Thursday, April 2, 2009

RRSP or live the life of a sparrow

how do you spend your money? anyone who knows me knows that i'm pretty ... frugal? no, i'm cheap. i don't spend money. right now there's some medical stuff going on for us so i'm continuing in my frugal ways. i have some RRSP's though and we do have a pension plan through work.
we had a discussion in our church community recently about finances and in truth, we don't talk about money much. we really need to though.
some believe that we should use our resources as part of service and we shouldnt worry about how we'll end up when the dying of the light is nearer. their argument is that God cares for the sparrows and He'll care for you too. so a person who believes that way would argue vehemently that a Christian (or at least a person in our church community) should make all funds available for service and one shouldn't concern himself with saving, RRSP's, retirement, insurance. basically don't worry about money, give it away and let God care for you ... grasshopper.
i suppose i agree with some of that in principle. if a Christian were to follow Jesus truly; would he have more than one set of clothes? would he own a house? would he pursue education? would he ... i don't know, would he own a tv? i suppose the answer to some of those questions may be NO but at the same time, my answer for all of those questions has been yes.
the discussion started because it was suggested in our AGM for our church community that perhaps we should provide a RRSP contribution for our servant leaders while they are leading us. we wanted to make the position more "palatable" so that people would WANT to become a servant leader. some in the circle objected to the idea that we'd provide a RRSP for someone. i didn't understand why, until this recent discussion.
i'm a welfare worker so i've seen more than my share of folks at rock bottom in our society. regularly i see, "there but for the grace of God, go i". now i've worked my tail off to get where i am and i freely admit that i'm blessed but i also say that i got some breaks because i was working hard to get where i am. my wife and i have seen some hard times, we still see them, and what happens if medical bills become so big that we can't pay them? we'd rely on others i suppose. but what if the bills got that way because we didn't do anything about them when we had the means to pay them? isn't that irresponsible? am i being a good steward if i don't pay my bills? well, no i don't think i am.
is it right to provide for your future? i say it's more than right, it's mandatory. would you choose not to feed your children if you had the means simply because you wanted to give more to the church? don't be silly. so why wouldn't you fail to plan for your own future? why fail to plan for a time when you might not have the means? yes, you'd be a burden on your family but youre going to be that anyway and families carry one another. isn't it better to lessen the burden when you can?
we in Canada have the Canada Pension Plan and Old Age Security that we pay into, but at the same time the population is getting older and who's to say that there'll be much of anything to collect by the time the baby-boomers get to an age that they can collect. what would i do if there's a pittance of a CPP and OAS coming in and i had nothing else to supplement it with? go hungry i suppose.
there's an implication here too that i react to. somehow it seems less spiritual to plan for retirement. the statements have been (quite literally) that we should live day to day and trust God to provide but that carries the implication that i'm less spiritual or less faithful because i have a pension and RRSP's for when i retire. i react to that. responsibility isn't a lack of faith. i still believe and i'll trust that we'll all support one another. we'll do what we need to do to help one another along the road, but i still ask why not prepare ahead of time so that the burden isn't quite so burdensome.
maybe i do have less faith. maybe i don't trust God enough. but at the same time, i've seen a LOT in this world and i don't want to be too much of a burden if i don't have to be. if we're "in this thing" called our church community then it'll be your kids who have to help prop up old guys like me along the way. yeah, i get that's exactly what we should be doing as the church but we should at least plan things out a bit so that maybe ALL of us don't have to be propped up.
just one guy's opinion.

1 comment:

Stainers said...

Great conversation piece here Ian.

A example from my own life that strikes home for me.

My grandparents have lived with the philosophy that God will take care of all of their needs and have avoided having savings, owning a home etc etc.

Now they live in my mom's old home paying next to no rent (because they can't afford any more) and both still working odd jobs etc in their late 70s (because they can't afford not to). They are quite a burden to others right now. Some might say that the extra cash they had in the past was used to help out those less fortunate etc, but it could also be argued that had they planned better and saved etc, then they could have continued that support of others even now, instead of being on the other side of coin.

I'm not entirely sure what the "answer" is (that's sort of a theme as I get older), but this is a great discussion with good points on both sides.