Create a Personal Plan that Works

How do we keep our personal economy strong and contribute to the kind of world we want to live in? How do we walk the vital path of local sustainability in every part of our life—including work, investing and buying necessities? Mark Anielski, author of The Economics of Happiness: Building Genuine Wealth, explains five ways to take action that are worth exploring.


Move the majority of money reserves out of the stock market and into community banks that loan money in their neighborhoods.

Eliminate debts in order to have more discretionary income and ultimately, more time to pursue the things that make life worthwhile.


Join up with and pursue clients that are contributing to all of their stakeholders and the environment in positive ways.

Create a personal business plan with a goal of income sufficiency—having just enough income to meet the basic needs for a good life. Live with one vehicle, rather than two, and ride a bike to places where friends gather.


Get involved in community activities, such as participating in the local town council, neighborhood association and service groups.


Buy local whenever possible. Choose the local pharmacy instead of the big chain, the farmers’ market rather than a multi-state supermarket. Examine each purchase and consider its ramifications. Avoid buying clothes that need to be dry-cleaned and patronize green cleaners that do not use toxic chemicals.

Buy goods in the local economy, so that dollars remain in the community. Purchase from locally owned businesses that employ neighbors and other locals.

While material possessions and luxuries are nice, having too many means too much routine maintenance, fixing things and dusting. Once we’ve reached a “maintenance stage” of life, a time when most material needs have been realized, direct energy and funds to maintaining the integrity of the home (built capital). The payoff includes more time for passions outside of work and more time with friends, family and neighbors.


Offset part of the family’s ecological footprint by donating to organizations that supply clean power or plant trees. Assist the community’s poor and homeless by applying available time, talent and treasure.

Source: Adapted from The Economics of Happiness, by Mark Anielski.

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