When I was in my twenties, I cared very little about my financial future… I was interested in the money I was making now! I wanted to buy a new car, get a better apartment, maybe get married, have kids – all the things we are raised in the United States to want for ourselves. Saving money for when I was older was not on my list of things to accomplish before I turned 30!
But, my father – who is a Southern Baptist pastor – taught me two things about money for which I shall be eternally grateful. The first is to make sure that I tithe. It’s a biblical principal of giving back. The Bible teaches that we are to give a tenth of our earnings back to the original source (God) with a grateful heart. Those monies allow His work to continue, and allow the church or other charitable organization to help others who might not have as much as I do be able to provide food, shelter or health care for their families.
My heart has been lifted so many times, as I have learned how I have helped families through giving to some fund to help send a child to an expensive hospital thousands of miles away for specialized medical care, or providing food for a needy family, or nice clothes for a single mother who needs to go apply for a job to help her children. Tithing – giving back – is not just good for those in need, but, it fulfills a need within each of us to be a part of something bigger than ourselves. The return on investment is immense – not just in monetary value to our society and culture, but in emotional and social benefits as well.
The second financial advice my father gave me was to invest. At the time, I didn’t have a lot of money to invest. My work in radio as a disk jockey was not an extremely profitable one in rural Mississippi. But, still, I placed another 10 percent of my income into a safe annuity at the time. $25 a week isn’t a lot of money, but, with sheltered investments in high, moderate and low risk opportunities, what started out as a $1,300 a year contribution in 1988 continues to grow – even in this down economy.
Thirteen hundred dollars a year has grown, and my investments have both increased in amount and types of investments. But, I keep that annuity in place. It’s a reminder of why I invest… and of the truth my father taught me. “Put the money in, leave it in, don’t ever touch it, and let it grow,” he told me. “If you’ll do that,” he said, “when you have to take it out, you’ll be very happy you did.”
He was so very correct!
Next year, I turn 50. I’m nowhere near retirement. But, if I wanted to, I could! My measly $25 a week contribution increased to about $75 a week before I started investing into other vehicles. When I began to diversify, I continued to keep that annuity investment going… but, back at the $25 a week level.
There have been times, I was tempted to just pull that annuity out and spend it, re-invest it, or just get it out of that account. Resistance to temptation is very difficult at times… especially after the government’s housing finance debacle that led to the 2008 collapse. I was tempted to pull all of my investments out and just bury them in jars in the backyard. The interest rate might have been even better, especially if I had planted trees nearby those jars!
But, I kept investing. In that annuity, and money markets, and other retirement funds. Still, that annuity fund I began at age 23 provides for me the security my wife and I need to know that we’ll be ok today, and in the future. It will provide for us the funds we need to survive – and to thrive! Today, my investments are above seven digits in value – because I followed my dad’s advice. Put it in. Keep putting it in. And never take it out, until the day you retire.