Nearly two out of every three working Americans expect to delay their retirement.  Many have no choice.  The most commonly stated reason is insufficient savings.

When and how can you start preparing for retirement and for the rest of your life?  The answer to that question is easy.  Yesterday, if possible. 

The next question is “How?”  That is also not too difficult to answer.  Start with some form of savings.  The most basic is often referred to as a “rainy day fund” and is an emergency fund, although such a fund is not really for retirement, it is really for exactly what it says, “emergencies.”  This is a crucial first step in anyone’s mission to start saving.   Get started now.  But there is a lot more you should know that might help.

1.  Planning is Biblical

There is nothing morally or spiritually weak about planning for the future and for your retirement.  In Luke Jesus asked a powerful question to illustrate exactly this point. 

Luke 14:28-30
28  “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it?
29  For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him,
30  saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’

Not only is it not wrong to plan, it is wrong not to plan.  Yes, trust God.  But also follow His strong advice and plan your earthly future after insuring your eternal future.  Recognize that Jesus came for us.  Romans 5:8 tells us that “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”   He does want the best for us and it is not wrong to plan – at least not with Him in mind. See Luke 12.

2.  Life is only a small part of eternity

“Eternity” is a long, long time.  On the other hand, life is, as Solomon wrote, “a vapor.” Plan for your days here on earth, but also for the inescapable future of eternity. 

3.  Set your long-term financial goals now

Yogi Berra said something amazing about life, “If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll be lost when you get there.”  That is true of life, of your relationship with God and of your finances.  You need to have a realistic and reasonable goal in order to any chance of saving for it.  It may be a retirement goal, paying off big bills, or having some savings for those inevitable breakdowns that happen.  Discuss what is reasonable with an adviser who knows you and then with that adviser’s assistance, set your goals.  Then plan how to get there.  But starting now, or as early as possible, is essential for a successful retirement.

4.  A dollar saved today is better than two (or more) dollars saved in a few years

You have your goals, now know that there is a discipline and a cost to reach those goals, just as there is a discipline and a cost to reach any meaningful goal.  If your goal is retirement by a certain age, then you should use some of the many financial tools available on line to know how much must be saved and how often.  The Idlewild Foundation can help. 

5.  Set up a meeting with a personal financial adviser to establish your long-term plan and to regularly review your progress

Any journey of many months (much less one for many years) requires course adjustments.  No one should tell you that in the short run  stock market investments are secure or guaranteed.  But in the long run, well-advised investments can offer a reasonable rate or return balanced by reasonable security and allow you to reach for your goals.  The Idlewild Foundation can help you chose a financial adviser who can give you good Christian advice and guidance. 

6.  Save wisely, especially considering tax consequences

If your employer has a tax-deferred program such as a 401(k) program, use it.  If your employer does matching contributions, it is, quite literally, free money and you would be unwise to not at least attempt to get the maximum employer matching contribution.  Taking advantage of an employer-sponsored retirement plan is simply wise stewardship. If your employer does not offer a 401(k) program or other tax-deferred form of savings, ask about starting one.  If that is not possible, then contributing as much as possible to an IRA is a smart investment in your future.

7.  “Forced” savings work for you

If money is withheld by your employer and automatically invested into a 401(k) or tax-deferred account, there is far less temptation to spend more.  It is just harder to spend what you don’t see in your checking account.  You should, if you can, automate your savings because then you won’t only be contributing left-overs to your future.  Investing into your own future makes it by automatic deductions from your paycheck “forces” you to save, and it works.

Call us at The Idlewild Foundation at (813) 264-8713 for additional ideas on working toward your retirement. While retirement is not a concept discussed in the Bible, it is a concept pictured there.  See the parable at Luke 12:13-21.  That parable shows us an image of God’s heart toward a selfish retirement that ignores the Creator. We would love to share with you additional ideas on planning for retirement in a Godly fashion!

About the Author

John Campbell

John Campbell has retired from a 40-year legal practice as a trial attorney in Tampa. He has served in multiple volunteer roles at Idlewild Baptist Church in Lutz, Florida, where he met Jesus.  He began serving as the Executive Director of the Idlewild Foundation in 2016.  He has been married to the love of his life, Mona Puckett Campbell, since 1972.