1.14.2008

Saving for the Very Long-Term

Of the many things my parents have passed on to me, their discipline in saving is probably the one that will help me the most in the long run.  Twenty years from now, I may have at least two kids in college, and tuitions are soaring at a breathtaking pace.  Forty years from now, Amy and I will hopefully be retired, and there'll probably only be two workers for every person collecting Social Security, down from three to one today (and something like 15 to 1 when it was created in the 1930's) - assuming Social Security still exists.  And the cost of health care adds headache to both college and retirement.  So every dollar coming in today that I decide not to give away I've got to put in one of three buckets: current expenditures, college savings, and retirement fund.  And all three of those buckets have a higher growth rate than the incoming money. 
 
It's enough to make you worry.  Which is why it is apt that the immediate context of the Bible's quintessential "don't worry" passage is money: in response to a heckler's rant about his inheritance, Jesus tells stories about God clothing birds and fields to remind us that God will provide.  He also  speaks of a rich person who stores up grain only to lose his life the next time, and calls him a fool for it.
 
Yikes, storing up extra grain seems awfully prudent, the kind of thing I do on a regular basis when I siphon money into my college and retirement accounts.  Isn't this wise and not foolish?  Not if we're trusting in our financial acumen or our commendable discipline, and not in the God who we look to to provide for us, and not if we deem ourselves preeminently rich in material resources rather than rich in our relationship with God.  Twenty and forty years out seems a long time horizon, but so is eternity.  So may I earn, spend, and save accordingly.
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