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What Can We Learn from Farmers about Financial Success and Discipline

We engage in countless activities in our day to day lives.  Of those activities, some require special focus and particular attention from us, such as getting a good job, investing for the future, starting a business to make more money or have more balance in life.

These are important activities that impact our lives, and ones that we put our all into.  Similarly, farmers sow seeds and harvest crop for a living.  These activities hold just as much importance to them, if not more.  There is no doubt they put their all into activities that impact their lives as well.

And although the lifestyles may be different, as well as the types of activities we engage in, there is an important overarching parallel between the farming lifestyle and one far from the farms.

A Farmer’s Life

A farmer relies on a good harvesting season to make a decent living. But long before harvesting season, a farmer first has to carefully source seeds and plantation. Poor decisions at the onset can affect the crops come harvesting season.

This is merely the beginning to a long road of irrigating, planting, watering or feeding, controlling pests, enduring weather, good or bad, and standing the ultimate test of time.  But it is only when all the work is put in that a farmer reaps the benefits from the seeds sown what seems like a long time ago.

What Do You and I Do?

Unless you are a farmer, you have likely been involved in at least one of the following: job searching, working, investing for retirement and starting a business.  This is not to say that farmers don’t invest. Many do.  I am simply highlighting some of the activities that tend to be on our high priority list.

When we search for jobs, we spend time preparing our resumes, taking job search classes, spending countless hours on the internet searching and applying, getting out there to meet people, networking, spending money preparing and sending letters, making phone calls and all kinds of other jazz.

When we finally get an employer’s interest, we drive miles way for interviews, spend money to ensure we look presentable, and spend more time following up on the interview.  Many times, we are rejected and we move on to the next until we find the right one.

When we invest, we spend time learning about our options, carefully investing in selected securities, and then follow up from time to time to ensure we are investing more over time, and that our investments are performing according to our expectations.

When they are not, it causes us unrest, and we start to think of ways to do better.  Decades down the road when we retire, we finally get to tap into our investments and the profits they’ve generated for us (if we live that long).

When starting a business, we spend countless hours researching, meeting people, talking to them, doing our home work and diligence just to make an offer on an existing one or start a new one.

Once we get started, we realize that there is a ton more work involved than what we had anticipated, and there goes more countless hours, dollars and frustration.  We put up with it because we know that at some point down the road our efforts and investment will start to pay-off dividends.

Time is Constant

Time is the constant in a farmer’s life, as well as in ours.  The underlying common theme in all of the scenarios above is starting early and longevity.

For any endeavor to be successful, it must be given ample time and attention.  I have seen several bad investments turned good over time.  I made one myself. I had purchased a property thinking it was a good deal, only to see the market tank and rents drop like flies.

As a result, I was forking out more money than bringing in.  My mortgage was more than rent I was collecting from my tenant.  But it’s ok. The pendulum started to swing the other way over time and the property was generating positive cash flow.

It sure took time, and a lot of attention.  I engaged in aggressive cost cutting measures such as securing my own private mortgage insurance (PMI) at a discount, challenging the appraisal value to lower my taxes, as well as refinance the property at a more favorable interest rate.

It’s amazing how the fundamental laws of the universe work universally across many disciplines in life.  The farming lesson definitely applies to our finances and our lives as well. Perhaps we can all learn a thing or two from those who have been doing it for centuries before us.

Sowing Seeds

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18 Responses to “What Can We Learn from Farmers about Financial Success and Discipline”

  1. krantcents says:

    We have more in common than we realize. That is one reason why we should have a career we enjoy and enjoy our lives.

    • Sunil says:

      True. Unfortunately very few can say they enjoy their careers. Most persevere in the grind within their industries/fields because of “bills to pay”.

  2. Farming is so much hard work! And you make a great point about how they have to start off right or the results will be poor. I’ve done a little gardening myself and have so much respect for people who grow their own food and so the whole compost thing. Takes a lot of planning and nurturing to have a fruitful harvest! -Sydney

    • Sunil says:

      Good to see you here Sydney. Very true on your point on lots of work to ensure a fruitful harvest. Certainly applies to someone wanting to break out of the “templated” lifestyle 😉

  3. I agree with your farmers analogy. Hard work is great but you should also try to better the way in which you do things. Great information… Thanks!

  4. Rochelle says:

    Great article. Love the comparison to a farmer. I enjoyed reading this. Look forward to more.

  5. Good analogies! The laws of economics apply equally to all domains of human activity and the same rules of hard work, investment and reaping what you sow apply.

  6. Drewry says:


    stop by your blog for the first time online in checking you out. I like the look, structure of your blog, and the feel of it. Keep up the good work on the blog and your content as well :-)

  7. Michelle says:

    great new lesson for me.

  8. Dr Dean says:

    Living in a farming community, many of my best friends are farmers. They do work hard. The successful ones learn to prepare for the bad years.

    Whether it’s bad weather or poor commodity prices, the good ones are prepared for the down years by saving during the good years. The good ones also learn to not follow the crowd, as over planting by too many farmers results in lower market prices.for all.

  9. Lenny says:

    I’ve learned from Anthony Robbins seminar that self discipline is one of the basic value that you must have to be able to achieve success. Every farmer has to master this value to get through their everyday life. No matter how bad the season is, they are still able to have the money for their crops and their families.

    • Sunil says:

      good underlying point Lenny. we all have discipline, but just focused on different things. like you said, perhaps we need to shift focus

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