The world, including the US, does not owe you a living. Or as Dave Ramsey would say, “You Are NOT Entitled To Anything“. If you dream to make a widget and insist that everyone must support you in your dream and insure that you make a full time living making that widget, then i fear you may be sorely disappointed. Especially, if your widget making imposes on others’ freedom and property rights.
There are very few, if any, financially successful people with no debt and have, or are building wealth, working only one job. Often the most successful have at least 2 or 3 other gigs on the side going. (Even Warren Buffet has several unrelated income streams going!) When you are in your teens, twenties, and even into thirties, you have energy, vision, and motivation that enable you to put in 10-16 hours a day, 6 days a week. This allows you to save, build equity, and work towards your dream job if you aren’t already doing that. When you are older and that energy level drops, hopefully those side gigs are the money invested which are then working for you rather than you working for it.
I recently wrote a blog which told of the near impossibility of a person to get into farming or ranching these days. This is largely due to the out of balance cost of land vs its productive value. However, it is not yet impossible to farm and build wealth – even without incurring massive debt! It may take longer, however. And, i know of absolutely no one – young or old, in the present or in the past- who can farm or ranch (or any other business for that matter) full time without some sort of side gig. Read stories of old timers – they were blacksmiths, carpenters, mechanics, traders, transportation specialists, suppliers; any skill they could put to use for pay was engaged. Wives farmed alongside their husbands, raised the children, and often had a couple side gigs as well. (Yes, i know that many women are farmers and ranchers, i am one, but also raised my own children, managed the household, and help with the farm.) It is the same today – if you want to farm (or start any business for that matter) you’d better put a sharp pencil to how you’ll put food on the table and a roof over your head. Don’t incur debt and make sure you have some savings. (a borrower is always slave to the lender). Operational farm debt is as bad as school loans. Debt for building a depreciating asset may be the worst of all! What if something happens to you? make sure you have plenty of life insurance! Liability, maintenance, disease, accident associated with buildings and machinery are expensive and ongoing. Once debt is incurred for a single purpose gadget, you have to keep it going or you may default or leave your family with a ball and chain which seldom adds value (it may actually devalue) to your property. Better yet, don’t go into debt.
Keep your paying job and save your money before you buy a single acre or cow or gadget. Many ranchers today are leasing both land and cattle which can be a great way to get started with very little investment or risk. Best book i’ve read on this is Greg Judy’s book, No Risk Ranching. Maybe you won’t have the exact same opportunities that Greg has, but use your imagination – maybe you’ll have to move – as Allan Nation, founder and former editor of Stockman Grass Farmer, used to say, “Everyone has an unfair advantage.” Figure out yours and put your best foot forward.
Many farmers today still abide by the ways of Earl Butz to ‘get big or get out’ and we now have such an abundance and overproduction of all products that prices continue to slide. Yet, the mantra continues to be ‘produce more’ and use the economy of scale to maximise profits. That may good to a point, but the cost to the environment has been substantial by farming ‘fence row to fence row’ and with government subsidies now firmly entrenched there is less risk of a ‘failed crop’ resulting in going broke regardless of debt load or lack of wise financial planning.
I’m not espousing a return to farmers falling out due to the vagaries of weather, political machinations, or burdensome regulations. Without subsidies, food, fiber, energy prices could soar to the level of parity and the consumer would certainly cry ‘foul’. But, we all must remember that the economic rule of supply and demand may cause us to consider better management practices.
There is the concept of focusing on profit rather than production. If it is possible to make more money producing 120 bushel corn to the acre rather than 200 bushels to the acre, would that be something to consider? what is the cost to the land and quality of life to produce 200 and even 300 bushels to the acre? Can i do a better job of regenerating and improving the soil i have to increase pounds, bushels per acre and lower cost as well? There are a lot of opportunities and new/old practices to learn – the hard part is keeping it simple and CHANGE! This is a head issue – don’t be a stiff necked people.
Speaking of quality of life – how have you organised your dream? does it enhance and edify others? or detract from the lives of others? is it sustainable? is it regenerative? can you keep doing this for the next 60 years? If not, it’s not sustainable and you had better have a plan in place for the future, less strong, less energetic you. Will your model rely on unpaid labor of yourself or your family?
1 My son, if you have put up security for your neighbor, have given your pledge for a stranger, if you are snared in the words of your mouth, caught in the words of your mouth, then do this, my son, and save yourself, for you have come into the hand of your neighbor: go, hasten, and plead urgently with your neighbor. Give your eyes no sleep and your eyelids no slumber; save yourself like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter,like a bird from the hand of the fowler. Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise. Without having any chief, officer, or ruler, she prepares her bread in summer and gathers her food in harvest. How long will you lie there, O sluggard? When will you arise from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want like an armed man. A worthless person, a wicked man, goes about with crooked speech, winks with his eyes, signals with his feet, points with his finger, with perverted heart devises evil, continually sowing discord; therefore calamity will come upon him suddenly; in a moment he will be broken beyond healing. There are six things that the LORD hates, seven that are an abomination to him:
haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.