The Power of a Plan: 8 Principles to Follow

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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:

  1. Involves a person (or people) that I love deeply whom I don’t want to disappoint or hurt.
  2. Involves a “reward” for me personally.
  3. Involves disappointment and embarrassment if I fail in planning it.

Planning My Retirement:

  1. Involves a person (or people) that I love deeply whom I don’t want to disappoint or hurt.
  2. Involves a “reward” for me personally.
  3. 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

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34 Comments
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  1. michael mader

    Very interesting and inspiring, was full of information and very well written!

  2. Very beautifully written :)

  3. Kinda Hupman

    This is a great article for believers. It is simple enough for the lay-person to understand. Great Principles.

  4. Chad Hulcy

    Adam,

    Really enjoyed the article. Praying that God uses you and the article for his glory.

  5. Kim Thomson

    very well written! :-)

  6. Well writen and enjoyed tips, the 8 principles are so easy but, we seem to struggle with them all the time. These are to be kept and studied on a regular basis.

  7. You have encouraged me to look at planning my retirement more carefully and to think of it as a marathon. Little by little I will get there! Thanks!

  8. Michael Mader

    Great article and full of excellent points. Very well written!

  9. Jim McClelland

    Adam, nice post. It all makes a lot of sense however, I wonder if the underlying problem of planning for financial security isn’t with the three foundational “things” you mention. Our present day society doesn’t seem to have much Time, Discipline or Patience.

  10. Nancy Reinhold

    Thank you for such an informative and thought provoking article.

  11. nathan

    Awesome article. Wish there was more material like this out there for Christians in today’s day and age

  12. David R. Curd

    The introduction of planning a vacation is more than likely to attract attention by the casual reader; especially honeymoon. The 8 steps are simple, easy to follow and produce results. This is important when the folks who are looking to retire, might not have social security to help. Our married children are all in the “boat” when it comes to following Simon’s list. This may be entertainment to some, but the thoughtful person will take a second look at the list.

  13. Lannette Deese

    Very insightful!! More people need to be aware and focusing on their futures.

  14. Eric Z

    Adam,

    I love the 8 principles, especially the 1st one, but I would add another one:
    Professional Financial Services from a Godly Financial Advisor.

    It’s people like you who make following these principles possible for most of us. As a very satisfied custome, thank you for giving solid, Bibilical Financial Advice and Investment/Insurance strategies.

    I included a Scriture reference that came to me when I was reading your article that fits nicely under Principle #1:

    Lk 14:28
    “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? 29 For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, 30 saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’ 31 “Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 32 If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. 33 In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples. 34 “Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? 35 It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out.

    “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.”

  15. Your expert authoring shows in this post! Not only did you catch attention, but you simply linked it to what’s most important. This post was easy to follow and potently impact-ful (just reading the comments above confirms it). Nathan hit the nail on the head – we need more of this out there! Looking forward to your future writings, work, and inspirations!

  16. Nicole C.

    Great article, Adam! So true that (mentally) it’s easier to plan for a vacation than a retirement. Since the reward comes sooner. We get easily duped into thinking we have “time”; when in essence we really don’t. Personally speaking, putting a plan in action is the toughest part. But it is doable. I liked how you tied in the two 3-step “plans”. When read from that view, it makes perfect sense.

  17. Good tips, Adam. I would add something though that I believe most people overlook because our culture is so child-centered/self-centered. That is to train our children that it is their responsibility to care for their aging parents. Although I realize that is not something to take security in for your future, if your children are on board with you and you can trust they will be looking out for your best interest in your last years, you are far ahead of the game.

    • Adam Simon

      Carol,

      That is such a great point to bring up, and Jared’s article (the one prior to mine) nails it! With the amount of Baby Boomers that are in their sunset years, I would imagine that there are very few people out there that don’t know a loved one who may need care in the very near future. Thank you for reading!

  18. Eric Ohde

    Well done my friend, this is a very well written article. Anyway we can get people to live within their means, save for retirement and pay it forward to help others, we have made a real difference. Keep up the good work!

  19. Christine

    Very inspiring and painfully true! I spend obnoxious amount of time planning (and daydreaming!) about vacations and not enough time planning for my financial future!

  20. Pam Reynolds

    I loved the similarities between planning a vacation and planning for retirement — never thought about it quite like that. And the principles made it easy to pinpoint which areas I may be lacking. Practical and helpful, thanks, Adam, for a great article!

  21. this is a nice convicting kick in the pants as I finish planning the yearly vacation …

    • Adam Simon

      Mike,

      I couldn’t help but laugh as I read your comment! Obviously, you know the story of my honeymoon and I can safely say that the same amount of planning has gone into all of our subsequent trips. I face the same painful truth every time, my friend! Thanks again for the laugh!

  22. Andy petry

    Fantastic insight! This is going to be crucial for believers to under take as we strive to be good stewards of all the Lord has entrusted us with.

  23. Very good, Biblically sound advice on finances. Looking forward to seeing more of your work in future articles!

  24. anonymous

    I like for #3 you said “Understand” Debt instead of “Don’t have debt.” Debt is a tool and for those without discipline it’s better not to have it, but the verse just tells us about debt instead of outlawing it completely, like some people seem to think.

  25. Planning is a great key to success, I know that well! Because of nice plans there are many business transactions that are into success so If people will plan well, I am pretty sure that all will be a success. Also in planning for expenses and other financial matters.

  26. Love those principles especially this: Principle #1 – Live Within Your Means ! Yes, we must live with in our means. We must live on how we can live.

  27. Great article. Very inspiring!

  28. mike locricchio

    adam:
    great job!

    mike

  29. Charles R

    Thank you for this great article. Well written and informative.

  30. Truman Potter

    Adam

    Great article! Very applicable as I return from our family vacation and start paying the stack of bills on my desk:)

  31. I think that “Live Within Your Means” is often said but not really explained, other than, “don’t spend more than you have.” In terms of planning ahead (esp. for retirement) the explaination doesn’t make much sense. For example: we currently can live, within our means, a fancy life style. To spend less than we make, easy! But in light of planning ahead, mind you not far enough, but still – we plan to pay $2K extra on mortgage principle. Is this the smartest thing-? Don’t know… Should that money rather be put to savings or retirement-? Don’t know… If we don’t send it to the mortgage we’ll wind up paying double or triple the house price! That sounds horrible to me! —-

    So living within in your means really does have to be changed to ‘plan within your means’ so that you plan ahead and not just be concerned with overspending issues.

  32. Jonathan K

    I love the 8 principles! Budgeting is so important. Having an emergency fund has saved us a lot of needless stress. Getting out of debt using the snowball strategy has been so freeing. I think I agree with Bob I am now “allergic” to debt.

    I would agree with Eric Z on adding one thing – Get a Godly financial advisor. This can be your parents, grandparents, etc. as well as an actual paid advisor. Sometimes you can even have people who do this as a ministry for free.

    Some very good advice Dave Ramsey bives is “If you want to be rich people, do what rich people do.” Also, Dave Ramsey says “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”

    Change. Bottom line.

    This can only be done with God’s help and guidance.

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