Mother’s day is less than a week away, but you still have time to get her the book she needs. I have done a lot of work this winter with women and money seminars and “Who gets the farm and when ?” sessions with farm families.

Here’s what I have observed:

People are overwhelmed by the complexity of succession planning and they don’t know where to start.

Finances are a major barrier, especially  people’s fear of the income stream after farm transitions, not being enough to meet the lifestyle plan for the next 2 decades.

Farm folks who have ploughed all of their financial resources back into the farm asset bubble may not have put any funds into what Alberta’s Merle Good calls the “personal wealth bubble.” Folks with a personal wealth bubble have more flexibility in planning for the successor’s needs since they don’t need all their lifestyle income from the farm cash flow.

Women are likely to be widows , the average age of a widow in Canada is 56, and many women don’t have the money savvy they need to live the life they desire.

It’s time for your mom, wife, spouse,  and  friends to get smart about their personal finances. It’s time to address your hurdles and excuses for not getting a handle on your personal wealth and debt.

I also see folks in farm debt mediation who have  tried to save the family farm with personal credit cards, and that too is a recipe for disaster.

So now that you are totally depressed reading this, what next?

Buy this book: “Moolala…why smart people do dumb things with their money (and what you can do about it.)” by Bruce Sellery. You can go to and check out the contents of the book. I met Bruce at a speaker conference and we’ve become good friends because his approach is fun, his checklists are workable, and his mission is aligned with mine. We both want farm families to enjoy financial success and have the life they desire.

May on the prairies this year is going to be interesting. Some of you are reading this and would much rather be out in the fields seeding, but you are still waiting. Why not attack your financial goals, and get your money mess out of chaos?

Sellery has a simple 5 step approach:

1.Lay the foundation. Here you discover what money means to you, and your context for money. You’ll also have to get real about the consequences of not addressing your weaknesses. For instance, some farms are suffering from folks seeking “retail therapy” rather than resolving conflicts. They are feeding their souls with shopping rather than having crucial conversations. Some farm guys are trying to have “more than the neighbours” rather than work out a plan that suits their family’s needs, and be careful about the “wants.”

2. Determine what you want. Most farm folks I coach want a happy family and a secure life after they transition the farm. Most farmers are NOT going to retire, so I call that plan a “lifestyle plan” where they learn how their roles are going to change to “be the hired man again” and the spouse will have a new place to live. I did not say a “new monster dream home”, although that may be the desire. When the numbers get crunched, the reality of the dreams and goals get into closer alignment.

3. Develop the plan. Knowing what you want drives a plan to get you there. In 2010 I did a  clothing “fast” to see how I could allocate funds to charity instead. You might be willing to put up with aging cracked kitchen countertops and forego the granite make-over when you realize that you haven’t contributed $10,000 as a couple to your Tax Free Savings Account. I am still meeting folks on the farm who haven’t heard of this saving tool, and your accountant should have told you about it when you did your income tax last week !

What is your net worth today?  Sellery’s book comes with links to his website for many worksheets that will help you get this organized. I am sure your credit union or bank would help you out here also. Pay attention to your liabilities, and equity. Are you going in a positive or negative direction? You also need to address your weaknesses. Many farmers are in denial and won’t look at the numbers, hoping that their financial stress will just go away, along with the high water levels. We all need to face reality and determine where we are  at. Once you know your money issues, then you can prioritize your money goals. Servicing and decreasing debt is likely a high priority. Don’t forget to allocate some resources for fun and family well-being along the way.  Have an agronomist or farm management specialist help you assess your cash flow.

Are you earning more than you are spending? Keep track of family living income/expenses.

Have you eliminated credit card debt ?

Are you adding to your personal wealth bubble for your lifestyle plan when your successor is the main manager of the farm ?

Are you saving for your personal goals?

Are you taking advantage of RRSP, RESP, TFSA ?

Could you commit to 2 or 3 changes you will make to the way you spend ?

