Investing For Fun and Profit

June 19, 2013 § 6 Comments

Fin spent two hours making a bee-catching box, caught a bee, fed it sugar water, and settled in for some good ol' fashioned entertainment

Fin spent two hours making a bee-catching box, caught a bee, fed it sugar water, and settled in for some good ol’ fashioned entertainment

Last night, after I returned home from a reading and an interview on VPR’s Vermont Edition, Penny – who’d listened to the interview – dressed me down a bit. “You didn’t talk about our investments,” she said, and for a moment, I was a little puzzled, because like most people, my definition of “investment” has been hijacked by the mentality of money. In other words, exactly what investments was she thinking I should have mentioned? The $50 in small bills we have stuffed under our mattress? The half gallon jar of pennies sitting on my desk?

As should be entirely obvious by now, Penny is infinitely wiser than me, and therefore able to clearly see that the realm of investing needn’t be solely about money and finance. It needn’t be about flipping condos, or precious metals. It needn’t be about stocks and bonds and convoluted financial instruments that are generally rooted in the assumption that’s it’s perfectly ethical to screw someone else or ravage the environment in the name of profit. I mean, hey, we live in a dog-eat-dog world. If you ain’t getting yours, someone else is.

But of course these are not the only things we can invest in. I am starting to wonder what the world would look like if we applied the same ingenuity we apply to investing in money and finance to investing in the things that really matter, the things that provide true, unconditional security, not the strictly conditional security of that comes of relying on institutions that are both too big to fail (which almost certainly means they ultimately will) and beyond the sphere of our personal influence. Because let’s be crystal clear: These institutions care for you only so much as you can afford to have them care for you. It’s like paying for love, and we all know how that generally works out.

So the next time I have an opportunity (today, as it turns out: I’ll be on KERA’s Think program at 12:00 central, if you happen to be hanging in Texas and wanting to talk about this stuff) to discuss my family’s investments, here’s what I’m going to say:

Yes, it is true that we do not have much in the way of investments, in so much as investments are assumed to mean money and other assets that can readily be exchanged for money. But this does not mean we are not investing. Indeed, we are always investing: In our land, in our relationships with friends and neighbors, in our children, and in the skills that enable us to thrive outside the realm of money and finance. The tragic irony of monetary investments is that they inevitably divest us of the unconditional security that comes of immersing ourselves in family, community, skills, and the natural world, because if we spend the bulk of our waking hours in a quest for financial accumulation, there is little time or energy remaining to invest in anything else. So yeah, some people buy stocks and bonds in a quest for security. Me, I’m planting trees, putting up hay with the neighbors, and learning how to use hand tools with my boys. And darned if these don’t feel like the most profitable investments I could be making.¬†

§ 6 Responses to Investing For Fun and Profit

  • Sharon says:

    Amen Brother!

    • Anshuman says:

      FUn and profit are two things do not go hand in hand. I learned from your site. if you are interested please visit my site about more easy and legit ways to earn

  • Dawn says:

    So true. Nobody at T. Rowe Price or Fidelity is going to be sitting with me on my death bed but I hope someone I love whom I have invested my heart and soul into will be. That feels like security to me! Thanks for continuing to let us know about interviews. Really enjoy listening in when I get a chance.

  • Nail. On. The. Head. Penny’s right, wise woman! And it seems to me you’ve both got your priorities straight.

  • […] ::¬†Investing for fun and profit. […]

  • A Dutch friend once told me about a compliment that someone had once paid her: “Dutch women have practical knowledge.” I’d modify it and say that it extends to most women and it sounds like Penny falls into that category. While I am conscious of the non-monetary investments that I have made and continue to make, I am also conscious of the non-traditional monetary ones that I’ve made. Investing years of effort, sacrifice and earnings in my knowledge of Pilates has given me a foundation for a life of work that I am passionate about and a way to help others. From a purely fiscal standpoint, my investments don’t make much sense at all. But from a holistic standpoint, I had no other choice. My dreams have led me to this point of departure and I’m not turning back.

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