During my family’s journey toward debt freedom we absorbed all sorts of material about how to win with money. It’s no surprise that the major bulk of our study was produced by Dave Ramsey, and that’s because we believed he knew what he was talking about and because his methods are saturated with Scripture.
One of the verses that came up was extremely powerful and convicting to me. Proverbs 13:22 says, “A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children, but the sinner’s wealth is laid up for the righteous.” Some translations of this verse use the word wise instead of good, but the impact is the same. I’m not so shallow to teach that this proverb is all about leaving a big pile of money for my grandkids, it’s more about leaving behind a legacy that touches my family for generations to come.
What was I leaving behind? What sort of foundation was I laying not only for my children, but for their children as well? It’s my responsibility to leave as many resources behind as I can for my family, but to also instill in them the wisdom to use those resources wisely.
In financial terms, that means being prepared for the future. You see, planning for retirement is not something we can do half-heartedly. Too many of us live the “good life” now by stealing from our own future. Even worse, we don’t realize that we’re also stealing from our childrens’ futures as well. How so? Who will end up paying my medical treatment and long-term care if I haven’t planned and saved for it? Where will I live if you can’t afford to support myself in my latter years?
My children will.
Have a Plan for Retirement
The hard truth is that if you fail to plan for your latter years, then you’re planning on becoming a burden to your family, church, or society. Those are hard words, and yes, circumstances arise that necessitate getting help, but the responsibility to prepare for the future belongs to you.
Think about it. Many people hit retirement age around the time their children are fully engaged in trying to save for their own retirement as well as trying to help their own children through college or otherwise get started in life. Should your children put their own retirement plans on hold because you didn’t plan yourself? Should your grandchildren take on massive debt for their education because their parents need to spend money to take care of you instead?
How about doing all you can to prepare for a future you know is coming? Dig in and start saving and investing so that you’re not a burden on our children, and so that you can live out your days with dignity and grace. Some of you will live 20 to 30 years beyond retirement. What if you could spend those years enjoying life, giving cheerfully, and teaching you grandchildren the life lessons you learned along the way?
Three Reasons Why
These are the reasons you need to plan for retirement—critical, important reasons that should resonate deep down in your soul:
- Prepare for retirement so that you leave a legacy behind. Do more than leave a pile of cash as an inheritance. Live a life that teaches your children and grandchildren how to wisely manage and appreciate their material wealth. This includes exemplifying gratitude and service—giving with an open hand from the blessings you’ve received. And don’t forget to protect the ones you love by getting your affairs in order—a valid will, sufficient life insurance, and anything else your family will need once you’re gone.
- Prepare for retirement so that you’re not a burden on your family, church, or society. Don’t make the mistake of believing Social Security will be enough. Even if there’s still money coming from the government by the time you retire, you’ll soon learn it often won’t cover your basic living expenses. Realize that you have no idea what the future holds—disaster, sickness, disability—and do all you can to prepare for the “what ifs.” Save, invest, purchase long-term care insurance at age 60—take responsibility for your own future rather than leaving it to your children.
- Prepare for retirement so that your final years can be lived with dignity. Though it may become necessary for health reasons, I doubt many of us want to spend our final years in a cut-rate nursing home or long-term care facility. I doubt many of us want to live our final years counting every penny, worrying whether we’ll buy food, pay the electric bill, or refill this month’s prescription. Wouldn’t it be better to be able to live independently, free from worry over paying for basic necessities? That won’t happen without an intentional plan.
Don’t let time get away from you. No matter your age, if you haven’t started preparing for retirement you need to get started—the sooner the better. Be responsible and take the steps necessary to enter your retirement years with hope, knowing you’ve done your best to leave a legacy, care for your family, and finish your time on this earth with dignity.
Also published on Medium.
I’m Jeff M. Miller, and I help ordinary people who are stuck in a rut change their behaviors so they can be extraordinary. I’m an entrepreneur who retired from my full-time job in my early 40s to work from home. I’m a financial counselor, life coach, graphic designer, and passionate believer in helping others improve their lives a little more each day.
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