The area in which I live is well known for growing tomatoes.  Roadside stands proliferate during the summer months brimming with the tasty red veggie. Many of them advertise their tomatoes as being from our county, although my guess is that a lot of them are knock-off tomatoes!  Yes, we’re tomato snobs.

Unfortunately, my personal garden is where tomato plants go to die. I’ve tried for years to grow them, without success. While I long for big, bushy plants, I end up with the tomato plant version of Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree.  Here is this year’s disaster:

learn financial planning

Nice work, Farmer John.

Fortunately, my black thumb doesn’t extend to every form of plant life.  I can grow grass!  I mean fescue, not the “medicinal” type. Not exactly a great resume item, I know, but it is reassuring to know that I’m not the Grim Reaper for all forms of vegetation.

Here’s part of my backyard as proof of my fescue prowess:

learn financial planning

That’s what I’m talking about!

So while I’m deadly in the garden, I’m killer in the yard, if you know what I mean.
So while I can’t grow tomatoes, I have learned to grow grass. Let’s take a quick look at my horticulture skills and how can we apply this knowledge to financial planning:

Lesson LearnedApplied to Growing GrassApplied to Personal Finance
Get the necessary knowledge firstUnderstanding your soil and climate is vital when selecting the type of grass to grow.  You also need to know when to seed, weed and fertilize.Understanding your personal goals and dreams is vital to keeping you heading toward the right target as you develop your financial and investing plan.
Get the right toolsAcquiring the right mower, rake, hoe, etc. makes the most effective use of your time, and yields the best results.The tools can be as simple as a spreadsheet or columnar pad, but having some way to track and document the execution of your plans is important.
Get your hands dirtyOnce you know what to grow and have the tools to do so, you have to break a sweat implementing the plan.Your finances won’t fix themselves, and your dreams won’t be reached by simply dreaming.  You have to do the work necessary to meet them.
Hire out as necessary or desiredSome things may be better left to the professionals.  Laying sod?  Re-grading the yard?  Hiring a pro may be the way to go for most of us.Need a financial coach to develop the plan?  Maybe you have a complicated tax situation?  Hire a pro.
Learn from mistakesEven the best laid plans can fail.  Applying too much fertilizer or lime can throw off the PH in the soil.  Also, some seed blends have too many weed seeds.  Don’t buy the same brand again and repeat the mistake.We all make a bad investment or purchasing decision from time to time.  Learn the lesson and vow to not repeat the mistake.
Stay vigilantWeeds can take over quickly.  Then it becomes much more costly and time intensive to fix the problem.Wandering investments or needless spending can infiltrate anyone’s budget.  “Set it and forget it” works for some things, but not for everything financial.
Pay attention to the detailsOnce I accidentally grabbed Roundup instead of weed killer and proceeded to wipe out a big section of the back yard before I realized my mistake.  Pay attention to the details!Sometimes you have to dive deep to make sure you understand all of the costs of an investment.  Or you need to have a good handle on how you’re spending your resources.  Don’t just look at the big picture; understand the details, too.
Give it timeThe germination and maturing of grass takes weeks.  Unless you’re going to lay sod, you need to allow lots of time.Building a retirement portfolio, or even an accurate monthly spending plan, takes time and, most likely, failure from time to time.  Allow yourself some time to perfect your budget, and for the wonders of compounding to work on your portfolio.
Enjoy the resultsAh!  Enjoy a barefoot walk in the grass.  Stop and have a seat, or even better, lie down on the green “carpet” and watch the passing clouds!Savor the fruits of your labor.  Take an extra vacation, a real first-class trip.  Maybe buy the dream car you’ve always wanted.  Retiring early to pursue your passions is pretty nice, too.

Like growing a nice looking lawn, building a successful financial life takes time, effort, proper tools and training, and vigilance. Neither will happen overnight, but the results make it all worthwhile!

Now if I could just learn how to grow a tomato plant…

1 Comment
Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Nathalie Belanger
Jul 11, 2016 12:54 pm

What an amazing article…Really helpful and also delivers a meaningful message