WOrry about money
How to Stop Worrying About Retirement

How to Stop Worrying About Retirement

Listen to the Podcast version of this post Christian Money Podcast Episode 8: Stop Worrying About Retirement.

Recently, I ran across this article on Yahoo Finance.

The man details his retirement savings: 2.3 million dollars, $6,000/ month in rental property income, fully funded 529 for his kids.

He’s concerned.

He’s fifty with a wife much his junior and stays up at night worried about the future. Can he ever retire?

I want to prevent this article from becoming a parody, but it’s hard. His concern perfectly illustrates the trap of money saving and retirement planning.

You’ll never have enough.

There is no incentive for the financial industry to tell you you’ve saved enough.

The more money you put aside banks, insurance companies, advisors make more money. The financial industry has created a culture of worry, and the solution to the worry, in our minds? More money. More saving. More investments.

But for the Christian we need to redefine retirement away from the cultural norm of a period of time when you ‘rest from your work’ and we need to learn healthier ways of addressing money worry.

How to Stop Worrying About Money

As Christians who have faith in Jesus Christ and our heavenly Father’s provision, why do we worry about money?

Jesus tells us in Matthew 6 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?” (Matthew 6:25)

puzzle money

We so easily get tricked into the idea that there is this magical amount of money that will cause us to stop worrying about money. But the truth is we never get there.

Money doesn’t satisfy.

Money doesn’t make us safe.

And that is why this writer stays up at night although he has plenty of assets.

If we look towards Jesus as our provider as the one that takes care of us, it won’t matter whether we have $2.3 million or $2.3 dollars.

We would be much better off addressing the worry side of the “money-worry equation” than going after more money.

What’s our faith actually in? Jesus was pretty clear it can’t be in two things at once.

Retirement isn’t a Finish line but a Process

The Christian should be working not towards a finish line at the end of a career, but towards a life long sanctification of their work towards God’s purpose for them.

Perhaps the way to stop worrying about money is to align our income generation not with how to get more income, but meaningful work in line with the good works God has prepared in advance for us.

What if we looked at our work not as a means to feed our face, but as a privileged position in the Kingdom of God?

What if we saw ourselves as agents of God in our communities, our work places and our families and made decisions about our work not out of selfish ambition, but the Lord’s leading?

Wouldn’t you stop worrying about money if you knew God was the one cutting your paycheck?

I’ve known too many Christian families that make decisions about where/if they go to church, where they’ll live and what they can volunteer for based entirely on their work.

Reducing or changing income generation is never on the table for these Christians because they see reaching this retirement goal as superior to the work God may have for them in the moment.

If you don’t adjust your life style to serve God in your working years, you won’t do it when you finally have ‘nothing to do’.

Work is good for us, it’s part of our sanctification as Christians, but making work decisions in line with our calling instead of a pay raise will align our income generation with our purpose.

Why would you ever want to stop doing that?

There’s More Than One Lever for Retirement

This gentleman goes on to write that his target monthly expenses for retirement equal 10-12,000 dollars!

Many fall into this trap when planning for retirement.

They simply take their current spending level and project into perpetuity. The expense lever is a more efficient lever to pull when planning to stop income generating than saving.

For every dollar you plan to spend per year in retirement, you have to sock aside at least $10-$20 depending on your current age.

Adjusting your target expenses down to only the bare minimum as Paul says “with food and clothing we will be content” (1 Timothy 6:8), drastically reduces the savings necessary to remove yourself from paid work.

That’s not to say you can’t spend more. But if we learn to be content with simply our ‘daily bread’, we don’t have to worry about hitting a nut of $10,000/ month of expenses.

Continually and systematically looking for places in your life where you can go without makes you more grateful, your life easier to maintain and the eventual ability to forego income generation closer.

We take so many of our expenses as ‘necessities’ that are really just conveniences.

This writer is going to be fine.

He’s going to be able to eat, and his kids are going to have a roof over their head. Maybe there will come a time when they can’t maintain the same lifestyle, but if he’s ready to quit working, why not adjust your lifestyle so that you can live on mission?

Debrief

Some day I will be too old to generate income with my work. To that extent I would like to not be a burden to anyone so I need to put some money aside for that day. But I don’t need to sock away gobs of money so that I don’t ‘have to worry.’

Money won’t ever give us security. It’s a trap that causes Christians to make decisions about life around money instead of Mission.

Maybe sacrificing some income generation or savings ability now would actually adjust your work towards your mission at the cost of an early retirement.

Is a life of working with a purpose worth working a little longer?

Is a life of following Jesus’ call worth reducing your lifestyle or work hours or sense of security?

What if your work for the next 30 years could feel like what you were made for, instead of like a necessary evil?

I believe it can. We just need to Get. On. Mission.