When it comes to planning for retirement and saving for retirement every Christian investor should add a simple word to their vocabulary – enough. The Bible seems to indicate that a Christian who neglects an I-have-enough attitude is considered a hoarder. The danger of hoarding is that it can direct our attention away from God.
16 And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. 17 He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’ 18 “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19 And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.” ’20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ 21 “This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God.” (NIV Luke 12:16-21).
To simplify things, there are two analogies you can adopt as retirement saving strategies. The two retirement options are the Wealth Snowball and the Ocean Tide.
What Is Your Retirement Savings Goal?
If your asking how much should I be saving for retirement that will depend on which of the following approaches you prefer. This question, of course, should be asked only after you have asked yourself should retirement be the goal of life?
Choice #1: The Wealth Snowball
The pattern is obvious. When you get ahead financially it is easy to stay ahead and become more and more wealthy. Perhaps this is why the rich keep getting richer. The problem with an unchecked wealth snowball is that your life will be consumed with building bigger and bigger barns to store your wealth. Depending on your savings habits it is quite surprising how easily one can become an accidental millionaire.
The inherent flaw with the wealth snowball is that it always grows and one might never realize when they have enough.
Choice #2: Ocean Tide
The ocean pattern is painfully predictable. The tides are equalizers. If the tides kept coming in indefinitely we would have issues with flooding. If the tides kept going out forever there would be issues of water shortage. But, the tides, high and low, maintain a balance for an overall fixed sea level.
Applying this illustration to our finances, we should find a fixed level for our retirement savings. This predetermined level becomes our equalizer. When money comes in there is an opportunity to look around for helpful places to use those funds as a blessing to others. Notice that those extra funds are not just going to be used to increase your nest egg; instead, they will flow out in the pockets of worthy churches, organizations or recipients.
When you appear to be falling short (tide goes out) you can once again rebuild your nest egg to your fixed level. This allows you to ensure that you have enough, while also avoiding the temptation of hoarding. It is essential that we all find a right savings balance. Some people use the graduated tithe as a tool to help them find the balance.
Do I Have Enough To Retire?
Unfortunately, I cannot answer that for you. I have enough difficulty answering that question for myself. It is, however, a worthy issue to discuss with trusted friends and your church staff. Pray over the issue, insightfully read your Bible, and trust that God will make things clear to you. Then you can answer the question, how much do I need to retire.
When it comes to retirement planning, I suggest you define a point when you have enough so as to avoid the danger of hoarding as exemplified in Luke 12:16-21. While that point will vary greatly by individuals, it honors God to determine when enough is enough. You can learn more by exploring the question how much should Christians save?
Photo by jesse.millan.
What criteria do you use to help you determine when enough is enough? How much is enough to retire on?