Sustainable or Depleting?
This time of year in the financial industry is the ‘retirement planning season’. When I was in practice, it was a very profitable time of year as people brought money in droves to contribute to their retirement savings plans. It was also a time when clients reviewed their portfolio returns and made a lot of changes to their investments; again all very profitable to an investment advisor.
An annual review of your investments is good, of course, and doing something towards supporting your lifestyle when you’re not working full-time is also good. But, you’ll notice I didn’t say, ‘when you retire’. Retirement as it relates to personal finances isn’t a biblical concept and it’s not sustainable.
Financial sustainability means ensuring your have a source of income to pay for your living and lifestyle expenses throughout your lifetime. Our current concept of retirement means you take money out of circulation today and set it aside and hope it grows so that one day you can stop working and be able to use your accumulated savings to pay for your life. This model isn’t good for today or for tomorrow and we have a direct warning about the pitfalls of this approach in the parable of the rich fool in Luke 12.
Jesus tells the man that ‘surely you will lose your life today’ and this is exactly what happens with our current retirement model. I have a huge section on this in the book, Financial Grace, as well as in my other books as the Lord has been revealing more and more about the pitfalls of our current personal financial models over the years. If this is new to you, then please let me know and I’ll direct you to more information on why this approach is so devastating to not just our families, but our communities, our society and our world.
The big question I’m asked when I start explaining the problems with our current teaching on money, retirement, debt, and budgets, is ‘what is the answer then’? The solution is simple, but not easy. Why? Because for many people their entire life has been lived with this paradigm of money. This means that a complete transformation is necessary before they will even grasp the potential of what we’re talking about. Sadly, many people don’t even bother asking what’s the answer because they have gone to school, got a good education and have landed themselves in a comfortable, government or corporate job situation with benefits and a pension and paid holidays.
I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with this, but it’s not the norm and it’s not possible or practical for everyone. The backbone of not just our society, but of all societies, is the small entrepreneur. This is the individual family who uses what they have to produce an income for themselves and in so doing also benefits their community. To be honest, it’s beyond frightening to watch the closed-mindedness of westerners, while simultaneously seeing the amazing transformation of lives and communities in the far reaching corners of the world when they are given a tiny opportunity to begin some sort of simple entrepreneurial venture. Quite honestly, whole families can end up being financially sustainable with a tiny plot of dirt and a few packets of seeds; or some scraps of cloth and a needle, yet in North America people struggle with figuring out how they could earn $10 without a job.
I can go on and on, and I will, but let’s suffice it to say that its not sustainable (nor is it God’s plan) to work your whole life then attempt to live on what you’ve managed to save and hope you don’t outlive your money.
Have a blessed week!! So excited to share more with you in the weeks and months ahead!
Joe and Sam