Live long and prosper? God knows the plans He has for you, but do you?

She said she never expected to live this long. “I’m a working woman again,” she said. At many times in her life, Roberta didn’t have a steady job that paid into Social Security. She didn’t receive a pension either.

What is a Christian adult’s financial responsibility to his or her family?

Are you the primary breadwinner in your home? Did you and your spouse build your future on both incomes? Do your aging parents rely on you to make ends meet? Are your kids dependent on your dollars?

Does your spouse or family rely on you to ensure the bills are paid, the home is comfortable, their bellies are full, and the lights are on? What about contingencies – if you lost your job today, would you go into a full-on panic or do you have a nest egg stowed away for emergencies?

The book of 1 Timothy 5:8 tells us that believers who fail to care for their relatives, especially for their own household, is worse than an unbeliever. That sounds harsh but those in their rightful positions under God have an obligation to provide.

In context, that 1 Timothy passage was written by the Apostle Paul in a day when widows were especially needy and vulnerable since they lacked income and couldn’t own property. They were often relegated to sad lives of poverty when their husbands passed. There was no welfare system or Social Security benefits.

Of course, neglect has been present from the start, and there were times when the financial head of a family didn’t provide for elderly relatives. Hence, Paul spoke out and said that those who practiced such neglect were worse than infidels.

We can draw several conclusions from Paul’s teaching, but one is this: we should not neglect our personal responsibilities. Another is this: if we can do for ourselves, we should do for ourselves. If we can’t, that’s another story.

I read a story just the other day about Roberta Gordon, a 76-year-old California woman, who receives a $915 a month stipend through Social Security and Supplemental Security Income, a program for low-income seniors.

Unfortunately, Roberta pays $1,040 a month in rent, and she has been taking on credit-card debt to cover that $125 shortfall. That doesn’t take into account utilities, food, and other basic essentials for comfort and living. She sometimes goes to a church food bank for supplies. Every Saturday, Roberta goes down to the local grocery store and hands out samples, earning $50 for the day, because she needs the money.

She said she never expected to live this long. “I’m a working woman again,” she said. At many times in her life, Roberta didn’t have a steady job that paid into Social Security. She didn’t receive a pension either. And she didn’t make enough money to put aside a regular portion for retirement.

Unfortunately, Roberta’s story is a familiar one, and thousands across the U.S. can tell a similar tale.

In these challenging and uncertain days, many Baby Boomers are reaching retirement age without enough savings. Many of us are reaching retirement age and we don’t have the pensions that workers in previous generations did. We also don’t have enough money in our 401(k)s or our savings accounts to sustain our cost of living. The average American has $65,000 in retirement savings. In today’s economy, that just won’t take you or me very far. We need to plan.

Are we to trust God to see us through? Absolutely! But our great God gave us five senses and the ability and desire to work – we are not called to simply sit back and do nothing. We are to work as unto the Lord – Colossians 3:23.

As more and more Boomers reach retirement age - 8,000 to 10,000 Americans turn 65 every day – poverty is sadly on the rise for the elderly. Today’s seniors are often reliant on Social Security because starting in the 1970s, companies that once provided pensions began to turn the responsibility of retirement saving over to individuals.

Rather than “defined benefit” plans, which guaranteed longtime workers a certain amount of money every year in retirement, workers began opting into “defined contribution” plans, which means the employer sets aside a certain amount of money per year. This switch saved companies a great deal of money because it asked employees, not employers, to take on the risks associated with long-term investing. So, the amount of money we receive is more affected by the ups and downs of the stock market, our individual salaries, and shifting interest rates.

The bottom line is this. We need to be financially responsible for our families. Here are a few tips, courtesy Just Us Limited:

Invest as Early as Possible. The old cliché is true – it’s never too late to start. There’s something called the power of compounding returns and it really works. As a basic example, if you invest $300 per month at an 11% annual return starting at age 37, you’ll have about $260,000 by age 57. But if you start at age 25 with the same rate of return, you’ll be a millionaire by age 57. In other words, investing the same amount of money but starting 12 years earlier can quadruple your retirement nest egg. Yes, there are some variables there, and setting aside $300 per month might not be achievable for some, but whatever amount you can start with, start with that.

Build an Emergency Fund. Emergency funds cover those unexpected financial surprises that can catch us all off-guard. The surprise medical diagnosis that throws you for a loop; the once-reliable car that breaks down once a month and costs you a couple of car notes; the relative who just needs you to tide them over this one time; these things can and do occur. Without an emergency fund, you’re tempted or forced to go into credit card debt – that’s not a good idea. Financial guru Dave Ramsey advises that you build an emergency fund with at least $1,000 in it – to start. Ideally, your emergency fund should be able to cover 3-6 months of expenses if you “lost everything.”

Make a Budget. Vanessa has been very patient with me over the years because I resisted a budget for more than a decade. But I’ve come to recognize the value in them. How can you understand where your money is going unless you track it? Be cognizant of unnecessary expenditures. Get rid of them. I have a relative who kept a storage for more than five years, paying $80 a month. When he finally went to retrieve his items – furniture, bedding, sound equipment, etc. – it was too late. The rats had beat him to it. You don’t have to be an absolute tyrant about it but try out a budget for a few months and see if it doesn’t benefit you.

The average life span of an American is 77 years. God knows our futures, and if our trust is genuinely in Him, the riches that await us beyond these finite living years are far beyond our comprehension and understanding. But while we are on earth, shouldn’t we be good stewards of our time, our talents, and our treasure? Yes, we should. Let’s do right by our families. He has a plan for us! Let’s plan to work – and work the plan!

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