All of us wants to see our money grow. But we are seeing an increasing number of people piling up their debts with little or no savings. A lot of us like to spend money but do not like to save. And although most of us know how to work for money, few know how to make the money work for them. Therefore, it is time for us to save and invest.
In the house of the wise are stores of choice food and oil, but a foolish man devours all he has.
~ Proverbs 21:20
In the Bible, the ants are commended for saving for a future need (Proverbs 30:24-25). Many times, in order for us to save, it requires self-denial – denying on expenditure today so that we will have something to spend for the future. Unfortunately as Singaporeans, we are developing a culture of self-indulgence, not self-denial. We live in the society where when we want something, we want it immediately.
In Matthew 25:14-30, Jesus tells the story of a man who left money for three of his servants to invest.
The master commended the first two servants for investing the money wisely and condemned the third for not doing anything about it. Sometimes, we Christians are so scared of taking any legitimate risk. In our context today, we need to invest and save in any investment that can yield 3% so as to beat inflation.
Putting money in the bank will erode our money with the 0.5% to 1% interest. Saving money consistently requires self-denial. For some, it may require a change of lifestyle. We may have to stop ourselves from spending on our wants. Nobody is going to beg you to save unless you really want to. Most advertisers and merchandisers are telling us to spend, spend and spend.
Learn from the ants, who store up food in the summer so they will have something to eat in the winter (Proverbs 6:6-8). Arrange an automatic payroll deduction to channel your funds to either a savings plan or account so that a certain portion of your income is saved regularly. Ideally set aside at least 10% of everything you earn into a saving plan but if you cannot do that, then save whatever you can, but save something.
I do not think that the Bible is against us from investing but we must check our motives before we invest.
The Bible condemns the motivation to get rich instantly, but you invest because you do not think it is wise to throw away money that God has entrusted to you. When you gamble at casinos and play the lottery, the odds are against you. It is almost a guaranteed way to lose money. Placing your money in the stock market, on the other hand, is an investment decision and a way of planning for the future.
With the help of a financial advisor, your chances of increasing your funds should outweigh the risks if you have a long-term horizon.
The following table shows the annualised returns and risks of Singapore shares, bonds and cash between January 1995 and August 2009.
Source: Morning, SGD, dividend reinvested. Shares refer to MSCJ Singapore. Bonds refer to UOB Singapore. Government securities index. Cash refers to 1-month Singapore interbank bid rate. All returns refer to the annualised average rate of returns. Risk refers to the standard deviation of returns.
For someone who has never invested before, I strongly recommend that you find a good financial advisor. As a matter of fact, I think even the experienced investors need a financial advisor. Find someone who is experienced, ethical, an expert and who shares the same value with you and start investing.
- What happens to those who put their wealth before God? (Proverbs 28:20).
- What are the consequences for not diligently managing and investing money? (Proverbs 24:33-34).
- How important are effort and discipline in our financial activities? (Proverbs 14:23, 21:5).