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How Much Is Enough?

How much should I save for retirement?” This is a question financial planners are asked all the time. After all, most of us will not be able to, or want to, work our entire lives. We don’t want to just “scrape by” in our golden years. It should be a time when we can enjoy our families, pursue hobbies, serve people, and travel. Nobody wants to be dependent on others—certainly not be a burden to family and friends. If we miscalculate our nest egg, however, it may be impossible to recover.

Many financial planners recommend saving/investing to provide 60-80% of your present income. After all, the house should be paid off and the children will be “on their own.” It’s nice to have part of your retirement stream based on a pension or low-risk investments. A portion of your retirement savings will have to be invested for growth to keep up with inflation. What does the Bible have to say about saving?

Saving vs. Hoarding

The principle of saving is found in the Bible. Proverbs 21:20 says “There is precious treasure and oil in the dwelling of the wise, but a foolish man swallows it up.” Many Americans have a habit of routinely spending more than they earn, financing a lifestyle with debt. Proverbs 6:6-8 gives more insight: “Go to the ant, o sluggard, observe her ways and be wise…prepares her food in the summer, and gathers her provision in the harvest.” The chapter goes on to caution against laziness which will lead to poverty. Some will take saving too far, however, and out of fear or greed, save to excess.

You may know people who are obsessed with building wealth. The Bible cautions against it. Consider the rich fool in Luke 12:16-21: “The land of a certain rich man was very productive…’what shall I do, since I have no place to store my crops?...I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods.’ And I will say to my soul, ‘soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink, and be merry.’ But God said to him, ‘you fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?’ So is the man who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”

How much is enough? The answer will be different for everybody. A lack of saving violates the principles of preparation and working hard found in Scripture. Hoarding lessens our dependence on God to provide. Pray that God would show you the proper balance. “Give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is my portion, lest I be full and deny Thee and say, ‘who is the Lord?’ Or lest I be in want and steal, and profane the name of my God.” (Proverbs 30:8-9)

The views are those of Bruce Olmstead and not those of Summit Brokerage Services. Investments in securities do not offer a fix rate of return. Principal, yield and/or share price will fluctuate with changes in market conditions and, when sold or redeemed, you may receive more or less than originally invested.  No system or financial planning strategy can guarantee future results