Instead of using an entire post for my 2024 outlook, I wanted to talk about Roth IRAs. More specifically, we’re going to look at how a Roth IRA is a tool in the battle between good and evil. Sounds crazy, right? Just bear with me.
As Christians, we know that battle is over because Jesus has already conquered sin and death. Unfortunately, we do have to deal with sin in this world until Jesus returns. One way we can check sin’s power is by pursuing financial independence.
Roth IRAs are a great tool to help us pursue financial independence.
We may not realize it, but saving for retirement is a massive statement of faith. You know you won’t access the money in a Roth IRA account until later. You are trusting God to bless you in such a way that you won’t need that money until then.
Saving with a purpose through financial planning is not greed. It is also not selfish. We are often misled here because the devil wants us to struggle. Jesus said we will face struggles in this world, so we could try to prepare for them (John 16:33).
Struggle is not necessarily bad if it helps us grow and mature, but evil loves to see us struggle aimlessly. Unfortunately, struggles seem to compound for the less fortunate. Life can be like quicksand and, once we slip in, it holds us tight. One mistake leads to another and you keep sinking.
Unfortunately, nobody can dig you out of quicksand. They can, however, throw you a rope to help you escape. Financial planning can be the rope for many of us.
We cannot get ahead in this world without first believing in the possibility of a better life.
Investing in itself shows that belief because we buy a stock with the belief that it will increase in value. Sure, you may lose, but isn’t the chance at winning better than sitting in the mud? Grab that rope!
If we constantly worry about money, we have less energy to grow our faith. When we are exhausted and sad, evil’s tempting whispers become louder. Finding the balance between enjoying today and preparing for tomorrow is vital here. Temporary relief now may not be worth the impact on you later.
Another advantage to the Roth IRA is that it’s not taxable.
When money cannot be taxed you distance yourself from the arm of governmental power. When the government has less control over your wallet, we are less likely to view politicians as saviors. They may envision and market themselves that way, but recent experience should lead us to conclude that we know better.
We should always carefully avoid idolatry with politicians. Thomas Paine warned of this at the beginning of our country in Common Sense, so this is nothing new. (By the way that should be required reading for Americans.)
Unless you’re living under a rock, you know 2024 is an election year.
Regardless of who you support and who wins, each candidate will spin their campaign as the battle between good and evil. Each candidate will promise to look out for our best interests, while a win for their opponent will ruin our lives.
I subscribe to The Economist because it provides an interesting perspective on the world’s business. They have had many articles on the US election and very few have been positive. Honestly, I’m not excited about the election either.
We criticize President Biden because of his age, but Donald Trump isn’t much younger. Biden disappoints me because his 2020 campaign was about bringing the country together. Unfortunately, whenever he speaks, all I hear is him blaming Republicans.
Of course, Trump disappointed me with how he handled losing 2020. When I look at both candidates, all I see are two arrogant, stubborn men. Both believe they are the only ones who can beat the other.
(Personally, I would love to see Nikki Haley against Kamala Harris. Maybe one of them could do the job without believing they are the world’s savior. There is only one of those and we recently celebrated His birth at Christmas. Can you believe that was only a month ago?)
Tying retirement savings to the birth of Jesus, Roth IRAs were conceived as a way for less fortunate people to plan for a better future.
One thing I’ve always found interesting about the Nativity story is the prominence of poor people (See Luke 2). Mary and Joseph weren’t wealthy, but God intentionally chose them. God could have made a penthouse suite available at the inn, yet Jesus was born in a manger, a feeding trough for stable animals.
Let’s go further and remember who was the first to see Jesus. An angel came to the shepherds in the fields with their flocks to announce the birth of the King of kings. In New Testament times, shepherds were poor, ranking near the bottom of society. These people were definitely not considering a Roth IRA or planning for long-term financial security.
God uses the Nativity story to remind us that all people matter. After all, Jesus came and died to save ALL people, not just the wealthy or the popular.
Unfortunately, poverty will always be a problem until Jesus returns.
Solving it would take a miracle of epic proportions because of sin in this world. Our politicians can’t even agree on a budget, so you can imagine how the whole world working together would look. Don’t hold your breath. However, by getting our individual financial houses in order, then I believe we can be in a better position to help others.
Over Christmas I read Kristin Hannah’s excellent book, The Four Winds. It was about a family trying to survive the Great Depression. It helps to remember how bad things can be when we’re looking at our current situation.
One thing I’ve learned as a financial planner is that perhaps subconsciously, people seem to worry that one false move will result in another Great Depression, and it will start that day. By no means am I down playing loss aversion. Investing is scary, so you should get help from a licensed professional.
However, waiting in fear of the world’s end is no way to live. If the world ends tomorrow, your investment portfolio is the last thing you’ll be worried about.
Fortunately, financial markets learn from past mistakes, so measures are in place to help prevent or weaken the effects of another Great Depression. We also learned a lot from the Great Recession after the housing market crash in 2008 as well. Many things caused that event, but I think it was fueled mostly by greed.
Personally, I think we will experience another recession in 2024.
Technically, we had a short recession in 2022 with two consecutive quarters of declining GDP. Did you notice it? Probably not.
Our economy is driven by consumer spending. Yes, we help the country by spending, so we should do it. However, we must always maintain our balance between enjoying today and preparing for tomorrow.
Can you imagine a recession caused by consumers? It could happen if we all stopped spending and invested our extra income in a Roth IRA. That would be an amazing sight and a reminder of our power as consumers.
In The Art of War Sun Tzu said, “Great results can be achieved with small forces.” No, with the current maximum allowed contribution of $6,500, a Roth IRA will not make you rich overnight. However, it can be a significant step on your road to financial independence. That peace of mind should also help silence those evil voices in our daily battle with sin.
I think we’ll handle the next recession pretty well because interest rates are already high.
The Fed can lower rates quickly to perk up a sluggish economy. That’s hard to do when the rates are too low, as they were a few years ago.
Furthermore, in an election year, politicians will do everything they can to make sure they keep their jobs. Money that wasn’t available during the campaign will suddenly appear. Then they’ll go on television and social media announcing some new “plan” that will make the greatest country in the world somehow even better.
Of course, the market will react to all of this noise. You’re ready to build your future once you understand that, my friends. When you start contributing to a Roth IRA, you tell the world you won’t rely on others to fuel and live out your dreams.
God put the dream in your heart. He is providing the resources we need and it’s up to us to be good stewards of those resources. There will always be struggles and distractions, but I truly believe that we can all pursue our version of the American dream.
Now, let me help you get started. Email me.