The longer I maintain www.moneyhelpforchristians.com, the less money it seems like I’m going to have.
From the very first days of this blog, I was open about the fact that I wanted to learn what the Bible had to say about money (as opposed to assuming that I already knew).
I used to have a simple and effective retirement strategy … and then I had to go reading the Bible. The result? I started rethinking retirement.
Question: What do you think is most people’s greatest fear about retirement savings?
Answer: That they won’t have enough.
Question: What does the New Testament propose should be the greatest concern about retirement savings?
Answer: That you’ll have too much.
There’s a Bible story (Luke 12:15-21) about a guy who kept building bigger barns to stockpile his savings. Obviously, a huge part of this man’s failing is that he did so without being rich towards God. Is the point of this passage that we should build bigger and bigger barns while being rich towards God, or is the point that if we are rich towards God we won’t build bigger and bigger barns?
The moral of the story of the Rich Fool is don’t be an idiot. Don’t do dumb things with money. It’s dumb to build up savings here on earth when you could be investing in treasure in heaven. Why put more in the insecure, temporary investment of this earth when you could use it for an eternal investment that will not spoil, perish, or fade?
It’s not a sin. It’s just plain foolish.
I’ve never had any financial advisor, counselor, or guru tell me to carefully analyze how much I’m saving to be sure it’s not too much.
Is there such a thing as saving too much for retirement?
In our society of bigger is better, why would anyone be worried that they might be saving too much?
By the way, I do realize how dangerous this information can be in the hands of the wrong person. I do hereby release myself of any responsibility of a foolish person who foolishly applies this information.
How We Managed to Reduce our Nest Egg
Step #1 – Say Goodbye to Saving 15% for retirement.
My wife and I did this a year or two ago.
I used Dave Ramsey’s very generous retirement formula and figured out that we were on track to have something in excess of a few million dollars in retirement.
What in the world am I ever going to do with that kind of money?
It was insane! It was too much.
Thus, my wife and I decided our fist baby step was going to be reducing our retirement to 10%. Hey, that’s not a huge leap of faith, but we felt like it was a needed change in the right direction.
What if a Big Mac costs $125 when I retire?
I trust that if one sacrifices savings for giving that God will provide some means for them. You see, I’m not talking about reducing retirement savings so you can take an extra cruise in 2012. I’m not suggesting that you stop saving for retirement so you can install a 397,892 inch Plasma TV. That’s foolish.
I’m suggesting some Christians may be in a place in life where they could/should consider reducing the amount they contribute to retirement so they have more to use for giving to the church, the poor, and missions.
Step #2 Say Goodbye to Saving 10% for Retirement
Here’s my biggest gripe with the percentage idea of saving for retirement.
It assumes you actually plan to have a lifestyle in line with your income.
Let’s imagine for a moment that you were to get a raise. If you save a percentage of your income, that means you now save even more for retirement.
Does getting a raise mean you need more money for retirement?
Only if you adjust your lifestyle upward in kind with your income. However, I think we have a higher call: to use our income (especially as it increases) to be a blessing to others – not just ourselves.
Don’t blindly trust advice when someone says you should be saving X, Y, or Z for retirement. Prayerfully consider the decision.
Be open to the possibility that God might not want you to save as much as you can.
In our case, we got an early start (I was 21 and my wife 20) when we started saving for retirement. While I know most people are going to have the problem of not having enough for retirement, some will have the issue of having too much.
I’ll follow up in about 40 years when I retire and let you know if I regret this post or not.
Do you think this message is valuable for Christians to consider, or do you think it’s dangerous advice that will do more damage than good?