Money and nature are connected in a myriad of ways but today I will concentrate on three specific links between the two topics. As a Financial Educator/Money Coach and a Pollinator Gardener, I witness these connections daily.
1. The Foundation
A garden must have healthy soil as a base to grow and be well. Healthy soil is soil without pesticides, herbicides, insecticides, or toxic fertilizers. Mother Nature is amazingly capable of growth when we do not work against her by creating imbalance.
When we kill insects that are necessary components of healthy soil, we are injuring the entire foundation of the garden. Often people are frightened or indifferent about that which they do not know or totally understand. This fear and indifference can cause harm, sometimes great harm.
My friend, neighbor, and mentor, Mary Benton the founder of the nonprofit organization, Bound by Beauty, is an extraordinary pollinator gardener and advocate of nature. Mary was with me one day, helping me identify a caterpillar in my garden. Mary said, “Susan, we are empirical scientists.”
Mary’s comment so resonated with me. Yes, Mary, we are gaining knowledge through observation and experience, not just through theory or pure logic. How exciting and full of magic!
A monthly budget is the foundation of getting on the path to Financial Wellness and ultimately, Financial Freedom. If you do not know where your money is going- it will leave you. A monthly budget makes you accountable to you. I find that highly empowering. I get to control my money, not the other way around.
Budgeting sometimes gets a bad rap. As someone who lives by her monthly budget, I can tell you with certainty, a budget is game changing. Yes, it takes a little time to set up and work a budget, but here’s the spoiler alert- a budget actually saves you time! Also, once you make it a habit, it takes less and less time and makes more and more sense.
You no longer need to guess if you are living above, below, or within you means, with a monthly budget you will know. Maybe at first you think that you do not really want to know as it will stress you out! Once you know the truth about your money situation, it will begin to reduce stress and get you solution based.
If you are overspending and likely going into debt, it is going to cause you additional stress and worry and waste so much of your time and energy. Also, it can hurt your ever precious credit score. A monthly budget is one of the building blocks of your financial house.
In April 2018, when I first started my front yard pollinator garden, it was beautiful for certain, but all the plants were so small. My incredible landscaper James and I laid out the design of my garden before he began planting. James told me to remember to make room for growth.
What a beautiful concept- make room for growth. When I look at my garden photos from April 2018, it is hard to believe just how much growth has occurred- it is completely magical. I have created a pollinator sanctuary and it has benefitted me as much as it has benefited the pollinators. It is a win/win on so many levels.
Oh, and growth has a way of building on itself. My pollinator garden has expanded to my back yard where I have the beginnings of native woods and a native meadow. On any given day I have seven or more species of butterflies fluttering around my garden, birds chirping, bees buzzing, and ladybugs and dragonflies making appearances. It is so joyful!
Growth in money matters is also very important. Money also has a way of building on itself- money makes money. One of the magical money concepts is compound interest.
Compound interest is interest calculated on the principal balance plus the interest accumulated. Wow! Now, as a reminder compound interest is magical when you are investing but compound interest on a loan or debt, is not so magical. You are paying interest on the principal amount and the interest accumulated.
For the purposes of investments and growth, let’s use an example of compound interest:
- 💵 Your initial deposit is $200
- 💵 You add $100 a month
- 💵 For 10 years
- 💵 Estimated Rate of Return of 5%
- 💵 Compounded Monthly
At the end of 10 years you will have: $15,858. Without the compounding interest you would have $12,200. The difference of $3,658 is free money! Seriously, compound interest is one of the “secrets” to building wealth. You can use the Nerdwallet compound interest calculator to play with different amounts, interest rates, and time frames.
Another “secret” is to automate your investments. When you automate them, you stop finding reasons to not invest your money. I automated my investments from the time I was 23 years old- they came directly out of my paycheck. I never saw the money, I did not miss it, and I created wealth. That’s the beauty of compound interest!
When I am in nature, I feel free. I am a witness to creation in action. When I do my part to help nature thrive, starting in my own garden, I feel renewed. We all can do our part to help nature thrive. If we all work together, the benefits to the planet and all the beautiful creatures that inhabit it, including us, is exponential.
Another Mary Benton quote, “When you nurture nature, nature nutures you.” I know this to be one of the great truths.
Being financially responsible creates financial freedom. I started out poor (in monetary terms) but knew at an early age I did not want to continue being poor. I saw that money infused everything in life and the lack of money created stress and worry.
No, money does not buy happiness, but being secure and responsible in money matter gives you the space and freedom to live the life you choose.
Susan Howell, The MoneyMaestra