It would be easy to latch on to the imagery of the Spring season as a period of rebirth and renewal, and it wouldn’t be wrong. Many of the flowers beginning to bloom all around us are not only source of seasonal allergies, but they are also the beautiful beginning of the foods we eat that will be harvested later.
Spring is also a time of obstacles and challenges – “storms” – which were addressed in our previous blog post. Every season of life brings storms, but those early days (like our teens and early twenties) bring the heaviest rains that help nurture the person we become.
When it comes to Spring, people rarely think of it as a time of preparation. Our local garden centers come alive with new potted plants, flowers, seedlings, and seeds from March to June every year. Those seeds and seedlings are planted knowing that their best days are a few weeks or months away.
What does your financial spring look like?
Navigating storms, those obstacles that test us and give us the opportunity to grow in new directions, (like a flat tire, or a medical emergency) makes it easy to forget about our hopes for tomorrow – our seeds. Sometimes the seeds are not forgotten, but we just are not in a place where it is beneficial or useful to plant them. But Spring does not last forever. Any seeds that don’t get planted in time this year will have to wait. If the seeds are not planted, no flowers grow to be pollinated to be turned into fruit – if a person does not have the opportunity to invest in their hopes then there can be no reward or achievement: the dream remains a dream.
What seeds are you planting during your financial spring? A better question may be: “What do you hope to harvest?” A person who wishes to start their own business is going to prepare a different way than a person who aims to retire within the next three years.
Creating clear goals is the first step in developing a plan to achieve them. For example, if a person’s goal is to make spaghetti and meatballs there is a sequence of steps they should follow to have the desired result. A bowl of good spaghetti and meatballs is the goal – the final result, the fruit. Hunger (and a love for carbs) is the seed. Is the first step in making spaghetti and meatballs boiling the water? Is it forming the meatballs? Is it pulling the correctly sized pot out of the cabinet? The number of steps between “I’m hungry”, and a bowl of pasta can be as many or as few as a person needs. For many people, the process of cooking spaghetti may be relatively simple; it can be done almost intuitively, but oftentimes the more effort a person applies to the process the better the outcome is believed to be.
Many people consider making a bowl of spaghetti to be easy because they have seen a bowl of spaghetti before, they have eaten it, they know what they like and don’t like about it, and they know the basic processes of applying heat to food to make it edible.
But not many people have lived on a healthy fixed income in retirement before they reach retirement age. Not many people have experienced what it is like to be debt free since they were in their late teens or early twenties. If a person has never had spaghetti and meatballs how can they be expected to make a bowl of spaghetti and meatballs that tastes good?
The short answer: Follow a recipe you trust. What’s the recipe for healthy retirement? What’s the recipe for rebuilding credit? If there is a proven recipe for success that has been passed through the family – that’s great, but (just like most people’s cooking) even a little bit of assistance from a professional can make all the difference. Remember that Education Credit Union offers FREE financial counseling services to help you meet your financial goals like: planning for retirement, maximizing savings, or repairing credit.
Everyone has something to look forward to – a hope that they carry like a seed waiting for the right time to be planted. It is easy to get lost taking all the steps between planting and harvest, and storms can hurt as much as they help. A bountiful autumn only happens when a person does the work to prepare during the spring, and we are right here with you through every season.