Proverbs 21:5 in The Living Bible says, “Steady plodding brings prosperity; hasty speculation brings poverty.” The NIV puts it like this, “The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty.”
In my first job out of college, I did social work for a home health agency. I made very little money, and I had no “benefits” at all (health insurance, paid time off, a retirement plan, or the like). However, at 21 years old, I determined that I needed to start putting something aside for my retirement years. So, I began to put $5 each week into an envelope for my retirement that was probably some 40 or more years into the future.
Now, I ended up spending my little retirement nest egg a few years later to pay for my wedding, which I think was a pretty good use of those funds, but the practice of saving that money each week helped me to develop financial discipline that would be useful in future years.
So, what does steady plodding look like for you and me?
Many of us who are in the midst of raising children might have very little “extra” income available for saving or investing. However, these are the years when we need to be setting aside some funds to prepare for when we might become less productive as we age. If we take a hard look at our budgets, we can often find ways to free up a little money to put away for the future, and then the marvelous principle of compounding interest can work in our favor.
I like what Proverbs 6:6-8 tells us about saving:“Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest.”
If even the ant saves its surplus for a rainy day, we should do it, too. We aren’t promised that our future years will bring the same level of income as we have now. God expects us to be faithful stewards and prepare for our later years in the present, all the while trusting in Him as our Provider.
Perhaps we can cut our grocery budget by $50 a month by couponing or go to a smaller cable TV package or eat out less, and start socking that extra money away into an emergency savings account or a Roth IRA. Of course, paying off any debts that you might have will net a guaranteed return and free up money in your budget for saving and investing.
Many financial experts suggest having an emergency savings reserve of three to six months’ income, in case of a medical crisis or a job loss or a major house repair. Once the emergency savings is fully funded, it’s time to divert those funds to investing for the future. It might be helpful to set up automatic draft so that the money comes out of your check before you even see it.
Multitudes of companies offer IRAs and various type of investments, and it’s simple to start an account. If you would like help navigating the waters, some reputable investment companies that I’ve found are:
The key is to start. Just start somewhere, and as you begin to make progress, you will become encouraged and excited and motivated to continue. Larry Burkett used to say that we shouldn’t spend everything that we make while we’re working and then expect God to provide for us in retirement. He might just tell us that He provided what we would need and we spent it already!
Prayerfully set goals for your saving and investing. Write out short-term and long-term goals, and check your progress periodically to see if you are on track. Of course, there are factors that we won’t be able to control, such as the economy and the stock market, so adjustments will need to be made along the way. But having a written plan will help to solidify where you’re going and the steps you need to take to get there.
There are several calculators at this link that will help you to see what it will take to reach your savings and investing goals.
“And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19)