Is Your Retirement at Risk?

For many American workers, retirement is the pinnacle, the highest point.  We work and work and work in jobs that we may or may not like so we can take it easy and relax in our golden years.  It’s an interesting position we find ourselves in today.

On CNBC.com this morning, one of the headlines reads States Scaling Back Worker Pensions to Save Money.

First, we must consider whether the idea of retirement is even a Biblical Practice.  I would contend that it is non-essential, but also non-Biblical in nature.  Let’s review this in a bit more detail, then we’ll get into the solution.

Scripture References

The LORD said to Moses, “This applies to the Levites: Men twenty-five years old or more shall come to take part in the work at the Tent of Meeting, but at the age of fifty, they must retire from their regular service and work no longer. They may assist their brothers in performing their duties at the Tent of Meeting, but they themselves must not do the work. This, then, is how you are to assign the responsibilities of the Levites.” Numbers 8: 23-26 (NIV)

And there you have it.  That is the only reference to retirement in scripture.  No tee times, no vacations, no sleeping late.  No, the Levites, at age 50, were to give up their day to day routines in exchange for being the ‘help’ to the younger guys.

Abraham, Joshua, Moses, David, Solomon, Paul, Peter, John…No, none of them make mention of retirement.

Retirement: What is it?

In the late 1800’s, a political leader in Germany had a real problem.  His younger workers could not find work.  In an effort to employ his younger workers, Otto Von Bismark came up with an Austerity plan to provide economic support for his older workers to give room to the younger workers.  Ultimately, that plan came to America in the form of pension plans and our modern version of Social Security in the first quarter of the 20th century.  You can read more about this on the Social Security Administration’s history page.

The reality of retirement is that it is a 130 year old practice that was designed by politicians to encourage people to stop working.  What interests me about this is the average age of our politicians in Washington.  I do believe they are getting younger, however, we have some seniors in Congress and on the Supreme Court who are in their 70’s and 80’s.  65 came and went for them.  They are still quite active in their political roles.

Prior to the retirement systems, people worked on farms, ranches and ran their own small businesses in town.  When they could no longer work themselves, their children took over the work.  Self-sufficiency has been the way Americans prospered and cared for them selves for the last several centuries, that is until this last one.

Solutions

It is 2012.  Our Social Security systems are in dire straights.  30 years ago, private sector employers shifted from the pension system to the participatory 401k plans where employees were encouraged to save for their retirement.  In 2011, newly retiring baby boomers were asked if they were ready for retirement.  Nearly 80% of them said no way.  They did’t have enough saved for a 20-25 year span to support themselves.

Friends, many people get angry about entitlement programs like social security and medicare.  I’m here to let you in on a secret.  Employment is the biggest entitlement program out there.  When we gave up self-sufficiency in the name of a good job where we traded our time for dollars, the mindset of asking others to provide for us was inbred.

If we want to see things change in the future, let’s consider a new approach to life and shift back to a self-sufficient model.  It’s time we learn the fundamental rules to making money for ourselves through our own innovation and creativity.

I recently met a Mennonite gentlemen from a community south of where we live.  In their community, they all have trades and businesses to support the community as a whole.  We didn’t get into a lot of conversation, but I realized that this was truly God’s plan for us to be dependent upon one another in our communities of faith.

In society today, advertising and marketing agencies push more and more ‘jobs’ and they promote independence which ultimately is causing a down fall.

True retirement comes when our income is replaced with other income.  When you can learn how to support yourself based on income that comes in whether you are working or not, then you can stop working for the man to do what you are passionate about.

Ideas include, real estate ventures, cash producing web based businesses, vending services, franchise ownership, etc., etc.  There are many different ways to create income if you sit and think of your resources.  We are not a society trapped by the ‘job’ unless we succumb to that mindset.

If your retirement is based on someone else providing a pension or a social security plan, you’re at a much greater risk than you may currently believe.  It’s time to make some adjustments to your plan.

God Bless you.

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