It’s not hard to find advice about preparing for retirement but some of the information is being left out. Save as much as you can now because Americans are living longer and your chances of running out of money are higher than in generations before you.
You need to save 12 to 15 percent of your yearly income for retirement in order to have a chance of being financially prepared. Make sure your 401(k) and IRA are invested in products that have low fees because even one half of one percent can strip more than $100,000 from your account over 30 years.
All of this is good advice. Really, it is, but all of these articles, including the many that I’ve written, have glossed over some key points when thinking about retirement.
If you’re like most, you have an idea of how you will spend your retirement. You may have dreams of traveling the world, watching your grandchildren grow up, taking up a hobby, or continuing to work in some capacity.
Your dream retirement scenario may come true and most of the advice that you receive assumes that it will. All you have to do is save enough money now to live your dream later.
The Truth May be Different
Nobody wants to think about what could be the truth. Forbes points out that retirement could be a lot different than your dream. As we age our bodies break down and those who reach retirement age are more likely to have medical problems than those who are younger.
Some of those problems could be severe. If not you, you may be a caretaker for your spouse who fell on hard times when it comes to health. You may not have as much money as you had hoped and your only option is to continue working until you no longer have the ability to do so.
Depressing to think about? Yes, and that’s the reason that most advice columns don’t mention it. None of us want to face our mortality and none of us want to think that our future may not be as bright as the beautiful picture painted in our dreams. But any financial planning should take into account what could happen instead of the best case scenario.
How to Prepare
First, think about health, insurance. Life, disability, and long term care insurance. You don’t necessarily need all of these types of insurance but it’s important to consider each. No internet article can address your personal situation. Work with an insurance agent you trust to decide what is appropriate for you. If you don’t have an insurance agent, talk to people in your church. There’s likely a trusted agent within the membership.
Next, follow the popular advice. Save as much money as you can now. Most of us could stand to buy less stuff. We all need save more for what may or may not come in the future. Many people live a healthy life in retirement. You have to be prepared for any reality.
What the Bible Says about Retirement
“13 Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” 16 As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. 17 If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.” – James 4:13-17
Remember that God promises tomorrow to nobody. While it is vitally important to save for retirement, don’t use it as a reason not to act on your dreams now. Do you want to use your money to bless others? Find ways to do it now. Do you want to take a dream vacation with your spouse? Save your money and do it before retirement. Do you have plans to be more active in ministry once you have more time? Do it now. You shouldn’t be completely on one side of the other. Practice responsible saving but don’t wait to live a full and balanced until retirement.
“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”- Matthew 6:34
Also remember that God did not give us a spirit of fear. He tells us not to worry about what will come tomorrow. One of the many blessings that comes from being a Christian is that we allow God to take care of our future. Our job is to be obedient and Glorify Him in anything that comes at us. If our retirement years are prosperous, it’s because God has plans for us. If it takes a turn we didn’t want or expect, it’s because God has plans for us. Know that as a Christian you’re victorious regardless of your situation. God is far more concerned with the condition of your soul than He is your body.
Don’t ignore the advice of the retirement articles that you read. It’s all true but understand that your primary goal should be to make smart choices for your future but also serve God in the present. Let God reveal to you the proper balance between saving for later and living out your calling today.