It’s spring! The days are getting longer, the sun is getting stronger, and the temperatures are rising. That means it will soon be time to put in my vegetable garden. I’m sure you are asking what the heck is the connection between gardening and your financial life. Let’s take a look at how the two blend together!
The Gardening Life
I grew up in Michigan and we had a massive one half acre garden along with 15 apple trees. Pretty much since I was conscious the garden and orchard were there and part of our family life. With a garden that size it was a family affair. My dad was the master planner and worked the layout of what to grow and where. There was much work to be done – roto-tilling in the spring, summer, and fall; planting; watering; tending and weeding; harvesting, cleaning out the garden at year end, and preparing for next season.
It was work – consistent quantity and constant frequency over the growing season. Despite my under my breathe mutterings back in the day, I can especially appreciate the “life lessons” benefits of that now as an adult.
We had an abundance of produce and pretty much grew everything – asparagus, strawberries, beans, peas, cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, lettuce, peppers, tomatoes, squash, pumpkins corn, popcorn, brussel sprouts, raspberries, onions, potatoes, zucchini, cucumbers, eggplant, and chard. Often it was more than one variety of each item. As an example, green beans, purple beans, yellow beans, and pole beans. To say the least…a lot going on!
Farm to Table and Then Some
I truly enjoyed the fresh from the garden eating that we did from spring to fall. We’d pick the goods right before dinner prep and within an hour we were eating it. Talk about farm to table! That was the real deal back then. We had so much that my mom canned, froze, and stored much for later consumption. That wasn’t even enough as there was more than we could consume! Wisely, my brothers and I got the entrepreneurial spirit and ran the “Wee Three Market”. We hauled a wagon with bins full of produce around the neighborhood and sold the excess to neighbors to happily enjoy the abundant and fresh produce.
Nowadays my garden is much simpler. I have two 4′ x 8′ raised beds along with separate space for tomatoes, beans, cucumbers, and zucchini. The scale may be different, but the process is the same. Planning, preparing the space, planting, watering, tending and weeding, harvesting, cleaning out, and preparing for next season. The regular work is the same as well. Just a lot less in quantity on a daily basis!
The Parallels of Gardening and Your Financial Life
How does gardening and your financial life tie together? The process and the regular work. Those two items together create the opportunity for the abundance.
The Financial Life Process:
Just like gardening on any scale, your financial life has a process at any income scale. In fact, many of the same steps.
- Planning and preparing the space – Knowing what you are seeking to accomplish through goal setting and budgeting.
- Planting – Taking the “seeds”, which in this case is your hard earned money, and investing your seeds.
- Watering – Obviously regular watering is important to healthy plants. It’s also important to healthy investments through regular saving and investing.
- Tending and weeding – It’s important to “tend and weed” your spending habits and behaviors allowing you to achieve your saving needs. As time progresses, we all have our good and not so good moments. Sometimes we need to nip the weeds in our habits to re-align with our long term goals.
- Harvesting – All the hard work deserves enjoyment along the way for what brings you fulfillment and satisfaction. As a complement to the moment and with all the abundance instead of canning, freezing, and storing or selling to neighbors you can build the stockpile toward your long run goals.
- Cleaning out – As much as we’d like to think that our investments are the best “ever”, they don’t always work out. It’s important to regularly clean up our investments for the long run. Sometimes we need to need to weed out things that didn’t work as we expected.
- Preparing for next season – It’s critical to step back and take stock of the big picture. Look back on what worked well and not so well in your financial life over the last year. What lessons did you learn? How can you adapt moving forward? Do you need to amend the soil by nourishing new income sources, more education, or changes in spending habits so you sustain yourself over time?
The Regular Work of Your Financial Life:
You can have the process but without the consistent and constant work things can quickly make a wrong turn. Therefore, it’s critical to keep an eye on the garden for the daily needs and fine tune adjustments. Maybe there’s no rain, the temperatures are up, the squirrels are feasting, or the weeds are taking hold. The same as your financial life. You have to adapt to the changing conditions. It’s being mindful of your goals and what you are trying to accomplish both in the short run and the long run. You have to put in the regular work of positive habits and behaviors and check in regularly on your financial matters.
Opportunity for Abundance:
When you bring the process and regular work together, you increase the chance of your long run success. You are taking charge of your financial practice. One final behavior: You also have to have patience and the long run mindset. In the garden sometimes it’s hard to notice any changes on a day by day basis. It seems as if nothing is happening and your frustration can pop up. “Why did I work so hard for nothing”. Well give it time. Seed packets estimate the days until harvest and investments for long term goals need decades before harvest. (Click here to read my blog on the Rule of 72 and the Importance of Investing Now.) Don’t let short term frustration with not seeing progress get in the way of the abundance that can come with time and patience.