How to Bounce Back After Blowing Your Budget

How to Bounce Back After Blowing Your Budget

Nothing keeps you up at night like knowing you’ve tanked your budget for the month (or more) and set your cash flow back. I’m here to tell you from experience that going over budget happens to the best of us, and that life goes on. I’m a better man today because I survived to tell the tale.

Whether you treated yourself to some irresistible shiny objects, got duped into overpaying for something you didn’t need, or just had a run-of-the-mill emergency that cost you an arm and a leg, we’ve all been there. The trick is to not get down on yourself about it, learn from the situation, and make a plan to do better next time.

Here are three steps to bouncing back after you’ve tanked your budget and are feeling like you’ll never recoup your losses.

1. Beating Yourself Up Won’t Help

Even if this setback was 100% your fault and could have been avoided, it won’t do any good to beat yourself up about it. I know that’s a tall order for most of us hardworking folks, but it’s true. Actually, psychology and most religions tell us that the opposite is true: when we are kind to ourselves about our mistakes, we are able to fix the situation easier than when we’re not.

This is easier said than done. We all have a predisposition to criticizing ourselves because we humans need to learn from our mistakes in order to survive, but now that dangers are relatively minimal, the inner critic has become a bit overbearing. The more we recognize our inner critic’s voice, the easier it is to flip the conversation. Sometimes it helps to name your inner critic so you can tell it to be quiet. It also helps to start your day with a list of things you appreciate about yourself and/or a list of your accomplishments.

Que Sera Sera: whatever will be will be! And the sooner you accept that fact, the sooner you can get back up on your horse and keep working toward your goals.

2. Making a Plan and Having Goals Will Help

If you’ve recognized that you blew your budget, chances are that you had a plan at some point and things just didn’t go according to it. So, it’s probably time to reassess. What happened that led to the blown budget? Is there anything you can do to avoid that in the future? (Like having the right insurance policies in place!) How much did you blow your budget by? Did you have to borrow or use credit? Do you need to adjust your budget going forward?

Then figure out how much more money it will take per month for how many months in order to get yourself back to where you started. Are there ways you can reduce your spending in the meantime? Or earn extra money somehow? Can you have a barn sale or put up a produce stand on the side of the road? Can you sell off a part of your business that doesn’t make much money and takes a whole bunch of your time and energy? Host a plough wash? Enter a baking or eating contest or throw one yourself?

Get creative! Ask your friends and family for ideas or host a brainstorm. I bet you end up with some great ideas.

3. Commit to Your Plan 100%

You’ve heard the old adage, “anything worth doing is worth giving 100%.” It doesn’t have to be forever, but if you can commit yourself to just 30 days of radical frugality, you’ll be surprised how much of a dent you can make in that debt. Maybe it’ll take 60 or 90 days. Whatever is needed, resolve yourself to stick it out.

Hold yourself accountable by sharing your plan with a trusted advisor, whoever that may be, and check in with them on your progress. Challenge a colleague to a savings contest to motivate yourself even further. Keep track of your progress, no matter how small it may seem. Again, this may be a lot harder than it sounds, but if you have faith in yourself and you rally your closest confidants to cheer you on and help you out, you can get through it.

The bottom line is: don’t let your financial failure get you down. It’s only temporary and I believe everything happens for a reason. You may not understand the reason until decades later, but I bet you will be thankful for this experience someday.

3 Tips to Sleep Better and 3 Reasons You’ll Be Glad You Do

3 Tips to Sleep Better and 3 Reasons You’ll Be Glad You Do

Farming is known for being an around-the-clock job. With early mornings, time-sensitive work, and hours of manual labor, quality rest is necessary to complete work efficiently and safely. From losing focus at the wheel to drifting attention when operating heavy machinery, there have been too many times where I’ve seen a lack of sleep lead a hardworking farmer to a harmful and threatening situation. 

Apart from avoiding the many downsides of not getting enough good sleep, there are real, tangible benefits to improving your sleep habits.

3 Ways Better Sleep Can Benefit You and Your Crops:

1. Sleep can improve your concentration and productivity. Being well-rested can help you stay focused during the day and get more done in a shorter amount of time. 

2. Good sleep can improve your physical performance. If you are spending hours harvesting crops or working with livestock, being physically alert is necessary to work efficiently.

