Income is a nice thing. We labor for it, and we use it to pay our bills and take care of our families. We trust God and are thankful for His promises of provision in Matthew 6:33, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” However, I wonder how many of us are planning appropriately for our income to continue in the event of illness, disability, or old age.
We know the Bible teaches “the just shall live by faith,” but we need to put feet to our faith. Solomon said in Proverbs that we are to consider the way of the ant.
Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise: Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, Provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest.—Proverbs 6:6–8
In teaching the wisdom of planning for a future need, Solomon did not say that meat is easily provided for the ant. Instead, the ant has to go out and gather the meat for the present season and the coming season.
Proverbs isn’t the only place in Scripture that teaches us the principle of saving for future needs. God revealed the meaning of Pharaoh’s dream to Joseph in Genesis 41. Knowing the future need (after seven plenteous years, there would be seven years of famine), Joseph advised Pharaoh to seek out a man that was discreet and wise to set aside twenty percent of the harvest during each plenteous year. The purpose of this was so that, “Food shall be for store to the land against the seven years of famine, which shall be in the land of Egypt; that the land perish not through the famine” (Genesis 41:36).
God revealed a previously unknown need to Joseph. We do not know our future days, but God knows all of our days. What we know is that, should the Lord tarry His coming, we will continue to age and perhaps experience various illnesses, which may render us unable to labor or otherwise earn an income. It is both wise and prudent to save “against that day.”
We are further admonished on this issue in Proverbs 21:20: “There is treasure to be desired and oil in the dwelling of the wise; but a foolish man spendeth it up.”
It’s rather difficult to have such valuable commodities in our home—treasures and oil—without saving them, or saving for them.
How do we save for our financial future?
1. Begin by making savings a priority for your household budget.
2. Have a thorough and honest look at where all of your dollars are going each month and look for areas where some dollars can be “re-captured” or re-directed towards savings. I have called my cell phone service and Cable companies and been able to reduce my monthly bills by as much as $60 each.
3. After tithing and designated monthly offerings, commit to a set dollar amount to save/invest per month.
4. Build up a cushion of cash savings before investing. Ask yourself what might be the single, largest expense you might incur in one year, and then set a goal to surpass that amount in savings in the bank.
5. Make your savings or investing deposits automatic. If you have to think and decide to save each month, it is not likely to happen.
6. Seek godly counsel when investing the resources God has entrusted you with so that you honor Him and avoid speculating (which is gambling). It is not necessary to pay a broker load fees—avoid mutual funds that have a “load” (which is a commission).
7. Diversify. Solomon, being a king of peace, had a navy of ships—not for war, but for trade. He did not put all his goods on one ship, but he gave, “A portion to seven, and also to eight; for thou knowest not what evil shall be upon the earth.” (Ecclesiastes 11:2).
8. Continue investing (appropriate to your age and willingness to weather the movements of the markets) long term. The faithful stewards in the parable of Matthew 25 did not double their lord’s assets overnight, but “after a long time,” which translates to “many seasons.”
Consider the value of time. A 20 year old can invest (fairly aggressively) $100 every month until age 65 and have potentially accumulated over $1.2 million, while a 40 year old would need to invest $600 a month in order to even come close to $1 million by age 65. It is better to start sooner than later.