What crisis teaches us about Saving
Many of our grandparents used to talk about “saving for a rainy day”. Economically, it’s been “pouring” now for several months, and the impact of Covid-19 is not done yet. Millions of jobs have been lost, with a corresponding loss of benefits – including health insurance at a time when we need it most! None of us could have seen this coming last year; but crisis in general should come as no surprise. Every family endures crisis of many forms.
God in His wisdom instructs us to prepare for the unexpected:
The prudent see danger and take refuge,
but the simple keep going and pay the penalty. (Proverbs 22:3; 27:12)
Go to the ant, you sluggard;
consider its ways and be wise!
It has no commander,
no overseer or ruler,
yet it stores its provisions in summer
and gathers its food at harvest. (Proverbs 6:6-8)
Perhaps the best example in Scripture of preparation for crisis was Joseph’s provision for the nation of Egypt during a famine. The ruler of Egypt had been given dreams that foretold the economic situation for the next 14 years, and God revealed the interpretation to Joseph: There would be 7 years of abundance followed by 7 years of famine. Joseph advised Pharaoh on the wisest course of action: use the years of abundance to prepare and store up grain for use during the famine years. As a result, not only was Egypt saved during the famine, but so was Jacob and his whole family! (Genesis 45:6)
The question is not whether or not crisis will come; it will. The real question is, when it comes, will we be prepared? Saving helps us prepare for crisis.
Saving in a Crisis
According to a survey quoted by The Motley Fool, in early April 50% of Americans expected their savings to run out by the end of the month as a result of the Coronavirus (1). At the same time, Americans appeared to be learning the lesson; CNBC quoted the US Bureau of Economic Analysis as saying that the personal savings rate in America hit a historic 33% in April (2). With less disposable income, and with much of the economy beginning to shut down, spending declined sharply.
The wisdom of saving is clear, but the pull of the culture – particularly of advertising and marketing – is strong against it. With this in mind, how can we prioritize saving in the midst of the current crisis?
- With many children’s sports leagues and other activities shut down, this is a great opportunity to save the costs of those activities. Put some of that money into family activities (now that you also have the time!) and save the rest.
- This year is a better year than most for “staycations”, which can save thousands of dollars normally spent on travel and entertainment. Outdoor options such as state parks, which tend to be less risky than indoor activities, also tend to be less expensive.
- With restrictions on restaurants in many areas, this is a great time to get re-acquainted with the kitchen! Eating at home can be safer these days than going out, and it’s nearly always more healthy and less expensive.
Of course, anyone who has lost a job in the current crisis will have a hard time saving. And anyone who entered this crisis without emergency savings may be struggling even more. But the point is not to beat ourselves up for past opportunities missed, but to prayerfully look for new opportunities that God brings our way, and to seek His wisdom in responding to those opportunities.
(1) https://www.fool.com/retirement/2020/04/10/50-of-americans-say-their-savings-will-run-out-thi.aspx, accessed on Aug. 14, 2020.