What a wonderful season so far for my herbs, peppers and tomatoes. And the carrots, beans, corn, squash and potatoes are coming up for harvest... is what I would be saying had I planned ahead with preparing my garden beds and sowing my seeds.
Last spring I dipped a toe into gardening, and with the exception of a few jalapeños it was a humbling experience. I learned from my mistakes, and planned to go big the next season. Though I felt motivated at the time, it is now officially summer and so far I have a three-year-old homemade compost pile; no raised garden beds, no fruits of my labor.
Past experiences in addition to missing out on a potentially bountiful harvest this year taught me valuable lessons that I can apply to my work in financial planning:
- Don’t delay - an elaborate garden is not required to start a tomato plant
- If you or your spouse earns an income, start contributing to a Roth IRA*. Depending on the firm, initial minimum funding requirements may be waived if you sign up for automatic saving (monthly minimums vary by firm).
- Does your employer offer a retirement plan? Contribute. Especially if they match the money you put in. That’s like buying seeds and receiving extra for free.
- Plant foods together that complement one another
- Build a portfolio of assets that together may thrive like the “three sisters,” corn, beans, and squash. The corn supports the beans which supply nitrogen to the soil, while the squash leaves shade the soil and prevent weeds.
- Reinvest interest and dividends just as you would save seeds from your harvest for future sowing.
- Feed your community and mentor your neighbors
- Research suggests that giving may lead to happiness. Give what you can whether its food, knowledge, time, or money.
- Seek out organizations that make your heart smile, and give generously.
- Reward your efforts
- What’s better than preparing a meal with vegetables from your own backyard after months of hard work?
- Purchasing your dream car, traveling the world, remodeling your home, educating your children, and entering into a work-optional lifestyle after years of hard work.
Don’t wait for a sunny forecast to get your seeds in the ground; each passing day is potentially a missed opportunity toward a bountiful harvest. Volatility in financial markets can be discouraging, but remember the rain that spoils the afternoon hike also nourishes the garden.
Planning & Investment Associate
*For 2016, maximum Roth IRA contribution amounts are reduced if AGI is above $184k for married couples filing jointly; $117k for single filers; $0 for married couples filing separately. Eligibility to contribute is eliminated if AGI is above $194k for married couples filing jointly; $132k for single filers; $10k for married couples filing separately.