Somehow we’ve entered the month of August. For many this means the end of summer vacations, the beginning of school, and the kickoff of fall sports. This rings true to me and my family, and additionally brings the planting of our fall garden. Last summer, I began my garden ‘experiment’ as I’ve come to refer it as. I grew up gardening with my dad and remembered it being a ‘fun and easy’ thing that we did together. I thought this would be a great hobby to start with my kids…and maybe talk them into eating a few extra vegetables if they grew them. To my surprise, I’ve realized just how much raising a garden and raising financially savvy kids are alike.
Our summer garden has had a bumper crop of cucumber…as in taking over and trying to suffocate every other plant. We’ve had to rip out the excess more than once this season to let the other plants grow. Just like pruning back in the garden, I prioritize talking to my kids about pruning the excess in our lives and living within our means. Considering they’re still young, this looks like discussing how different choices can affect their ability to do other things. For example, choosing to regularly eat out or buy a small toy adds up which could result in not getting to participate in a fun activity or camp.
We have had our fair share of visitors to the garden over the past year and a half. The deer and birds that we once loved seeing in our backyard have now become an enemy of our bell pepper and tomato plants. Luckily, we’ve installed a fence to keep the larger animals out as a safeguard. Similar to the layer of protection the fence adds to our plants, we’ve already begun to discuss the importance of saving money. Eventually this will develop into conversations of having an emergency fund saved should they ever lose a job or have an unexpected expense come up in adulthood.
As we approach the changing of seasons, we have already begun discussing the preparations needing to be made to the soil to accommodate a new garden and the reasons why. Just like creating a good foundation for a fruitful garden, creating a good financial base for your child takes hard work and lots of dedication. I began discussing money with our children young. This can be as simple as comparing how similar items cost different amounts at the grocery store or allowing them to make money doing chores to work towards a small purchase. As they get older, we’ll discuss different kinds of investment accounts and how compound interest works.
Soon my little gardeners and I will begin planning exactly what want to plant for the fall. I’ll try my best to explain that while H-E-B may have all produce year round, that doesn’t mean we’ll be able to grow it in South Texas. We’ll discuss what items we’d like to grow and approximately how long until harvesting. Then we’ll wait (im)patiently each day as we watch seeds turn into sprouts, sprouts into plants, then finally something we can actually eat. Any good CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ Professional turned gardening enthusiast knows, patience and planning for your goals is key not only in gardening, but for your finances as well. In a world full of instant gratification, I use the opportunity to teach my kids that just as it takes time for our garden to grow, so does your money. We’ll continue to have conversations that different financial goals require different amounts of hard work and focus. For now, it’s a new Hot Wheels track, but I know that today’s discussions will shape their dedication for saving for things like homes and retirement in the future.
Whether your new found hobby is gardening like mine, or it’s something else, I encourage you to look for opportunities in your day-to-day life to relate to your children about finances. Preparation is key to growing good roots. As always, reach out to a CFP® professional if you need more guidance along the way.
Sara Potts is a CFP® Professional and Lead Advisor with KMH Wealth Management, LLC.