How Much is Enough?

(Originally written in September, 2000)

Someday you will retire. Will a million dollars be enough? When J.P. Morgan died in 1914, his peers were surprised that his estate totaled “only” $68 million ($802 million in 1989 dollars). “And to think that he was not a rich man,” sympathized steel tycoon Andrew Carnegie. Don Patrick, a financial planning expert says, “It’s not like being a millionaire used to be. Realistically, you can expect to get $60,000 to $70,000 a year from it -if you’re lucky. That’s comfortable, but that is not rich.” Experts tell us that you will need close to 80% of your current income when you retire. The current middle income couples in their thirties will need one million dollars by retirement time. If Social Security fails, you may need two million. Couples starting IRAs or 401-K plans in their twenties will have no financial problems in later life, if they leave the money compounding and don’t touch it until their late sixties.

Ron Blue says that we need to decide now “How much wealth is enough?”. If we don’t draw a line, then as selfish and insecure people, we will always want more. Don’t compare yourself with others. Make your own plans. When you reach your goal, spend the balance of your time and money resources helping others. The more that we focus on others,  instead of ourselves, the more satisfied we will become. Accumulating wealth does not ultimately satisfy. Giving to the needs of others does not pay monetary dividends, but there are large dividends of love, peace, and enjoyment.

We must plan for the future, but our focus cannot be on the material. Our focus must be on the eternal, the unseen. Chuck Woods says, “Most of use experience an entire career or live a lifetime before we realize that money doesn’t buy the important things.” We must hold our money merely as custodians for what is ultimately God’s. He is the source of all wealth. Albert Schweitzer once said, “If you own something that you can’t give away, you don’t own it, it owns you!” Therefore, we must hold our possessions loosely, with an open hand. Theologian Richard Foster writes, “Being aware of God’s ownership can free us from a possessive and anxious spirit. After we have done what we can to care for those things that have been entrusted to us, we know that they are in bigger hands than ours. When John Wesley heard that his home had been destroyed by fire, he exclaimed, “The Lord’s house burned. One less responsibility for me!”

In conclusion, money is necessary, but it is only a tool to be used. It does not give us happiness, it only shows the source of our happiness by how we spend it, invest it, and give it away. Money does not solve our problems, it only reveals our character.

Choosing my focus,

Kent Humphreys

“But people who long to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows.”

1 Timothy 6:9-10 (NLT)

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About kenthumphreys
Kent Humphreys has been a business leader for over forty years. He also served as CEO of FCCI/Christ@Work for six years and now serves as their worldwide ambassador, speaking, writing, and mentoring young leaders. He continues to be active in distribution, private equities, and real estate. Kent and his wife Davidene have written six books together. They have three children and eight grand-children.

One Response to How Much is Enough?

  1. Tony Wu says:

    Kent,
    Thank you for sharing.

    -Tony

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