3. Sleep supports immune health and keeps you from getting sick. As a small business owner, getting sick is not an option for me because I can rarely afford to take time off–I’m sure you can relate. Take precautions and get your rest before it’s forced upon you by illness.

The list of good sleep benefits goes on! Check out some more benefits of relaxing your mind getting better sleep here

As an independent crop insurance agent, my number one priority is the well-being of my farmers and their crops. My goal is to help my farmers sleep better by knowing they have protection from causes outside their control. I believe in the power of a good night’s rest to help my farmers do their work to the best of their ability. While I’m not a doctor, over the years, I’ve come by a few helpful tricks to sleep better each night, and I hope they’ll help you too.

3 Tips and Tricks to Sleep Better:

1. Keep a stable sleep pattern regardless of weeknight or weekend night. As farming often doesn’t stop on the weekends, I’ve found this is often an easier trick for my farmers, but a reminder to keep to a schedule and support your body’s internal clock is always helpful.

2. Limit your caffeine and alcohol at night. This one can be tricky, especially on the weekends. Letting yourself cheat every once in a while is okay. However, if you know you have a long day of driving heavy machinery ahead of you or working with potentially dangerous tools, take a break from your favorite beverages. Doing so can help you keep your brain from becoming overstimulated and having a restless night. 

3. Take a break from technology. Avoid looking at emails and social media before bed. Not only can the bright screens interrupt your sleep patterns, but often the content you’re consuming, whether it’s work-related or not, can increase anxiety and make your mind more active when you are winding down. Save those things for the morning.

“Normal sleep” is different for everyone. Find out what other practices can help you sleep better at night and feel well-rested in the morning here.

Bonus tip! If you worry about your crops being damaged by unforeseen disasters, make sure you have a good insurance plan in place. This anxiety can be a major factor in your sleep whether you realize it or not!

If you are looking to rest easy knowing that all your hard work and investment (your crop) is safe, get in touch with us today to learn how we can help!

Foust Prater, Lisa. “The Dangers of Sleep Deprivation.” SuccessfulFarming, SuccessfulFarming, 27 Dec. 2019, www.agriculture.com/family/health-safety/the-dangers-of-sleep-deprivation.

Covid and Cows: The Pandemic’s Impacts on the Dairy Industry

Covid and Cows: The Pandemic’s Impacts on the Dairy Industry

Working in insurance has been a lesson in preparing for the worst while hoping for the best. I want my farmers to find success and get the most out of their yield, regardless of what nature throws their way. Covid-19 was the impact none of us saw coming and another lesson on what it means to prepare for the worst. As the pandemic began, I quickly noticed its effects on farming within the dairy industry. Dairy farming needs to move fast due to the nature of the product, but labor shortages and low demand stopped farmers in their tracks. All of my farmers had to adjust for the pandemic, but impacts on the dairy industry came quickly and hard.

Here’s how the pandemic was able to impact the multi billion-dollar industry:

Schools, restaurants, and hotels shut down during the pandemic, and major dairy clients no longer needed dairy products. Unlike other farmers that can freeze or store their yield, milk can only be stored in a cold silo or vat for up to 48 hours before it must be moved to the next facility to be pasteurized and homogenized. The brief shelf life and perishable nature of the product led dairy farmers to lose profits on large amounts of their yield. While other farming industries, such as meat, could not keep up with demand during the pandemic as shoppers frantically purchased large quantities to freeze for the uncertain months ahead, the short shelf life of most dairy products negatively impacted consumer demand. With fewer workers and initially lower demand, milk was spoiled and dumped.

As sales shifted from schools and restaurants to larger purchases from retailers, packaging and distribution problems arose. Demand for employment in shipping grew across the board with the pandemic, and like many industries, dairy did not have enough people to ship the amount of product they had to send to retailers. Even as demand grew for retailers, the inability to efficiently distribute the time-sensitive product resulted in more milk dumped. Supply chain difficulties ultimately led to increased production costs. 

If I have learned anything from Covid-19, it’s that you can never be too prepared. Take action to protect your assets before you even see a problem because you never know what might happen and how it will affect you. 

Whether your crop could face a loss of labor or markets or impacts on yield, a crop insurance agent can help you decide what insurance is best for your needs. Don’t grow restless over what could happen. We are here to make sure you get the highest return possible and help you sleep better at night! Contact us today to see how you can protect your crops from the unforeseeable. 

