration that can foster lasting abundance and well-being in our lives, our communities, and for all of the creatures with which we share our beautiful planet.
Hi, I’m Laura. I had a pretty mainstream North American childhood, living in middle-class suburbia mostly oblivious to the downstream effects of my actions. Once I got to college, where I majored in international studies, my horizons began to broaden exponentially. Studying abroad led to service as a Peace Corps volunteer, grad school, and then a US Department of State Fellowship, which propelled me on to jobs that required me to visit and collaborate with people in numerous developing countries as well as marginalized communities right here in the United States.
Along the way, a budding interest in the Slow Food movement, as well as my desire to be outside more getting to know my neighbors after I bought my first home in Washington, DC (along with the free seedlings my City Council member gave away at his annual picnics), led me to start gardening. This proved beneficial on multiple fronts. Not only did I interact a great deal more with my neighbors, I grew my own food. That eventually led to my discovery of permaculture, a design science that looks to nature’s closed-loop system as the model, which greatly influences my thoughts and actions today.
Somehow in about 2010, while I was living and working in Washington, D.C. I found myself reading The Four Hour Work Week by Tim Ferris. The examples and ideas in this book appealed to my nomadic, free spirit and provided the catalytic spark for a paradigm shift in my thinking about how life could be lived. Soon afterward, I was able to convince my employer to allow me to quit my full-time job and hire me as a part-time consultant. To compensate for the reduction in income I got a roommate, the rent from which almost completely covered my mortgage.
Three years later, in search of a life in a more affordable location with better weather I sold my house and spent two years exploring the southwest. I camped, Couchsurfed, house-sat, and crashed with friends and family all over the region. Even my strong case of wanderlust and love of hiking though, couldn’t overcome my desire to nurture my own garden and integrate myself into a supportive like-minded community. In the end, I ultimately landed right back where my journey started before I left for the Peace Corps 25 years ago in St. Petersburg, Florida.
As I settle more deeply into this next phase of life, I’m tapping into what Vicki Robin, co-author of Your Money or Your Life, refers to as the ABCs of Wealth. These building blocks of wealth consist of a wide range of resources and assets beyond financial capital that fill our lives with meaning, richness, and resilience. Some examples from my life of what that involves include establishing a small olive grove and food forest in my yard; finding and (responsibly) harvesting from the trees that drip delicious subtropical fruits into the alleys and sidewalks of my neighborhood; getting to know my neighbors; building a diverse multi-generational circle of friends and creating inviting outdoor and indoor spaces at my home in which to spend time with them; as well as learning how to blog to share this with the growing number of people who are craving this information. It is this foundation of multiple forms of wealth and capital that gives me the confidence to earn, spend, manage, and invest my money and live my life in ways that truly align with my values. I am single (in a committed long-term relationship), childless, in my late forties, and debt-free with a home I own free and clear. I’ve opened up a self-directed IRA through which I’m investing to save the planet and I’m pursuing financial freedom on my own terms. Today, I find myself somewhere between agency (according to J.D. Roth’s six stages of financial freedom) and lean or entrepreneur FI, with a strong emphasis on frugality, sustainable living, and the triple bottom line (people, planet, & profit).
Personal Disclaimer: I am a work in progress. As much as I want to make decisions that equally value people, planet, and profit, I’m not perfect and I don’t always manage or choose to do it. I’m not judging anyone who isn’t walking this path either. I just wanted to create a space for people who are interested in this topic. So internet police I’m putting that out here for the record…..
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