There is something special about working in the garden in the summertime. The days are long and, here in Santa Cruz, CA, the cool foggy mornings are perfect for hard physical garden work and the sunny afternoons help everything grow and bloom.
Last fall, one of my children build me some raised garden beds, lined them with wire and filled them with soil. The hard part complete, I had fun choosing, planting and tending some fine cool weather veggies, a fabulous harvest! When springtime arrived, I pulled up the bolting kale and bok choy and quickly replaced it with chard, squash and tomatoes. After a couple of weeks, the plants did not look so good. I realized I had skipped the step of adding compost to the beds between plantings. My second crop was suffering due to my haste. Luckily, gardens are forgiving and I was able to remedy the situation and now soon look forward to a delicious summer bounty.
Gardening and financial planning have a few things in common. In developing a financial plan, it is important to lay the groundwork, build a strong foundation, tend it along the way and try not to skip any steps. Also like gardening, if mistakes are made, or things get neglected, there are ways to bring things around.
Laying a good foundation in a garden involves making sure your soil is well nourished and well tilled. In a financial plan, it is important to take the time to examine your current situation so that you can set realistic goals and prioritize your actions. Once you know where you are at, financially, it can be easier to see where you want to go and start to define the steps needed to get there. If I want my watermelon seeds to sprout, I need to remember to water them. If I want to save for a vacation, I need to remember to put that money aside and watch what I spend.
Seedlings are not as sturdy as established plants, so there is more at stake with neglecting them. Similarly, new financial habits take care and attention before they can become routine. A new saving or cash flow monitoring routine requires regular attention at first. Over time, like the established veggie garden, you will be able to reap the fruits of your well tended financial garden and look forward to the next season.
Jennipher Lommen is a Certified Financial Planner TM and Enrolled Agent who offers comprehensive financial planning and tax advice to clients in Santa Cruz, CA and beyond.