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How to Improve Your Personal “Triple Bottom Line”

August 26, 2017


The Triple Bottom Line of a corporation, according to The Economist, consists of three Ps: profit, people and planet. It measures more than wealth, taking into account the social and environmental impact of a particular corporation. I’m always looking for ways to improve my personal TBL, and seeking products and services that do the same.

See, for most of my life, I considered myself bad with money. I always hated math, I resented paying bills, I just didn’t want to have to think about it. I took out big student loans and didn’t pay them back, I overspent, I didn’t save. After I got married, I let my husband deal with the finances, though he wasn’t particularly good with money either. At least when the rent went unpaid or we couldn’t afford a night out at the movies, I had someone else to blame.

When my marriage ended just as I entered middle age, I realized I’d better get a grip on my financial health. For the first time in my life, I really started paying attention to money.  My income as a tour guide and freelance writer is largely seasonal, inconsistent, and not likely to make me a billionaire, plus the cost of housing is high in Key West, but I long ago decided it was important to me that I enjoy my work and where I live. I also want to spend my money well, as in not supporting corporations that harm the planet or it’s inhabitants.

One of the first things I did after my husband moved out, for reasons largely explained by the Occupy Wall Street movement, was take my money out of the big banks. I moved my checking and savings accounts from Bank of America to my local credit union, where they don’t charge bloated fees for overdrafts and services like BOA. Once I had a relationship with them, they were willing to give me decent credit though my credit rating is “Fair” at best. I pulled my IRA funds out of Merrill Lynch, and invested with socially-conscious Aspiration instead.  I pay less in fees, and it’s much easier to make small deposits that add up over time than with ML. Plus, Aspiration donates ten cents of every dollar to charitable activities expanding economic opportunity.

I made other consumer choices, too. I cut the expensive cable with a hundred channels I never watched and got a Roku stick with a few good subscription channels. I stopped buying $12 bottles of wine for the house, opting instead for the more eco-friendly Bota Box. Each box holds 4 bottles of ok (not great, but ok) wine for just $21. The box and bag inside are recyclable, creating 85% less waste than if the same wine lived in bottles.

Next, I ditched my haircolorist and his products tested on animals for a subscription to cruelty-free, Leaping-Buffy Certified Madison Reed. I stopped buying plastic disposable razors in favor of animal-cruelty-free Angel Shave Club, which donates part of their sales to the Malala Fund which helps send impoverished girls to school.  As a bonus with each of these products, I get to spend less time and less scooter-gas money shopping for hair dye, razors, and wine.

I also shopped around for lower internet prices, and ended up getting higher internet speed for less money. I cut down my cell phone bill by taking a plan with less data. I really haven’t noticed any difference, it’s not like I use my phone to play video games or watch movies.

There’s real power in our pocketbooks. Consumer choices sway the way the world moves.  Money may not buy happiness, but it’s a tool we can use to help build a world we love.



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