Money is the thing few want to talk about and yet everyone is obsessed with. It is topic of discussion in politics, in holidays and in life. Who has it. Who doesn’t. How do we get more of it. Few things about how to use it better. Make money work for you rather than the other way around.
Here’s ten considerations in changing your money dealings forever.
1. Transform your relationship to money. Instead of allowing money to control you, see it as a force you can control. Respect it, learn about debt and interest, savings, investments (and don’t see that as just conventional investments!).
Make better decisions about how and where your money goes. Dave Ramsey covers financial basics and shows people how to make that transformation, and many say it doesn’t work. In the Total Money Makeover he says “The thing that qualifies me most to teach about money is that I have done stupid with zeros on the end. I have been there, done that. I have a PhD in D-U-M-B…I know what it is like to have my marriage hanging by a thread because of financial stress. I know what it is like to have my hopes and dreams crushed by my own stupid decisions.”
2. Reduce your spending. Is there unnecessary expenses you can cut back on? This might be a coffee every morning on the way to work, cable or satellite television or movie theater excursions on the weekend. Have a budget and stick to it.Clearly define needs from wants.
3. Invest in education. If you can’t afford classes to improve yourself, “homeschool” yourself on the topic of choice with books. Don’t overlook things put on by local clubs. Search sites online to learn things. Perhaps you want to improve your marketing skills, or learn to identify trees. There’s even videos online to help with many topics at YouTube or Instructables.
4. Create a barter network, or participate in an existing one! Informally with friends it’s easy to exchange services and goods. Perhaps you need babysitting services, and someone else needs what you do. Work out the details and it saves your cash for other things. There are many online barter networks as well.
5. Exercise to lift your spirits and get the body moving. This doesn’t have to be a gym membership. Dance, jump rope, bike ride or take a walk all can be a means to get moving without a great deal of money. Look at cans in the pantry for 1 and 2 pound weights. Be inventive! Taking a walk in the evening costs nothing.
6. Pay off debts sounds like a no-brainer. Everyone looks for the best deal then charges it, where you end up paying many times more for it! Get credit cards paid off, and work towards eliminating debt. The higher interest ones, if eliminated, puts money in your pocket! Pay off smaller ones and work at the others. Call overdue bills and see if you can negotiate a cashout settlement to get debts paid. What can you sell to put money towards the debt pay down?
7. Acquire experiences rather than things. Things wear out, break, get stolen and destroyed. Create memories. Take day trips rather than going to tourist traps where you buy things you don’t need. Look at how many momento shirts are in thrift store shelves – somewhere, someone paid good money for those.
8. Live under your means, and put some money away. Start small – a can with change for savings. Most of us don’t miss the change – and yet in time it can add up to $10-15 for an emergency item that can’t wait. A $3 latte every morning is $15 per week. This can be ‘extra money’ to go towards bills or savings.
9. Pay bills promptly to avoid late fees, shutoff notices and other fees. This can add up over time, and the quicker you get a handle on things, the less stress you’ll have to deal with. Think about a time when someone owed you money, or promised you something and it didn’t happen. It sets everything behind, and if people who promised to pay you don’t follow through then you can’t pay those you promised to pay. Strive to not be the one not following through.
10. Invest in you. Value yourself. This doesn’t mean being a bully or developing a superior attitude, but know that you have value. You have gifts and talents others don’t and are unique. Find a way to use that as an asset. Money matters can be serious, but step by step it can be handled. It takes time, yes. But most of us don’t need a new car every year, or every 3-5 years. Hang onto that reliable and paid off vehicle, and use the payment to attack other bills!
Work towards getting debt free this year. It’s an effort that’s worth it!
So often when the discussion of food production and farming comes up it seems a bad thing to discuss technology. We wouldn’t think of doing without electronic banking, cellular phones or ATMs. Going into the bank? How inefficient!
We have cars and appliances that notify us when maintenance is needed. We have technology surrounding us but when it comes to agriculture many don’t want farmers to use those same advances that allow efficiency.
In the late 1960s and into the 1970s it was a time of growth. From 70 acres of rolling hills were carved corn fields and hay fields. Alfalfa was planted on hills to hold the soil and prevent erosion, as well as giving a valuable crop for purebred cattle. The field too steep to cultivate was fenced for pasture, as well as a field in front that was divided naturally by a creek, making cultivation difficult.
The cattle herd evolved to registered Charolais cattle, where we learned hands on cow management and combining old ways that worked with new technology where it was appropriate. A state of the art Harvestore was constructed. This is a big blue silo that allowed feed storage out of the weather, and allowed feeding the herd at the touch of control buttons through augers and conveyors. The hay and corn was chopped and with machines handling the harvesting it meant we didn’t have to hire people to move as much hay in the summer, although some baled hay was always kept for emergencies or animals separated from the herd.
