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An Old Farmer’s Words to Live By

Hey friends!  Welcome Kyle again from Rather-Be-Shopping with his bi-weekly guest post.  Thanks, Kyle!  Along with your mega-valuable tips, you always keep us laughing. 🙂

I grew up on a small farm and to this day I still miss the smell of sheep manure and bales of oat hay. Pretty weird, huh? I was also heavily involved in 4-H and took market lambs to three different county fairs in my area and used the money earned to fund my college education. As for 4-H, nothing pulls chicks like white jeans and a dress shirt along with a green tie and hat. But that is a story for another day. Today I wanted to talk about some of my favorite quotes I heard growing up from my Dad and Grandfather, who were both true farmers and very frugal men, and how they changed my life and can hopefully do the same for you.

“Make sure your fences are horse-high, pig-tight and bull-strong”

I always laughed when my Grandfather said this and thought he was crazy as he never owned any bulls or horses. It wasn’t until I was older that I realized the true power behind his words. Be prepared. You had better prepare a financial plan and budget that won’t let in the wolves to kill your sheep and eat your profits. He use to always say this when talking about his plan to earn a profit on his livestock and crops. He was always prepared for the worst and had a plan of action and never made decisions without noodling through the consequences.

“Words that soak into your ears are whispered…not yelled”

Having three kids of my own, I think of this saying often. My kids don’t respond well to being yelled at and I have learned over the years that many teaching moments go by the wayside when I let my anger or attitude about what they have done override the situation. I’m not here to preach about how you should raise your kids, but I can say from personal experience that having a rational conversation with my kids about expectations and values goes a lot further than hollering at them.

“If you find yourself in a hole, the first thing you gotta do is stop diggin’”

Back 12 years ago when I was $55,000 in credit card debt my Dad said these exact words to me. After a series of incredibly bad financial decisions I was at a tipping point and had to either cut up my credit cards, stop digging, and develop a plan to work toward paying off the debt, or keep digging and possibly lose everything I had worked so hard for, including my marriage. His simple words really hit home and made me realize what a huge hole I was standing in and made it clear that I had to get rid of my shovel once and for all.

“Every path has a few puddles”

Being the optimistic farmer that he is, this is one of my Dad’s favorite sayings. In other words, don’t get down on yourself when your plan to get out of debt hits a bump in the road when, for instance, the car breaks down and you have to dig into your emergency fund. If you quit when you get to a puddle in your journey you’ll never be debt free. Your journey just might take a different path but you’ll eventually reach your destination.

“If you get to thinkin’ you’re important, try orderin’ somebody else’s dog around”

Whenever I reach a financial goal, or have a success with my business, I think of this quote often uttered by my Grandfather. The conversation in my head usually goes like this, “Kyle, don’t start thinking you’ve won. Keep pushing, set new goals, don’t rest on your laurels.” By doing this you continue to motivate yourself to get better at whatever you do which eventually leads to even more success. These successes lead to pay raises, promotions, and intrinsic satisfaction which can’t be measured by dollars alone. So always remember to stay humble, work hard, and stay motivated because in the end, Fido next door doesn’t give a rip about you.

My Grandfather passed away in 2007 and I wish I could go back to my childhood and write down all of the awesome sayings that use to come out of his mouth. But since I can’t, I’ll have to be content with the ones I do remember and how they have changed my life forever.

What sayings from past generations in your life have had the biggest impact on you? I look forward to your comments!

About The Author: Kyle James writes almost daily at the Rather-Be-Shopping Blog, topics include frugal living and creative ways to save more of your hard-earned money.


  1. Laurie says:

    Kyle, these are some of the most powerful words of advice I’ve ever heard, and much needed today as I’m a little lacking in the “encouragement” area. Thank you, thank you!!

  2. Great words Kyle! I love them all, but your second point really resonates with me – especially with children. I have learned that myself over the years that acting out of frustration will largely accomplish nothing good. It’s those words spoken softly and with care that really tend to hit home and impact them more.

  3. Mackenzie says:

    What a great post! Very inspiring words you’ve shared here Kyle 🙂

    My favorite one that you shared is “Every path has a few puddles”. This is good to remember and applies to all facets of life. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Matt Becker says:

    “Make sure your fences are horse-high, pig-tight and bull-strong”. Love that one. Pessimism is unproductive, but understanding the risks you face and having a plan for them is pretty essential.

  5. I love these. I’ve used, “when you’re in a hole, stop digging” many times in my own life. I also really wish I could go back and have more conversations with my grandparents. I really regret not being there in the very last parts of their life. 🙁 One of my fave quotes to use is, “I have been through some terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened.” by Mark Twain. This is for when I start making a mountain out of a molehill and get overly dramatic about my own life. Sometimes our perspective is everything.

  6. Jim says:

    Love it Kyle, I really appreciate the analogy of the fences, this is so true. Living in a small ‘farming’ town, I appreciate and admire farmers very much!

  7. CF says:

    Great quotes, especially the one about digging holes. I am constantly reminded of this when I look at my parents’ situation – they just can’t stop accumulating debt.

  8. Kali @ CommonSenseMillennial says:

    I love these! I think my favorite saying – not sure if it’s old or just Southern – is “if a frog had wings he wouldn’t bump his butt.” Sounds funny, but it has a powerful meaning.. there’s no sense sitting and wishing things had happened differently or wasting time being upset about fundamental things you simply do not have the power to change. Some circumstances are out of our control, and the sooner we can accept that the sooner we can move on to something we CAN change, control, and work at molding the outcome we want.

  9. Martin says:

    This is a fantastic article and has some honestly great advice! Your grandad offered some amazing tips for your life and I am glad that they stuck with you.

  10. Love this! Great words of advice! Completely agree with #2. Children respond better when they’re spoken to, not yelled at. Great post! All of these can apply to so many different situations.

  11. lyle @ the Joy of Simple says:

    Awesome post Kyle!!

    Your dad and grand-dad were indeed wise men and I’m glad that you were smart enough to listen, learn and write their sayings down. I bet your children may surprise you when they are older by letting you know that they took your “crazy ramblings” to heart. Besides, not only are you teaching your children through the teachings of your past, but you are also teaching via example and that’s just, if not, more powerful.

    Take care and all the best.

    ps: The only quote I remember as a child is “I love it when a plan comes together.” – Hannibal Smith – The A Team 🙂

  12. lol, love these! I especially love the one about whispering. If my spouse does something that is wrong and needs to be corrected, I’ve had to learn to be sweet as honey and explain myself to get the point across. So for example, if he leaves his wet towels crumpled in the dirty clothes hamper as opposed to drying it first (hate mildewy towels), I try not to nag as it never works!

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