“Later, Dude.”

Via Flickr, by user istolethetv. Used under Creative Commons License.

You work hard, you budget, and you’re careful to provide for the needs of your family. The basic necessities of life are covered: You have food, shelter, clothing and transportation. So, with your leftover money, you can go have a good time… right?

Not so fast.

You’re making great progress, but providing for the basic, month-to-month needs of your family is only the beginning. Having enough money coming in to pay the essential bills is a great start, but there are a lot of things coming later in life that demand your attention now.

We humans love to live in the moment. We find it difficult to see beyond “now.” When it comes to money, many of us enjoy spending what we don’t use on this month’s bills to have a good time. But “later” is coming. And if we’re not careful now to prepare for later, we can find ourselves in a mess.

Providing well means providing for both now and later. We can’t take care of our immediate needs, blow off the future, and then tell ourselves that we’re good providers. To really care for our families’ needs, we must make sure that we’re using our finances to prepare for emergencies, contingencies and other long-term expenses.

The Bible addresses the idea of using our money today to provide for the future. Consider Proverbs 21:20:

The wise store up choice food and olive oil, but fools gobble theirs down.

It can be tempting to consume everything we get as it comes in, but as Solomon tells us, this is foolish behavior. Even though I may have plenty this month, I can not blindly trust that it will always be so. An injury, a job loss, a market crash or an unexpected home repair may wait just over the horizon; when those circumstances arise, I will immediately regret my carefree consumption.

We can never be sure what discouraging, frustrating and expensive things will happen in life… but we can be sure that they will happen. Our world is full of broken people and deteriorating things that just love to fall apart, taking us down with them. With this knowledge, the wise thing to do is to use some of today’s surplus to save for tomorrow, so that we can pay for both the expenses that we do foresee coming down the road, as well as those that we do not.

The story of Joseph in Genesis 41 gives us a great example of this principle. Thanks to God’s miraculous hand in his life, Joseph came to power as a foreigner in Egypt during an unprecedented time of wealth. Because he was wise and understood the nature of the world, Joseph arranged for some of the country’s surpluses of grain to be stored in warehouses. When a sever famine struck the region a few years later, Egypt was well supplied with food, and Joseph made a tidy profit selling grain. More importantly, he was able to meet the needs of his desperate family with the abundance that he had stored up.

Providing well means meeting the needs of now and later. That means doing things like emergencies savings, good insurance policies, retirement investing and long-term financial savings.

Because living in the moment is no fun when the moment turns ugly.

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