There was a dry lot built to house and contain the cattle. This allowed more efficient feeding. The cow trails through the fields grew over, and allowed a bigger harvest of feed. There were fewer times cattle would get loose, and it eliminated them getting into the corn field. It eliminated worrying about bloat, a dangerous medical condition for cattle.
If left to their own devices many cattle will stay fairly near the feeders, which can wear down the grass in the feeder area. By using a ‘dry lot’ situation that penned the cattle near feeders it allowed that natural behavior of minimum steps for feed and water, but did so in a way that the rest of the farm was more productive.
Today the cattle are gone from the farm, but the lessons in using technology wisely remain. When it makes sense to do so, technology and new ways can be a good thing. Today hogs and chickens are often kept in climate controlled barns. When the recent driving snow would kill animals or leave them shivering in the drifts, they’re inside barns at a steady, much warmer temperature!
Automatic temperature control, feed at regular times and balanced rations have taken raising livestock to new heights. It’s often criticized as being “factory farms” but confinement raising can be 30 head of cattle or thousands of hogs but the welfare of the animals is important.
When it comes to 20 below zero with driving snow or inside a barn I know where my chickens would be if faced with a choice. In the far south they can be outside without dealing with snow very often. In other parts of the country this isn’t the case, and it is important to put the animal’s comfort in front of political arguments.
Technology, instituted with a balanced view works for farmers, animals and consumers.
So often we hear how farmers should go to the way it used to be. I wonder how many remember what that was? It’s an ideal, and not far from what we are, but it’s far from what people want to buy. So we work harder.
Do people remember the truth or the picture?
By 1950, only 12 percent of the population was still on the farm. Each farmer was now producing enough food to sustain himself and 15 others, but there was still opportunity for improved efficiency through mechanization since horses still outnumbered tractors on the farm until 1954. Most farms had a variety of livestock including dairy, beef, hogs, chickens and sheep as a part of their operation.
The 1950s and 60s marked the beginning of change as many farmers began to specialize in order to increase efficiency and make maximum use of equipment and facilities. Dairy herds grew to 60 and, in some cases, to 100 or more cows. Swine numbers increased from five to 10 sows to as many as 100 or more. Artificial insemination became common place, and with improved genetics came an increase in milk production per cow in dairy herds. The introduction of the Hundred Bushel Corn Club inspired farmers to use not only more fertilizer but also better weed control practices to compete with neighbors. Corn production rapidly increased as a result.
The 1950s was a bit before my time but the late 1960s I remember. I remember grandparents pasture raising in the old stanchion barns 60-80 registered Brown Swiss. Outside the lot were pigs that took care of what the cows didn’t eat, and bad milk, when there was some. Calves were taken away but allowed to nurse out one quarter after the cow was milked. I don’t remember what happened to the bull calves. No chickens that I remember, but there was some beef raised and Boston terrier dogs provided farm income as well as a little horse training and trading.
I remember hogs used to glean fields after harvest, with distinctive fencing that showed where those fields were. I remember tractors getting bigger, machinery getting more powerful, horses getting fewer. I remember the cost of a Harvestore, although I didn’t know what that cost was, meant our beef cattle got more focus than more diversified places. And I remember hog breeders begging for support as consolidation increased. Those barns stand empty now, silent. Many were torn down.
I remember get bigger or get out slogans. I remember the farm crisis and the suicides of those who couldn’t bear losing the family farm. I remember the cautions about credit, and the peace of a paid for place, a full mow of hay and plenty of food and feed stocked up. I remember getting rabbits from someone in town with a small bank barn, with wire and wood hutches. Beautiful Dutch marked rabbits and white ‘meat rabbits’. I remember cautions not not completely specialize – keep some other sources available.
Those memories are mixed in with today’s reports and media headlines. It drives what we do, although some think we’re so easily swayed that an organization or dinner buying dinner or sending a trinket will alter what we do. Of course, those folks don’t know me well. Comparisons to mules have come up. Or pig headed. No book, dinner, check or goodie changes who we are and what we do. I’ve previewed several books, not always favorably! It still doesn’t change us.
You see, when it’s real, solid and you know who you are, the only change is deliberate, not everchanging. It’s a good thing.
I’ve touched on customer service in other posts. It’s too often in today’s world news when a person or a company wrongs someone. How about those that do a great job? The Dairy Queen worker who stepped up for a customer, for example, when another customer took advantage of the visually impaired customer.
