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IMPORTANT: You must have the 2 documents from the Assignment Instructions Folder (“Retirement Savings Calculator” and “How to fill out the Retirement Savings Worksheet“) to complete this Discussion Board Forum.

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Topic: Savings vs. Debt – Good and Bad News about How Interest Impacts Your Life

The Bible teaches that we are responsible to manage our finances faithfully in a way that honors God. The phrase that is generally used is that we are to be good stewards of the wealth that God has given into our care. The word “steward” clearly implies that it is God’s money that we are managing and not our own.

In addition, 2 Corinthians 12:14 reminds us that parents are responsible to save for their children. Also, 1 Timothy 5:8 very strongly states that we are responsible to care for any close relatives who need care. In context, this includes aged parents and grandparents at a minimum.

Managing your savings and/or retirement funds to meet your goals can seem like it requires an ability to predict the future. How much money needs to be saved each month depends not only on your goals and your personal situation but also on the amount of money available, time, and interest rates. Some of these things are not knowable because they are in the future and could change dramatically.

Does this mean that we should just give up and make no effort to provide for the future? Absolutely not. It means that we do our best to make reasonable assumptions, discipline ourselves to control our spending, and make wise plans for our investments. It also means that we need to seek God for wisdom as we trust Him to provide for what we cannot.

In this forum, you will be using the spreadsheet provided in the Assignment Instructions folder to start a basic financial plan that that takes issues of debt, interest rates, and investment into account. Open the spreadsheet and enter the appropriate information into the cells shaded in purple.

Look at the bottom of the page in the spreadsheet. You will see 3 tabs. The first tab is for the worksheet you need to fill out. The 2nd tab shows the worksheet filled out with sample values. How these values were determined is described in the attached Word document as an example to help you fill out your worksheet. The 3rd tab is for a worksheet to help you calculate your average interest rate on your current debt if you have any.

Once you get the worksheet filled out, play around with the numbers a little to see how changes affect how much you will need to save each month to meet your goals. See what happens if you delay your plan to start saving by a few years. See what happens with a few different values for interest rates.

Once you have completed filling out the attached spreadsheet, provide a reaction to your discoveries in a thread. In your thread, you must give 3 different numbers you used either for “# of years until retirement” or for “years of delay until you start saving.” If you choose to use different numbers for “#number of years until retirement,” be sure to adjust your “# of years you will live off of your money” to match.

For example, using the numbers in the sample spreadsheet, I used 25, 30, and 35 for “#number of years until retirement.” For 25, I set the “number of years you will live off of your money” to 30. For 30, I set the “live off of your money” number to 25, and, for 35, I set the “live of your money” number to 20. The 3 different amounts needed to be saved each month were $2,239, $1,346, and $748.

Note that 1346/2239 = .60 and 748/2239 = .33. So, in my post I would say that I used 25, 30, and 35 years for the “#number of years until retirement.” When I changed from 25 to 30 years, it reduced the amount I needed to save per month to 61% of the original amount. When I changed “#number of years until retirement” to 35 years, it reduced the amount I needed to save per month to 33% of the original amount. By sharing these percentages and not the actual dollar amounts, you show your instructor that you did this comparison part of the assignment (and you preserve the privacy of your financial information).

For the rest of your thread, you may tell the class what surprised you, what you learned from the exercise, or any actions you need to take to adjust your savings and/or debt reduction strategy. You are not required to share any personal financial information with either your instructor or with any other classmate. Do NOT post your worksheet into the Discussion Board Forum. Also, if you know of a link to another resource that has helped you in your attempt to honor God by managing your finances wisely, you are welcome to share that link with the class.

For your replies, consider talking about something you found surprising or helpful in the other classmate’s thread or something you found helpful to yourself from this exercise.

See the Discussion Board Forum 3 Grading Rubric for further details such as the required word count.

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