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How Does Your Financial Garden Grow?

One of my favorite 4-H projects as a kid growing up in Marion County was the Seminole Garden Project.

Named after Seminole Feed Stores—which donated the supplies—and available to the first 50 4-Hers who registered, it provided everything you needed to grow a garden. The project reinforced math and reading skills, and was an excellent lesson in how diligence, patience and hard work may pay big dividends.

I was reminded of those lessons this spring when I became the crazy cat lady of vegetable gardening. Like my Aunt Gloria, who always has room in her heart for one more feline, I seemed able to make room for every vegetable seed I could get my hands on.

Things turned unconventional, quickly.

Cucumbers, carrots and collard greens filled my two raised beds. I quickly ran out of room and turned to our regular landscaping. I squeezed yellow squash and zucchini plants among daylilies and lantana in our front yard. Okra and broccoli went into bare spots left by dead shrubs along our property line. Tomatoes, Brussels sprouts and pumpkins took root below our living room window. I trained butternut squash and sweet potatoes to grow around gardenias and camellias.

Rainy season arrived, and the garden took off. I’ve resorted to twice-daily green bean picking because they’re coming in so fast. I’ve picked enough tomatoes to provide sauce for a year. I don’t love squash as much as I need to these days, judging by how much our plants have produced, but by golly, we grew it, so we’re eating it.

The fruits of our labor became so abundant I relearned how to preserve vegetables, thanks to an old book from my late mother-in-law and the proper equipment from my mom. We’ll enjoy the fruits of our labor long after this garden is gone.

Growing a Garden is Like Building a Retirement Fund

As I picked veggies recently, I was reminded of the similarities between gardening and investing. Investors “plant” hard-earned money into the recommended investments and pray that it grows. Some years are better than others. Just as I’ve managed to keep the bugs and diseases in check in my garden this go-’round, there are years when your investments are unharmed by the economy and political climate, and they grow like they’ve been given a big dose of fertilizer. Other years, it feels like your money simply survives but doesn’t thrive.

I’ve planted seeds, pulled weeds, and waited weeks to see the results of my efforts. Boy, isn’t that also the truth with investing?! I understand why clients look at me impatiently when I tell them to give us several years to see their investments catch up to their financial goals. Delayed gratification is tough.

I didn’t plant my garden in a single day. I went by the Farmer’s Almanac and planted items when the time was right. Unless you inherit large sums, you typically don’t accumulate all of your retirement funds in one day, either. You cultivate it over the years, you suffer setbacks when life happens, and you return to saving once you overcome the occasional roadblock.

I treasure my role in helping you tend your financial garden in the hope that when you reach retirement, together we have built something from which you can reap the benefits for the rest of your life. Happy gardening.

July 2023

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