There aren’t too many things better than a sunny afternoon in an apple orchard. The warmth of the sun, the smell of ripening fruit, the beauty and tranquility of the trees and the laughter and excitement of children all mix to create a special experience. But how is that like building a financial plan, you ask? Well, walk with me through the orchard and see if you don’t agree.
Apple orchards and financial plans both require intention, research, structure, attention, awareness of risk and patience.
Apple orchard: Any trip to the orchard requires a certain amount of preparation—proper attire (hint: flip flops are a bad idea), sturdy handle bags and enough cash to pay for your harvest.
Financial plan: Creating your plan begins with a decision to do so. It doesn’t just happen by accident; there must be a compelling reason and an intention to get your financial life in order.
Apple orchard: A trip to the orchard requires some research as to distance, accessibility, types of apples grown, hours of operation, etc.
Financial plan: Whether you’re a DIYer using a computer program or looking for professional help, you don’t want to proceed without knowing the qualifications, experience, and suitability of your resource. Without a clear understanding, you’re probably headed in the wrong direction.
Apple orchard: Structure is vital to a successful orchard. Someone directs cars; others sell bags, run hayrides, direct customers and weigh and price the collected goodies. Coordinating all this takes organization and structure.
Financial plan: Every plan has a structure—a beginning, middle and end. The process to collect, analyze and make recommendations is all part of creating a successful financial roadmap.
Apple orchard: Without attention paid to pollinating, feeding, pruning, insect control and watering, the chance of a successful crop is highly unlikely. Sometimes, mother nature needs a hand, and in this case, it’s not insignificant.
Financial plan: Let’s face it—the devil, as they say, is in the details. Without a careful eye and technical skills, the planner is unlikely to provide appropriate guidance.
Awareness of Risk:
Apple orchard: Risk is a huge area of concern. After all, little children, babies in strollers and others need to walk over uneven terrain. Climbing trees is a no-no, but try and keep kids off trees or out of harm’s way. As summer wanes and fruit left on the ground accumulates, slick footing is a concern along with not a few bees in search of their own bounty. Risks abound; be aware!
Financial plan: Even in the best of circumstances, risk plays a significant role in creating an appropriate plan. Risk is to be found in all areas, from investments to estate planning and taxes. In fact, risk exists in every area under financial consideration. The question is, how much can you stand? How can you control as much as possible?
Apple orchard: You might REALLY want a wonderful, crisp, juicy Macoun apple in July. You might even crave it. The fact is, though, it will be ready when it’s ready. You might be strolling through the orchard and imagine the taste of a baked Rome, but there’s a big sign in front of that section saying: Not Ripe-Keep Out! Well, you might be making a second trip when the Rome apples ripen.
Financial plan: You might want to see your plans come to fruition. You might want to see big gains racked up in your investments. However, time is necessary to bring your goals to reality. Careful, prudent patience is necessary.
As you walk through the pastoral scene, enjoy the sounds, smells and tastes that envelope the day. And as you drag your bags laden with fresh-picked fruit, consider how much preparation and care and attention has gone into your bounty. Now consider whether your financial life could use a little more of the same.