Do you have a financial advisor ?  Sellery’s book has some great tips about selecting an advisor to develop a trust relationship and monitor performance. Many folks I’ve met don’t have a financial planner. Your lending institution has one, or you can go to to find planners that care about agriculture, The Canadian Association of Farm Advisors. I belong to this group ,  and I like to have referrals that I can trust, based on the work and knowledge I’ve witnessed.

Some farm  women are taking training to invest, and some folks prefer to develop an investment plan with a broker. You want to learn to make money work for you !

4. TAKE ACTION. This is in big bold print, because “talk does not cook rice !” You can talk till the cows come home, but you need to put your financial plan into action, and  get a handle on your money.

5. Stay engaged. The process is never done. You can use annual reviews, the shake-up conversation you get in April with your accountant, and the conversations that keep coming back about money. Being smart with your money is an ongoing process, somewhat like succession planning.

Moolala  is a very funny effective book. I’ve bought a case to give to family , friends , and clients. Your book club or money group would find Moolala an excellent resource.

As a professional home economist I believe that families who have great money skills are happier families who enjoy an amazing quality of life. I want that for my family, and for yours.

Moms like flowers and chocolates, but this book is what your mother really needs this year.


Fixing Your Time Stress Mess

60 minutes

Workaholics will discover helpful strategies for managing their time stress. Gain understanding for the tensions of your age and stage on the farm. Learn why some problems are not solvable, but just need to be managed as polarities. Self-renewing people are joyful and productive producers.


