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An Irreverent Source of Financial Planning Tips

Farm Business Management Update, August/September 2003

By Damona Doye

Financial planning fun? You've got to be kidding, right? No, really... The website is one of my favorites as it offers valuable lessons and a variety of helpful tools in fun ways. A thought from the website: Why is the one who invests all your money called a broker?

Helpful forms available from the website include ones for personal contacts, financial inventory, insurance inventory, personal inventory, spending plan worksheet, spending record worksheets and wedding budget worksheets. Forms are available either on-line or in printable pdf files. You can sign on for a weekly e-mail that brings you such things as a humorous reminder about the value of budgeting or a calculator to help you determine your value if you really are worth your weight in gold.

Menu choices on the website include Topics, Take Action, Calculators, Jargon, Fun and Games, Membership, and Forum. Topics range from Annuities, to Surviving Divorce, to Taking Care of Parents, to The Cost of Death. Each segment has brief, reader-friendly introductions along with succinct additional information and, where appropriate, checklists and links to other websites. The website is sponsored by ING North America Insurance Group, a member of a family of companies based in Amsterdam.

How to Be the Kind of Employer You Would Want to Work For1

-- adapted by Lana Frazier from a presentation made by Sarah Fogleman, Extension Agricultural Economist, K-State Research and Extension, to Kansas State University's Risk and Profit Conference in August 2001

If your businesses is expanding, you may be supervising family members or managing and hiring non-family workers. Here are a few guidelines that should help with that task:

Use Job Descriptions. A well-written job description should convey the requirements for the employee to be successful in the position. It ensures that the employer and the employee have the same perceptions of the position and performance expectations. A job description gives potential and current employees an accurate picture of the position and helps the employer communicate the performance standards for the position. The job description is not written in stone; it should change and evolve with the business, position, and employee.

Lay Out The Ground Rules. The best way to lay out the ground rules is through an employee handbook which will typically contain several sections:

Provide Proper Training. Try to anticipate your needs well in advance so that you will have time to hire and train new employees. It takes thirty days for an employee to be fully oriented into a business and 365 days to be fully trained. Even new hires with experience need time to learn the specifics of your operation. Remember to be patient and thorough.

Meet the Employee's Needs. Non-monetary compensation such as job security and flexible hours, direct compensation such as wages and bonuses, and indirect compensation such as Social Security and housing should be as individual as the employees who receive them. For example, a working mother may take a lower-paying job with flexible hours so that she can be at home when her children get home from school, while another employee may be looking for stable work and an affordable place to live. In a tight labor market, businesses that cannot compete with high cash wages can certainly compete when offering individualized compensation packages.

Understand Satisfaction. Job satisfaction is difficult to quantify but hinges on four core dimensions: feedback such as a job evaluation, a sense of ownership of their work and the degree of authority they have over how they perform their tasks, a clear perception of where the employee fits into the larger scheme, and a high variety in tasks that tap a number of skills and stress the element of challenge rather than just difference in the tasks.

So, as you consider how to better be the kind of boss that you would like to work for, consider all of the above and the golden rule‹do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Published in Quick Tips, Oklahoma State University. Vol. 34, July 2003 (

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