Alternative Investment

Someone in the Socially Conscious FIRE group just asked if anyone had had any success with non-traditional investments (i.e., not stock market/brokerage, and not real estate).

Awhile back I wrote a post in this blog, sharing suggestions for alternative investment. (Actually a series of posts. See Further Reading section below.) At the time, I had not yet done any of these investments myself. (However, I know personally or have read about people who have successfully done each one of them.)

Now, about a year after making that series of posts, I can say I’ve actually done one of the alternative investments I often suggest to people: invest in a farm or other regenerative enterprise.

Specifically, I have become a co-investor in a permaculture farm & learning center in my home state. Not local, but it’s only about 150 miles away from where I live. I know and trust the people. I don’t expect monetary returns anytime soon, but even if I never see any, I strongly support what they are doing, and feel that I have increased my security and wealth just by being part of something like this. Also, my investment allows me the option to become a resident on the farm. Something I might do if I ever had to leave the house I own and live in (because of sea-level rise or other unforeseen circumstances).

And come to think of it, my dwelling itself, which I own free and clear, also offers potential future monetary gain, but only if its value goes up AND if I sell the house (which I do not plan to do, barring unforeseen circumstances). I don’t buy into the conventional “homeownership as investment” school of thought. My house is my beloved place to live. That said, it offers me a stable, low-overhead platform, allowing me to focus most of my waking hours on engaging in creative pursuits and improving the wellbeing of my community and the planet, and in that sense I consider my house a very sound investment indeed.

Further Reading:

• Laura Oldanie has a new blog post, How To Invest Locally: Suggestions from Michael Shuman. “Everyone wants to live in a thriving, vibrant community, yet we usually spend and invest our money in ways that direct that money elsewhere. While we’re often encouraged to embrace our role as consumers to buy local, much less emphasis is placed on our potential as investors in our local economy. That’s why I was so excited when local investing champion Michael Shuman published his latest book …” Also, this is interesting; corroborates my experience and concurs with one of my top recommendations re overhead reduction: “As part of this approach, Shuman advocates for the financial benefits of buying a home, paying off the mortgage, and investing in repairs and retrofits that will make the home more energy efficient and reduce household bills. Says Shuman, ‘Investing in your own home effectively means running your own hedge fund.'”

• Here’s my series of posts on Becoming a Local Investor – Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4. (Note, some of my tips do involve real estate, but even some of the real-estate tips are “alternative” in the sense that they are not ideas I’ve seen widely talked about.) I’ve been so happy and relieved to hear people talking about non-Wall Street investments. I really think divesting from Wall Street and expanding our investment menu is crucial, not only to our personal wellbeing, but also to the wellbeing of our communities, not to mention the future survival of human beings on this planet.