Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Planning for a dignified retirement

I post on a homeschool forum. Earlier this week, a thread was started regarding "dignified" retirement. The thread started off with a planner telling the couple they needed $2 million in savings. It developed into a discussion of how to save money, what methods for saving, etc.

Thinking that I am funnier than I usually am, I said that at this stage, my retirement plans were having four sons and spending three months of the year with each of them. Hopefully, at least one will live somewhere warm for me and Dad to visit!

I explained my vision of multi-generational family, that my parents or inlaws are ALWAYS welcome to live with us, any time they want. I really admire how the Amish care for their families. And I would hope that my children, having seen how their great-grandmas have been cared for, and will see us care for their grandparents, will consider that a part of life. Not that I would be a bum - I expect Nevin and I will work till we give out. I'd like to be available to help my sons and daughter-in-laws with my grandchildren, with their homes- however they need.

I got socked back and told that I was not scriptural in my approach - not like the ant in Proverbs, and leaving an inheritance for my children you know!

Once I cooled down, here was my response:

"I honor my parents, and am training up my children to do the same. There are a whole lot of scripture on supporting the poor, the work of the church, spreading the gospel - and we gave away a big chunk of our gross last year to our church, pregnancy care center and various missionaries and local ministries. That's they stuff I have paperwork for, and does not include all the times we "pass the hat" in church to help someone out. And doggone it, it is just plain exciting when they make an announcement in church of a need and to be able to reach in my wallet and pull out some cash and KNOW that I am providing for someone else's need out of my surplus - as God would provide for mine out of someone elses' if need be. And you never know, that could happen.

As far as saving goes, I try to save 10% of our income for emergencies (and family fun) and have a slowly growing "chunk" in investments. My husband and I own our own business and work dilligently.

I am not a fool who throws money out the window. However - having had a chunk of (inherited) money in the past and gone to being plain broke and in debt, and to have rebuilt, but still recognizing that being self-employed some months we are rich and some months hey! at least we get to keep the house....I no longer put my trust in money, myself, what I can save, the stock market, the government.........I can build a big barn to store all I have, like that farmer, to sit back and enjoy my days, and have it all disappear in an instant, and my life be forfeit this very night.

I KNOW I have children with needs now - I KNOW there is God's work to be done now - I DON'T know what the future holds - I plan the best I can but I refuse to worry and I have lots of kids.

My mother-in-law and mother have left me an inheritance in that I saw both of them take care of their mothers, and I got to help take care of Grandma. My boys got to see my mother-in-law take care of her mother. I will leave that inheritance to my children - they will see us care for their grandparents. If there is any money left, that is an added bonus.

My grandmother left a sizeable financial inheritance to my mom, but the last 15 years of her life all she did was worry about money. I will not live that way. My mom is financially comfortable and while we make jokes about her spending my inheritance, I hope she does. She does good with her money, she puts some aside for my kids' college, and she HAS FUN and hopefully does not worry. And she knows that she ALWAYS has a place in my home.

So, will we be ready for a dignified retirement?

That is going to depend on your definition of dignified retirement. I don't know that we will ever be really retired - I think we may just change occupations (didn't someone mention Wal-Mart greeter a few posts back?).

How we prepare for anything is going to be colored by our past experiences. And we all have different experiences. I don't believe there is a wrong or right way that fits everyone. I think most folks are just doing their best every day."

And another lady posted this:

"There are many scriptures about careful planning----and many scriptures about making God your primary focus and forgetting the rest.

We have to find a balance between the two, and how that looks is going to be different for every individual."

I think she said that beautifully, and with much fewer words than I used!

Another mom posted this, and I think this truly sums it up for me:

"Let me just say that I will have a dignified retirement, should God grant me the plethora of years to reach it, by being a faithful loving devoted woman of God, rising up and lying down with His will in my heart and mind, putting my hands, back, mind and mouth to His use with every ounce of my being.

Whether or not I have a fat pocketbook by which to meet any financial need, or to pay off things for others, I will not presume to worry, as I am living 'today', serving 'today'."

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