Money Planning for Retirement—Tiny Ant Principles Building Big Results
by Anita Agers-Brooks
When I was in my twenties, retirement felt forever away. Now in my fifties, I know the truth of James 4:14—we are but a mist that appears for a little while and then disappears. Time is a precious commodity we cannot recycle or get back.
Because retirement will arrive sooner than we realize, it’s important to prepare as early as possible. While in my twenties, my job in banking taught me a few simple secrets about preparing for retirement, principles common to a tiny insect referenced in the Bible. Today, I’m grateful I heeded its relevant counsel.
The lowly ant offers us insights about money-planning for our retirement, if we consider it from that perspective. Proverbs 6:6-8 tells us, “Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise. Without having any chief, officer, or ruler, she prepares her bread in summer and gathers her food in harvest” (ESV).
If you watch an ant colony over time, you will see them build a massive compound. Individuals combine their efforts, moving one grain of dirt or sand at a time, day after day, while storing necessary resources in appropriate seasons. Often, construction takes place underground, unseen by others. Striving consistently, they create crucial life support to help them survive. We too can prepare a harvest like the ant.
In the spring, summer and autumn years of our lives, we have the ability to prepare, gather and harvest financial fruit from our labors. But we must also store, or we will have nothing when winter arrives. Simple techniques show us how we can accumulate what we need to get us through our retirement years.
- Knowing when and how to pay your home mortgage payments can save you thousands, allowing you to invest more into retirement. If your home loan is structured to accrue simple interest with no pre-payment penalties, split your monthly payments into halves or quarters. Regularly paying half a monthly mortgage payment bi-weekly can shave an extra two and a half years off of a 15-year loan. For example, if your house payment is $1,200 per month, regularly pay $600 every other week instead. This budgeting change could save you approximately $21,600. If you receive a weekly paycheck from your employer, pay a quarter of your monthly mortgage amount every pay day for even greater savings. Like the ant does with singular grains, moving money off of your principal one small piece at a time builds big benefits.
- Ants do not work around the clock, even they take a break sometimes, escaping from their labor. If you are pinching pennies, cutting corners and saving steadily to build your retirement nest egg, allow yourself a periodic splurge. Going on a weekend getaway for a mental break from your normal grind is good for the soul, and could help your long-term savings. How? Anytime we are too restrictive in an area, we set ourselves up for misery or failure—sometimes both. Anxiety and spending binges are common by-products of compulsive hoarding. Allow yourself to enjoy some of your harvest now, or you may not remember how to later. Are you saving to live or living to save?
- Talk to your investment professional about mutual funds, a financial savings product following the team dynamics example of ant colonies, where everyone puts something in to build benefits for the greater good. Though you will see peaks and valleys in market percentage returns, if you start in your younger years, sharing risk with others in mutual funds can compound interest earnings, providing you with a financially healthy retirement.
- Splurge moderately on your family and friends while you can. In my years of banking and beyond, I’ve met many wealthy people, and they each have something in common with the rest of us—a truth about money. Riches won’t hold your hands during your final breaths, but investing in good relationships may mean you are not alone in your concluding moments. Take care of your loved ones and they will take care of you—much like ants. If you watch an ant colony for any length of time, you will see regular communication take place among its members, cooperation and support in each other’s work, and care for those who are weaker.
Be wise, and consider the ant when contemplating your retirement. Prepare while you are in your spring and summer seasons. In the fall, gather the harvest of your hard work. Store enough to get you through your winter. Make it your mission to balance between saving and splurging. And don’t forget to take care of your King. (Ants provide for their queen.)
Read the Bible and you will find many specific promises related to our investment in obeying God financially. When we pay tithes and offerings with a willing and cheerful heart, we receive a substantial return—not only in dollars and cents, but more importantly, in the treasures that last beyond retirement and our final breath.
Anita Brooks, CPT, CLTF, CCS, motivates others to dynamic break-throughs. Blending mind, heart, body and spirit, as an Inspirational Business/Life Coach, International Speaker and Common Trauma Expert. She shares hope and encouragement on the stage and from the page—reminding audiences, “It’s never too late for a fresh start with fresh faith.” Anita is also a multi-published, award-winning author of Getting Through What You Can’t Get Over, First Hired, Last Fired—How to Become Irreplaceable in Any Job Market and Death Defied-Life Defined: A Miracle Man’s Memoir. You can connect with Anita at anitabrooks.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org to contact her directly.
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