Joseph interpreted the dream to Pharaoh as follows: There will be seven years of bounty followed by seven years of famine. “What must we do about that revelation of knowledge?” Pharaoh asked.
Joseph advised that the King should keep away (read Save) 20% of the harvest in the bountiful years and store up for the people of Egypt in the years of draught and famine. – #ThePlan.
Then there was a strategy of how to execute the plan: Appoint a discerning man to be in charge of the harvest…” A discerning man is one who understands the bigger picture, who will be diligent to store away the grain, who would be able to breakdown the vision to the lowest in rank, the farmer, the common man.
Many lessons can be drawn from this passage, today let us focus on Savings and Investments to secure your retirement. Speaking to the employed folks here.
Employment is just but for a season, and all of us have a sell-by date. Holding all factors constant, ceteris paribas, retirement calls out louder with every passing birthday anniversary. In the present times, assurance of permanent and pensionable is a folk tale.
The “years of plenty” represent your employment days. The years after represent post-employment days including retirement days. With advanced medicine, better health care and general improvement in application of science a longer life expectancy is more probable.
The question is “What will you eat in the years of famine?” So here are two lessons from the passage;
- Save 20% (or 10%, 30%, or whatever amount that you consider to be in excess) of your harvest in the bountiful years.
- Store it well for use in the years of famine ahead. Preserve it by investing. Investment should serve two purposes – preservation of the savings and growth or multiplication of the said savings.
Back to Egypt
So as we casually discussed our fast approaching retirement years, I asked @TonnieMello how the 20% will be sufficient for the seven years of famine. How can they live on a fifth of the produce having lived off four fifths in each of the first seven years? Here are his hypothesis:
- The Egyptians will follow the cue from the leadership and save up some more from their individual farms and harvests.
- As a result of point number 1 above, the people would have enough to cover them for the first few years of famine. Consequently, they will only need to go back to the Pharaoh’s coffers perhaps in the third or fourth year of famine. The 20% per year for the seven years will therefore be sufficient for the remaining period.
Inspired by the response, I would like to add a few more theories:
- Taking advantage of economies of scale, the Pharaoh’s grain bulking and storage preserved the produce in a manner that the farmers could not attain individually. #PowerofPoolFunds #MutualFunds #Insurance etc.
- In the days of plenty the people could spend a little more than necessary, while in the days of famine they only needed the bare minimum to survive. Perhaps their basics could be covered by just 20% of the regular harvest.
YOLO but YOCOLILO
In the days of plenty, enjoy your youth and enjoy the bounty. By all means spoil yourself a little, some Kenyans say “Pigia mwili pole” (to loosely mean “thank your body”). HOWEVER, remember the later days and plan ahead for those days by saving and investing. In the days of famine, live in preservation mode – cover your basics, limit your extras.
You Only Live Once (YOLO) but You Could Live Long (YOCOLILO). Okay, I admit I just made that up . The thing is that most of us can live on so much less than we make from employment today. I am not advocating for stingy behaviour, denying ourselves the occasional little pleasures, not at all! Advocating for planned, prudent moderation.
Today is a gift, and appropriately referred to as the present. While you live the present, save and invest as much as you can. Live today like it is your last, it just could be. Save enough for tomorrow, just incase today is not your last.