5 Ways We Build Trust With Farmers

5 Ways We Build Trust With Farmers

Trust is a deeply important part of our business. Every sales agent in every industry knows this. But building trust is a little different with farmers. They will not give you the time of day until they trust you. It could take a year, two years, maybe even five years. Many agents won’t keep at it year after year–we will. Building trust is a must.

Here are the 5 ways we build trust with farmers:

1. Know your products. Know them inside and out. You can fake confidence; you can’t fake knowledge. And don’t just know your products as an industry insider, but know how to explain them to a customer who is coming to you with their livelihood and is scared they’re going to be swindled. Know how to describe your product in their language and figure out ways to show how it’ll benefit their farm.

2. Respond promptly.Time is money, so don’t waste your farmer’s time. If you miss a call or an email, get back to them right away, especially if your farmer has questions. The quicker you get back to them, the more they’ll learn you care about their questions. If you consistently offer instant feedback, you’ll build trust.

3. Branch out. You build trust by letting farmers know about programs that are beneficial to them, even if it’s not a program you offer. It’s the old philosophy from “Miracle on 34th Street” (one of my favorite Christmas movies), but it still rings true . . . and it works. Do what’s best for your clients by finding them deals and discounts offered by other organizations.

4. Visit in person.Go out and see them face to face. It lets them know you care about them, not just the money they make. Some farmers have insurance agents they only know by mail or phone. You can grow comfortable in a relationship like that, but you’re not building trust. Typically, I try to visit my farmers at least once a year. Even though I live in Michigan, I have a farmer in Pennsylvania I see about three times a year. There’s no excuse to never visit your clients.

5. Never say “there’s nothing I can do.”Get that phrase out of your head. As an experienced sales agent, I’ve been trained my whole life to never say the sentence “there’s nothing I can do.” I’ve gotten so many new farmers who’ve left agents that told them that phrase. Yes, there may come a time when you can’t deliver the precise expectation your farmer is demanding, but that still doesn’t mean there’s nothing you can do. You can give that farmer options for what they can do next time, or you can help them figure out a new plan, or you can call the insurance company and let them listen to the call. You can’t always do everything, but you should never say you’ll do nothing.

At the end of the day, it’s always about the farmer. Like any business, if you’re in business just to make money, you won’t be in business for long, nor should you be. If you’re trying to sell to make a client’s life better, you’ll be successful, and the farmers of our country will be better off.

How Crop Hail Insurance Saved an Ohio Apple Farmer from Ruin

How Crop Hail Insurance Saved an Ohio Apple Farmer from Ruin

I hear it all the time: “Why bother spending money on crop hail insurance I might never need to use?”

Let me answer that question with a little real-life story, a parable about why crop hail insurance matters.

About five years ago, I met a new client, a nice young guy who was just starting out as a farmer. He had a beautiful apple orchard in Ohio. Over the years, we kept bumping into each other at trade shows, until one year he finally asked me to help him with insurance. He’d never had farming insurance ever, not once in his life, you see, and his county didn’t qualify for multi-peril insurance. So, I signed him up and got him crop hail insurance to keep his apples safe just in case disaster ever hit.

And then it did.

Only a few months after he signed, that nice young farmer was smashed by the mother of all hail storms. The storm wiped him out, completely destroying his orchard. It was a 100 % loss. To a new farmer, a total loss can be career-ending. Thankfully, he’d been responsible and gotten hail insurance. His crop hail insurance bill was only $800. His savings ended up being $30,000. Not only was he able to survive that year, but the crop hail insurance enabled him to keep enough money to pay for all the fertilizer, chemicals, and labor he needed to farm again the next year.

Crop hail insurance literally saved that young farmer’s livelihood.

The storms will come. All experienced farmers know this. It’s not a question of “if.” It’s a question of “when.” And the farmers who survive are the ones who prepare.

<p”>So, prepare by insuring your crops and your farm, because you never know what year your storm will come. Crop hail insurance covers a lot more than just hail and can be a great option particularly in counties where multi-peril insurance is not available.</p”>

Contact us today to hear more real-life stories like this one and work with one of our independent agents to determine the best insurance plan for your business.