“It is only the farmer who faithfully plants seeds in the spring, who reaps a harvest in the Autumn.” –B.C. Forbes
I work in the agricultural industry, so I have the privilege of spending a lot of time with farmers. Every farmer I’ve ever met has imparted some sort of wisdom to me.
My favorite farmer and one I grew up with was my Great Uncle Carl. He was a farmer in a small Illinois town who grew crops and had one of the last outdoor pig farms in the state.
I fondly remember visiting his farm as a little kid and going on adventures with my siblings and cousins in the hay barn or through the woods.
One thing I seemed to always pick up on while visiting Uncle Carl was his apparent affinity to financial wisdom. He was a smart guy who worked hard, but looking back, I believe he learned much of his money keenness from the School of Hard Knocks.
You see, my Uncle Carl would often tell us how he would warm up milk bottles at 2:00 AM to feed the calves or help a pig give birth in the middle of the night and then save the piglets from freezing by keeping them in his basement. You wouldn’t think it by looking at his house (which was always a little awry), his clothes (never new), or his vehicles (always a few model years old), but my Uncle Carl was very well off financially. By the time he passed away a few years ago he had done very well for himself. From my observations, this was a result of hard work combined with common sense money wisdom.
Below I share some tidbits of money wisdom that I learned from my Uncle Carl and the many farmers I am blessed to interact with every day.
People who wear bib overalls likely have more wealth than those who wear Rolex watches.
You’ve probably heard it said, “Never judge a book by its cover.” Often in American culture, those who have the latest clothes and newest cars are in debt up to their eyeballs. Most farmers I interact with are never flashy as they have learned that things like clothes or cars don’t make you money. The best way to be broke for your entire life is to buy new things to impress people you don’t really care about.
Most farmers don’t have a lot of crap. Often farmers reuse and recycle many things the rest of us just throw away and buy new. For instance, many farmers have a collection of old gallon milk jugs out back to use to protect small tomato plants in the garden. Speaking of gardening, many farmers produce vegetables/meat/eggs in their backyards which greatly reduces the amount of money they spend on groceries. This comes with the added benefit of healthy eating that tastes so good!
Avoid needless debt.
The typical farmer pays for almost everything in cash. I remember being at a swap meet when I was younger and watching a farmer pull out a huge roll of cash to pay for a significant purchase. Farmers realize that when you finance something, you pay much more than the sticker price by the time it’s actually yours. Additionally, when you pay with cash, you have the ability to barter for a lower price. The art of bartering is lost to a whole generation of Americans. Put simply, paying in cash and avoiding debt gives you the power to build wealth.
You harvest what you sow.
You have to plant seeds and nourish your plants in order to have a bountiful harvest. This is where investments come in. If you are spending your entire paycheck to pay off debt and finance that brand new car, you’re left with nothing to invest for the future. A farmer knows that you have to plant the money seeds and give your investments time to grow. This is the simple trick of becoming wealthy.
Never put all your eggs in one basket. This is a saying I hear often from farmers, and the wisdom within this saying is stunning. Farmers diversify by having many different investments. My Uncle Carl for example had a pig and cattle business, crop business, hay business, land investments, and stock market investments. When you are diversified, you are able to ride fluctuations. For example, one year he could sell hogs for a lot of money but the commodity price of crops was very low. Thus some investments would flourish while others struggled, and then they would swap the next year. Similarly, you need to have diverse investments such as mutual funds, a house, and a constantly increasing skill set that can help you increase your income.
Hard Work/Little Sleep.
Life is a grind. Farmers know this better than most. If you truly want to be successful you have to sacrifice something now, in order to have anything later. Some people have to work two jobs to become debt free. You may have to put off having cable TV for a year so that you can put some money in mutual funds. You may have to drive a clunker so that you can get through school with little or no debt. If you work hard now, you can have financial freedom later.
Do you have any financial advice to add to the conversation? Share in the comments section below!
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