Rave reviews

“A joy to work with, heard loud and clear. When the farmers laughed or asked a great question, I knew they were listening and really wanted to learn from her. Her tips were easy to understand. It was just about understanding that conflict happens, and to have the confidence in yourself to ask for what you want. In the glowing review from farmers after her presentation, I knew they had heard that loud and clear.”
Maddy Berner, Event Planner & Communications Coordinator, National Milk Producers Federation National Milk Producers Federation
“I wanted to say a HUGE thank you for your virtual kitchen table chat with Arlan Academy. My wife and I signed up as it was exceptionally relevant to our current journey with potentially transitioning to her parents’ farm. The session was able to cover so many aspects of these crucial conversations and hearing you speak to both sides of the conversation was eye opening for my own perspective on this topic. It seemed to be very well attended and sounded like there were many other people who would echo my thoughts and feelings on it.”
N. Oakley, Farmer, Ontario
“Elaine helped me allocate $1 Million of assets the night I listened to her. Elaine’s presentation brings value to the use of my services in my office.”
Don Forbes, Forbes Wealth Management
“I recently joined in and listened to your Healthy Farmer Agriwebinar for FMC. I truly enjoyed hearing your perspective and even went and grabbed my Mom, away from her work, to come and listen in on some of your main points as well! One area that really stood out for me, both personally with our own succession plans and with our clients, was your discussion involving "Instant Influence" and how ready are you to change? I loved this concept!”
Annessa Good, FCC Transition Specialist, Alberta
“Elaine Froese truly is the Farm Whisperer. With her big heart and stern resolve, she guides families through uncharted waters and helps them arrive safely at their desired destination. She has been there, done that, and has helped hundreds of families come out on the other side. With your family and your farm legacy on the line, you owe it to yourself to start this conversation. You do not need to do it alone. Let Elaine Froese guide you through. Your legacy is being written day by day. How will you be remembered?”
Tracy Brunet, Host of The Impact Farming Show & CEO of Farm Marketer
“You speak like you’ve been sitting at our kitchen table! You know our family issues well. I am feeling more comfortable understanding what we now need to do. Elaine Froese is real.”
Audience Member,
“I attended the meeting you spoke at in Stratford Ontario recently. We held an emergency family/farm meeting today because of issues that I had enough of. We used a 'talking stick' like you recommended and wrote a chart of rules. The rest of the family thought the idea that we needed a meeting was worth rolling their eyes over, until we got started. The younger ones were quick to clue in that they now have an opportunity to be bluntly honest. The older ones took a bit longer to believe they could truly say what they think. In the end, the meeting needed two sessions because there was so much to talk about… and so many things people didn't realize were a big deal to the others. Your lessons and encouragement have given us the tools we need to get to a better place in our relationships and our business. Truly thankful.”
Kim Martin, Dairy Farmer, Ontario
“Helped me develop my framework to start having constructive and meaningful conversations around the farm.”
Tennille Wakefield, Farm Partner
“Some great lessons, Elaine! You continue to do some remarkable and potentially life-changing work.”
James Mitchell, Principal, Conversations Consulting
“Our family had a good farm meeting yesterday afternoon. Your Fairness video was a great topic of discussion. One of the action items after the meeting was to have my two non-farming siblings watch the video before the next big meeting they are involved with on the farm. It will be a great conversation starter as we catch them up on our current plan. As they are younger, we also hope it will help them to ask new questions that may not have been on their mind.”
G.G., Farm Family Legacy Coach, Alberta
“Elaine gives me excellent tools that help me work with my clients!”
Laurianne Osmack, Financial Planner / Partner, Doell Osmak Wealth Management
“She has a sense of “knowing” quickly what is happening in the family dynamic. Her messages to her audiences drive home what needs to be done next to solve the complex issues of farm transition and conflict resolution.”
Audience Member,
“Eye-opening. Excited to open the door of communication with my spouse and farm family.”
Ashley Hoppe, Farm Partner
“The Strong Farms, Strong Families session gave farm families an opportunity to meet face to face with Elaine Froese... hear her own story, experiences and skill set. From this information packed session and related materials, families could identify areas of success in their journey and other places they need assistance. The greatest take away was that participants could see that Elaine Froese is someone they can trust with the things that they hold most precious.... their family and their farm.”
Nancy Atkinson, Nobleford Ag Society, Alberta
“Elaine’s real-life scenarios help her audiences know they are not alone, knowing there are creative solutions to help them get the life on the farm they have always wanted.”
Audience Member,
“A long time female client who had refined the art of procrastination was so moved by the end of your presentation that she accepted your permission to “drop the bananas.” She contacted me soon after for an appointment to do some planning which included the selling of the family “Century Farm.” A very, very emotional decision on her part that was not likely to have occurred without your presentation.”
Don Forbes, Forbes Wealthy Management
“I just have to say… that your work is amazing and I have never forgotten your teachings from our session in Williams Lake at TRU. It is super important work. I know so many people going through the trauma of succession. I hate to use that word, but I was an “out-law” and know it can get terrible. I continue to forward your emails on to others. Keep doing what you do! You are amazing. You kind of walk into the fire regularly… and with a smile. Proud to have met you.”
Megan, BC Rancher
“As my husband and I eagerly started the course we were optimistic and excited to be taking this next step in our Farm Transition. We were starting to question ourselves and whether or not we were just being selfish and greedy, and if this Farm Transition was still an option for us. We barely got through the first Module and were already having such a huge relief. As we moved through the modulus there were so many times that we just sat back with our hands in the air and thought YES. My husband and I would smile with relief because all of the concerns that we have been struggling with were relevant and came up in the modules. We really enjoyed the course and are excited to move on to the next stages to find our farm resolution.”
Shannon Gilchrist, “Get Farm Transition Unstuck” online course participant
“My hubby farms with 2 brothers and parents, and it’s become a really toxic place. No communication, no respect, etc. Twelve months ago, my husband’s brothers told him they don’t want to work with him anymore and offered him a pay out. His parents did nothing to stop it! He had no choice but to leave. Three months later, we moved off the farm and into town. He has been offered heaps of jobs and is now truck driving and carting hay and grain. We have tried communicating with his parents about what happened but they are not interested. So basically my hubby has lost his family. Very sad but we as husband and wife are overall in a good place and moving on to create our own life. Please continue on with all your wonderful work in helping families on the farm. I continue to tell any farmers I know about you, that they must ‘google’ you, and read your books.”
Donna, Farmer, Australia

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