Managing Money Through the Stages of Life
God cares about every aspect of our lives and wants us to look to Him at every life stage we pass through. If we really trust God with everything we have, He will provide for all of our needs as He promised in Philippians 4:19: “And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” This text is basically saying that God will supply our needs, not our wants. Oftentimes, in trying to keep pace with those around us, we constantly strive to get more, so we are never satisfied with what we have.
As one transitions through life, there are five main stages. For example, young married couples will likely face challenges such as setting up a home, managing debt and teaching children about money. In contrast, an older person (60 plus) will be more interested in wealth transfer and retirement issues. Be reassured that whichever stage you are at, God has a plan for you.
It is in the family where children first learn about money. This stage lays the foundation for how a child views and understands money and will shape the way they handle their financial resources as an adult. Max Lucado, in his book Becoming Money Smart, stated, “In 1900 the average person living in the United States wanted seventy-two different things and considered eighteen of them essential. Today the average person wants five hundred things and considers one hundred of them essential.” Are we teaching our children that they always get what they want, or do we teach them about the importance of saving and giving (in the form of assisting others) rather than only spending and receiving for their own benefit?
The apostle Paul defines the reason for having wealth as meeting the needs of our fellow man. The gift of giving is defined as the foundation for a life of selfless devotion to others: “You will be enriched in everything for all liberality, which through us is producing thanksgiving to God” (2 Corinthians 9:11, NASB).
This stage is where you may have possibly graduated from university or completed your apprenticeship in your new job. You may be thinking about paying off any university debts, getting married, or setting up a new home. You are excited about your increase in income and enjoy the thrill of purchasing new items for your home or planning the wedding of your dreams. However, due to the increased changes in your lifestyle, this is a stage where it is more important than ever to learn to live within your means. Therefore, having a realistic and workable budget is essential at this stage because spending less than you earn is a practical and necessary step along the journey of life to achieve long-term financial stability.
It is important to include an element for savings within your budget, which can be used later on to help you manage some of your other future lifestyle needs. Ideally, this is best achieved through setting up a direct debit or standing order for regular monthly/weekly amounts to be deducted from your salary. We are told, “Be diligent to know the state of your flocks, and attend to your herds; for riches are not forever, nor does a crown endure to all generations” (Proverbs 27:23, 24).
This can be a more expensive time in your life when you have your children and may need to move to a larger house. It can also be a time when you are promoted at work, leading to increased income. This is an excellent opportunity to sit down with an independent financial advisor, who will guide you on the benefits of saving plans, retirement planning, and investments. Amid all of this is a biblical principle to provide for our family’s needs. We are told in 1 Timothy 5:8, “But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” This lets us know that God, who provides the means for us to work in our various fields, through His divine providence, has determined the appropriate amount we need. Our responsibility rests on how we prioritize and utilize the resources He has provided. To obey His commands to give, pay taxes, repay debt, and provide for my family’s needs is biblical. The amount that remains is available to be saved and set aside for the future or to be spent to fund the lifestyle you believe God would have you live.
This is a time in your life when your mortgage is paid off and you have retired from work, so now you have more time to enjoy your hobbies. People tend to downsize to a smaller property and get the joy of spending more time traveling or having a fun time with their grandchildren. At this stage, it may be beneficial to earn some passive income (income in addition to your pension), which could be achieved through shopping around for the best income bonds on your savings, benefiting from rental income from additional properties that you own, or renting a spare room out in your home to a lodger.
Let us remember that whether we find ourselves in plenty or with little at this stage, we have a responsibility: “Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the Lord your God which He has given you” (Deuteronomy 16:17).
At this stage, you may start to have problems with your health. If you have not already done so, this is a good time to make a will because if you die suddenly without a will, your family may have more challenges dealing with your estate. It is also worth speaking with an independent financial advisor about inheritance tax planning, which will ensure the government is not able to demand excessive amounts of tax from your estate. You may also need to think about what you will do if you can no longer care for yourself. You will have to consider whether you sell your property to raise funds for your treatment or do an equity release from your home.
So, now that we have looked at each of the life stages, it’s time for you to identify which stage you are at and ask yourself: Am I using my resources wisely? Whichever life stage you are in, it is essential to have a budget that you are working to. As we partner with Him, journeying through the life stages, let’s be continuously influenced by the ultimate goal: “His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord” (Matthew 25:23).
 Max Lucado, Becoming Money Smart (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, Inc., 2007), 6.
 Scripture quotations marked NASB are from the New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995, 2020 by The Lockman Foundation. All rights reserved