Part 8: Savings. Section B

Let’s recall the simple counsel from Proverbs chapter 13:11, “He who gathers money little by little makes it grow.” One of my close friends and someone whom I admire for his great heart for God ways said to me “save some of what you earn – always.” What great advice if in saving you are able to meet the pressing needs that later arise.

My next door neighbor, Bill Bodie, thirty years ago shared his own secret which has had a lasting impact on me: “Rusty,” he said, “years ago, my employer counseled me to develop the 10-10-80 habit. Tithe to the Lord, set aside 10 percent for investments, and live on the remaining 80 percent. You should make that your pattern.”

Almost all Christian financial counselors make the same points, but vary the minimum amount of savings from a low of 5% (to those still in debt) to a high of 20%. For a lot of different reasons, I would shoot hard for 10%. I would view the funds that result as personal “trust funds for piety,” but recognize that they may relieve your church community from extending care to you personally if you run into personal crisis of your own.

Now think about what these dollars “gathered little by little” can do if invested wisely. They should grow! Not just because you have added to them “little by little,” but because they themselves, invested wisely, have the power to grow! Catch that, they have the power to grow themselves. When I think about this, I have a picture in my mind of little dollar bills duplicating themselves – multiplying. Delightful!

What can this mean over your adult years? If you invested $1 at age 27 and let it grow at a 6% rate each year, it would have turned into $9 by the time you reached 65. To me, that is remarkable. But what is even more remarkable is the fact that if you earned only 2 percentage points per year more (i.e. 8%), the same dollar would have increased 17 TIMES – that is, it would be worth $17. Now think what would happen if you added each year to the amount you had invested!

If you in fact set aside each succeeding year an additional dollar, only increasing the amount you set aside by a low inflation rate of 3%, and let all the proceeds earn that same 8% rate of return, guess how much you would have? 280 times the amount you initially invested in the first year!

Let’s translate this into more realistic amounts. Suppose you set aside $750 each year, only increased by the 3% inflation rate. (What I mean here is that the first year you set aside $750 and the second year you set aside $773 (3% more), and so forth). Initially that is only $62.50 a month. You will have about $250,000 dollars when you turn 65.

If you saved $1000 the initial year instead of $750, you would have $330,000. And so forth.

Now let’s think in a very different way. Suppose you are a parent or a grandparent and you have just had born your first child or grandchild. Let’s further suppose that you set aside in your child’s name $250 this year into an investment which grows at 8% per annum plus you add to that amount each year in a similar amount until the child turns 20 years old. Your child would have a tidy $13,890 in that savings account. But suppose further that you did not touch that amount, nor make further gifts and let the balances continued to grow at 8%. Amazingly, your child would have $456,000 when he or she turned 65. Very nice.

This last example illustrates how compound interest works over time. The longer the time period, the more remarkable the results. You can see how starting at birth helps by looking at the investment balances of this example at different ages.

1 year old: $250
10 years old: $3,971
20 years old: $13,890
30 years old: $30,864
40 years old: $66,632
50 years old: $143,854
60 years old: $310,570
65 years old: $456,329

Note that after thirty years, the individual has amassed $30,864 but in just another thirty years that has grown four times and in another five years has reached the tidy sum of $456,329. Wow! And that was starting with just $250 the first year. You might say “That can’t be!” It is the power of compounding your earnings each year (adding in what is earned in your investment portfolio at a set rate of increase).

We will get into more detail on alternative ways to make your money grow in later modules, but don’t forget to invest a big portion of your earnings every paycheck. Later, I also will return to the tension between investing and Jesus’ clear admonition to not “lay up for yourself.” But right now, we need to cover our remaining top financial priorities: dealing with Family Needs, Ministries, and Those Who Work For Us.

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