This weekend, someone I know only as pepperseedman1971 on eBay warrants a tirade. If you can call it that. Recently I ordered two offerings from this person on eBay. I don’t buy much on eBay, partly because of the horrendous problems and partly because after, some time ago, ordering something that was never delivered and no refund it took a bite. Another issue with a seller a couple of years ago with a gift purchase didn’t help. I browse sometimes, am tempted sometimes, but pepperseedman1971 had an offering of seeds that I wanted. One was a superhot (which I have some in the ground now!) but another was a medium hot collection, with some different cayenne, pepperocinis and one called a lemon drop that production was mentioned. There were a few that noted production, and as we kick it up, production is an issue. In all it added over 30 types of peppers to the roster, and it will take some time to keep them straight!
The package arrived very quickly, and I looked at it briefly, set it aside and continued to deal with some other things. Late last week I picked it up to start some of the purple cayenne and lemon drop…only they weren’t in there. I looked through and started doing inventory…fully 9 of them weren’t in there, but there were four not on the list that was. I sent pepperseedman1971 a message, and got a message back which I found after church this morning. I rechecked the package…slip, on the desk, around the desk, on the floor. I scooted back and looked where Diva usually lays and…in the far corner of the desk on the floor…the light that time caught a small plastic bag. I fished it out and, sure enough, there were nine varieties that matched my list of missing things perfectly. Of course I sent a note apologizing profusely. My error completely! How to make up for the inconvenience? Call me a pepperholic.
I looked down his offering and ordered some sweet peppers! Thank you ebay seller pepperseedsman1971 for being awesome! Customer service is rewarded! It’s true!
I also had occasion, recently, to contact the Puckerbutt Pepper company, not with a problem but in passing. Another outstanding customer service moment. It’s so easy to get growly at negative…but how much do we say thank you and buy from these folks when it warrants? Not enough. As customers we think it’s taken for granted, they SHOULD be thankful we buy from them. We don’t operate that way – it might lead to more orders, but the best business with poor handling will fail. These two deserve to thrive. It will be a while before we’re offering seeds, as we’ll have peppers this year but will be saving back seeds for next year (and more peppers!). If you need pepper seeds, buy with confidence with these two sources.
The customer is not always right. Customers make mistakes too. It comes down to people and how we treat others…and connects to farms, business and beyond.
Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. Luke 17:3
Be willing to say I’m sorry. And forgive. One day it might be you needing to apologize because we’re all humanly imperfect.
When I say we combine technology with tradition, many question. Many don’t think we use *enough* technology! Having dipped barely a toe into the mobile world, I picked up the book The Mobile Mindshift off of NetGalley and have been both puzzled and challenged.
How can we use this technology? Many think agriculture is old fashioned and lags behind. Yea. Go start a new combine! Of course we don’t HAVE a new combine at SlowMoneyFarm, so much of the book was far, far above us. We don’t have thousands of people and hundreds of thousands of dollars (or millions!) to spend with software. But some great points were made in using technology already out there.
The major question for us is two fold. Using it – this morning I downloaded an insect guide on the notepad, easily taken out to the greenhouse or garden. I can see using solar with timers for turning lights on and off and the weather guide downloaded allows more weather information at the touch of a finger, literally!
So how do we at SlowMoneyFarm get a piece of this mobile mindshift? Well that could be a bit more problematic. We’re scrambling to come up with less than many spent on app development for land, seed and improvements. We’re excited about the imperfect place too wet to build on but *perfect* for growing with less irrigation. What does that mean?
Much to us but not if no one knows about us to buy from us does it? Back to the question – how do we get a piece of it? We could list (advertise) with other companies catering to small farms or alternatives like us. Instant, though, seems opposite of everything we do.
We plan, and when we put a pepper seed in the ground no internet application is going to make it grow faster than it’s going to grow. It won’t speed up the amount of time it takes for garden produce to grow so that it’s instantly available for mobile customers. So does that mean the time reading this book was a waste? Not at all! I know we need to be more mobile. I know that means money which we don’t have enough of as is. Key points is reaching people where they are – mostly far from us! It hones in on that customer in Nashville that we’re trying to find, who wants what we have but hasn’t met us yet.
True much of the Mobile Mindshift idea is above what we do – we’re not Delta or Starbucks or American Airlines. We can’t have someone say they’re on the way to pick up peppers that aren’t grown yet and have them ready for pickup when they drive in. But…it has the thought process started of what we CAN do.
Grass roots fashion, and with limited mobile at this point, I thought of reaching to our readers…how do we do this? If you’re a potential customer, how can we make it easier? If you’re another small farm – I’d say competitor but there’s enough folks out there for all of us! – how do you use mobile, or would you like to use mobile?
I know many of our larger ag friends turn on irrigation or other things with mobile technology. Agriculture doesn’t lag behind – but does have a different means of operation. I’m thinking personal but can’t be on 24/7. I’m thinking connecting heirlooms and meals. I’m thinking finding new ways to reach people.
The Mobile Mindshift is happening, and for all the advances it’s just beginning. Interesting points for all of agriculture…using it for all levels of agriculture is worth exploring. What do you think?