Little Things Add Up Over Time

By Russel Campbell

As pastors we often find ourselves helping people walk through life, coaching and guiding as they traverse the uncharted waters of their journey. We all have seen how small habits, be they positive or negative, can have a cumulative effect on people over time. In Song of Solomon 2:15 the wise man Solomon said it is the little foxes that spoil the vine. The prophet Zechariah spoke of not despising the day of small things (4:10).

This is seen as clearly as anywhere in the area of finances. Little actions, when spread over a long period of time, can make a huge impact. Not only so, but finances can impact seemingly every other part of a person’s life. A family whose finances are in order have a lot less stress than one whose finances are ruined. Not only so, but people with financial struggles often feel overwhelmed and do not know where to for the next person who comes in your office with financial struggles.

Principle: It is a fact that little things add up over time. Have you ever saved your family’s change for an entire year and then used it on vacation? Have you ever filled up several Sheaves for Christ cans with leftover change for several months? Were you surprised by how much it all added up to?

Little expenses that we like to justify start looking pretty expensive when you add up how much you spend on them in a year. In contrast, each time you contribute to your retirement account, you increase the total amount you have invested and the potential growth from compounding.

So many citizens of the United States spend more than they make until we have now suffered from a negative savings rate for several years. Most people give the excuse, “I cannot afford to save for retirement or emergencies.”

Let us look at how little things can add up over time.

Every week, instead of buying: Invest the money for forty years and you potentially could have:

Cappuccino ($5) $75,650
Music Downloads ($7) $105,882
Fast Food Meal ($10) $151,265
Dinner Out ($15) $226,915

These are hypothetical examples used for illustrative purposes only. They assume an 8% average annual investment return, compounded monthly, which is not representative of any particular investment. Actual rates of return cannot be predicted and will fluctuate.

My point is simple: You do not necessarily have to earn a large income to lay the groundwork for a financially secure future. However, you do need to be committed to making regular, steady investments over time. Very few people will be able to live adequately on social security income alone.

Even Paul, in II Corinthians 12:14, made the statement that parents ought to store up for their children: “Behold, the third time I am ready to come to you; and I will not be burdensome to you: for I seek not yours, but you: for the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children.”

The same principle to which Paul referred in I Corinthians 16:2 also applies to saving. Both require the discipline of storing up small things over a period of time.

Your financial future can be secure by being a good steward of the little things over a long period of time!

The article “Little Things Add Up Over Time” written by Russel Campbell is excerpted from Forward Magazine the 2007 September/October edition.