Conventional investments: Virtually all conventional investments (money market, 401K, stocks, etc.) are tied to the dependent-upon-growth mainstream economy and are thus fully embroiled in the issues discussed in Part I of this document. The idea of an investment-cash-funded retirement came about only in recent decades – particularly with the WWII generation. As times change economically, we will likely discover that to invest in a monocrop of financial assets alone was not adequately diversified nor wise. As with everything else in transitioning to the new economic operating system, we must broaden our horizons.
Family networks: For most of human history, up until a mere 2 to 3 generations ago, people lived in extended family units. Family was your “social security” system. This system reduced living expenses and made more efficient use of physical structures (shared housing), it handled elder care and child care, it was an integral part of skill sharing and the educational system (apprenticeships, oral histories), it reduced greenhouse gas emissions (no need for driving and airflights to “visit Grandma”), and it provided each generation with an extra set of hands for the tasks of daily living. Part of your “investment” for retirement may be to heal the separations between you and close family so that you have a Place where you are welcome.
Late life “career”: In the past, peoples’ senior years weren’t spent in idleness, consumerism, and travel; Grandma continued to knit and cook, Grandpa to build furniture and repair things. If the community of your retirement future had an active time bank, LETSystem, or gift culture, how might you participate? What might you be able to offer to your community, even into your senior years? How might you continue to be a producer? “Investment” toward your retirement may mean skilling up, and may mean volunteering now to help set up the local community’s bartering network so that it is active and vital when you need it.
Cash free investment: “In-kind contributions” is a familiar term to nonprofit organizations. This is when someone donates supplies or professional services rather than cash. Cash-free investment within the context of a Transition future might mean investment of your time rather than your cash. The good news is, you can do it even if you are cash-poor. By investing your time now in the many tasks of getting this transition moving, you create better security and stability for your own future.