#AboutMe: Money Nitty-Gritty

(This post originated as a post I made on the Socially Conscious FIRE group on Facebook just now (Wednesday 1/13/2021). I’ve pasted the original post here for starters, and am going to be adding to it. As time passes, the post you see below may get considerably longer and more detailed than the original. To see the original-original, plus a LOT of thoughtful & enlightening posts by other people, join the Socially Conscious FIRE group on Facebook.)

Hi everyone! I have been following and enjoying this group for awhile; frequently Liking and occasionally Commenting, but this might be my first post.

Not long ago, via my permaculture/resilience circles, I learned an acronym that
was inspired by FIRE but is a bit different in orientation. That acronym is FREE: Financial Resilience, Economic Empowerment. The term was coined by permaculture teacher & designer Mike Hoag, who is also a member of this group.

It’s a wider definition that may or may not include retirement per se, and may or may not include having much, if any, money saved. There are many forms of capital other than monetary (such as social capital) — although there’s no denying money can make life a lot easier.

I don’t plan on retiring; I plan on continuing to do my work in one form or another til it’s time to leave my earthly body. (I’m a self-employed writer, educator, and activist.)

If Social Security still exists by the time I’m 67 (I’m 58 now), the cost-basis of my lifestyle is such that I can easily live on that, even in the unlikely event that I earn no other income. I have created a low-overhead (but rich in other ways) life that helps me be financially resilient.

Money is a big subject, and I sometimes feel awkward talking about it in public still, but I see how important it is to share information and experiences, so I’m starting to speak up publicly about money.

In my life, I’ve earned a solid middle-class income for a time (37k-48k a year, which was very abundant as I was living in smaller / less expensive cities) — and I have been very low-income (7-13k before taxes) for much longer periods, and even right to the brink of homelessness at one point.

Three years ago my mother passed (Dad passed in 2010), and I inherited money. I never expected to have money, and on top of grieving the loss of Mom, it took some adjusting to trust myself to use that money wisely. Used about half to buy a home free-and-clear in the city I love and have adopted as my hometown (Daytona Beach, Florida USA); now am working on investing the other half in things that will help my community and make a better world, while also providing me with some sort of return (which may or may not be money).

The security of outright homeownership has made my life so much easier. And made me an even stronger advocate of housing security for all, and a wide menu of housing options to serve all kinds of people’s wants & priorities, than I was already (which is saying a lot).

Recently I became a co-investor/owner in a permaculture farm and education center in rural Florida. Also, I gave a friend, who has helped me a lot, some money to help them buy a house. (Originally had planned it as a loan but decided to make it a gift for various reasons.)

I’m a big fan of Laura Oldanie’s writings on Rich & Resilient Living. (Laura is a friend and fellow member of this group who I met via permaculture circles.)

I will have more to say but will stop for the moment and see if this post sparks any resonance in other people.

Thank you all for being here. I appreciate this group a lot.