The Power of a Plan: 8 Principles to Follow

If you asked most Americans the question, “Is financial security important to you?” chances are you would receive an overwhelmingly positive response.  Yet, according to a recent Gallup Poll, lack of retirement funds is most Americans’ biggest worry or fear.  So where is the disconnect?  I would suggest that it all has to do with having (or not having) a plan.  It’s often been commented that most Americans spend more time planning their vacations than they do their retirements.  Most of us would laugh at that as it first hits our ears, understanding the irony of the statement. Yet, as I thought about it more, I began to think back to the many hours, and even days, that I spent planning our honeymoon trip to Maui.  Looking back, I was fully invested into the process and maybe even borderline fanatical about it!  In my defense, this was our honeymoon , and I knew that this was a trip that my wife and I had been dreaming of taking our entire lives and I wanted to pull out all of the stops and make sure every single detail was planned out and extra special.  So, with unwavering focus, passion, and attention to detail, I began to plan.  What surprised me the most is how much fun I had simply in the planning stage!  As I scoured the internet for the best deals on our airfare, hotel and even the rental car; I immersed myself in the experience.  I must have looked at a couple thousand pictures in my quest to find the perfect hotel room.  Adding to that, I knew that we wanted to go on the best “excursions” Maui had to offer so I spent even more time searching for the right rental car (insert a couple hundred more pictures here).  Understanding that the flight was arduously long, I planned for the most direct route possible (for my new bride’s comfort, of course), which took several more hours of web searching and mouse clicks.  In the end, I was confident that all of my hard work more than paid off as I sat across from my wife night after night at dinner, watching her eyes sparkle in one of the most beautiful places on earth.  The flight went great, the Oceanside Hut was perfect, and the rental car was more than adequate.  Adding to the joy of the trip was the fact that we got excellent deals on almost every part of the trip, so it was a financial success as well.  Mission accomplished! After reminiscing about the fantastic trip that we took and how well everything turned out, I started to think about the statistic of retirement planning verses vacation planning.  Could it be possible that I was the worst offender?  Wanting to solve this issue for myself, I began to take a mental inventory in an attempt to figure out why this phenomenon happens.  A few thoughts hit me right away as I compared the two “plans”: Planning a Vacation: Involves a person (or people) that I love deeply whom I don’t want to disappoint or hurt. Involves a “reward” for me personally. Involves disappointment and embarrassment if I fail in planning it. Planning My Retirement: Involves a person (or people) that I love deeply whom I don’t want to disappoint or hurt. Involves a “reward” for me personally. Involves disappointment and embarrassment if I fail in planning it. Notice the similarity?  Obviously, this list is not exhaustive and everyone’s may be different.  However, these were the common themes that I saw as I sought to figure out why people don’t spend more time planning their financial futures.  The answer comes not in the “why”, but in the “when.”  Unfortunately, our culture today has ingrained in us the ability to have instant access to anything we want at any time of the day.  From lightning-fast technology to all-night eateries, we can have whatever we want, whenever we want.  Remember the days when we had to travel to the library to study or to do research for a paper that we had to write?  Not so anymore.  Now, we can walk into any room of our own homes and access the entire world at our fingertips.  We have become, by proxy, programmed to seek instant gratification.  This can be devastating when it comes to our financial situation because having financial security and building a lasting retirement account takes three things: TIME, DISCIPLINE, and PATIENCE.  Going back to my honeymoon example, my wife and I received our instant gratification and reward in a relatively short amount of time.  It was a short-term plan that paid off huge!  This is simply not true with retirement since retirement is a marathon, not a sprint.  It is planning for the long-term and having that delayed gratification that I believe cripples many Americans into financial misery. Fortunately, there are 8 financial principles that we can live by that can break this cycle, allowing us to leave a legacy for our families. Principle #1 – Live Within Your Means (Budgeting is included here). Principle #2 – Establish Reserves .  Have an emergency fund for rainy days. (Proverbs 21:20) Principle #3 – Understand Debt . “The Borrower is Slave to the Lender” (Proverbs 22:7). Principle #4 – Anticipate Risks .  Understand the importance of Protecting from “What Ifs” (Proverbs 22:3) Principle #5 – Spend Wisely . (Proverbs 21:17) Principle #6 – Invest Wisely . (Proverbs 13:11; Matthew 25:14-30) Principle #7 –  Simplify Your Lifestyle (Matthew 6:19-21) Principle #8 – Share Your Blessings by Giving (Proverbs 11:24-25; 13:22; 2 Corinthians 9:6-11) To have financial security, we must apply God’s wisdom to our lives.  To have money, we must not only learn how to EARN it, we must also learn how to KEEP it and properly USE it! This guest post is part of the  CPF Writer Auditions .  It was written by Adam Simon: a devoted Christian, husband, and father of four.  Through his writing, speaking, and love of God, Adam shares his personal message of faith and family with people everywhere.  You can reach him at  asimon126@gmail.com . Photo by  madmarv00 Related Articles: Financial Freedom Using God’s Plan How Money Works: 10 Principles Everyone Should Know 4 Fundamentals of Christian Financial Advice Retirement Plans (Part 2) – IRAs: Roth vs Traditional What is a Roth 401(k)? 6 benefits you might care about… How And When To Start Saving For Retirement Fix Social Security by Changing Retirement Age to 70? This article was written by a Guest Author. If you would like to write a guest post for ChristianPF , you can find out how here . The articles on this site are for entertainment purposes and should not be taken as financial advice. 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The Power of a Plan: 8 Principles to Follow

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