Financial advice from Money Box Live, or Pope Francis?

I was listening to the radio program Money Box Live last week. They were talking about pensions. It seems that if you delay taking your pension for a year then the amount of your pension increases by about 10% per year when you do take it. I guess this is a government scheme to reduce spending on pensions today at the cost of increasing it in future years, perhaps when there may be another government in power – but that’s not the point of this article. The thing that caught my attention was that they got a mathematician to describe the best time to take your pension.

The longer you delay, the higher the pension when you take it, but the less time you take it for. So if you know when you are going to die (which you can look up in statistical tables) the mathematician was working out a time at which the total amount of money you receive reaches a maximum.

All very logical and calculable, so why am I writing about it? Because it is a symptom of the cancerous thinking that underlies so many decisions today:
Our goal is to maximise the money we get, even if we only get it on the day before we die.

We forget that the more we have, even when we don’t need it, the less there is for others.

We don’t consider that the schemes we invest our money in minimise costs, such as the wages of the lowly paid, or maximise income, such lending our money at high rates of interest.

We ignore the fact that making decisions on the basis of maximising our income reinforces the extremely unfair financial systems that we have today, where the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer.

It is not easy to turn down opportunities to make more, or spend less. It is natural to want to buy the cheapest milk, or trainers, or energy – but each decision has its consequence.
When we invest to minimise our tax bill, we are placing the burden of paying for our public services on others. We are encouraging our government to introduce ‘austerity’ measures – “sanctioning” benefit claimants if they miss an appointment (in effect, fining them 100% of their income). We place the burden of balancing the government’s books on the poor.

My mother died last year. She didn’t spend the pension she received, and her investments grew, and we were surprised at the amount of money that she left. I have to decide what to do with the money I inherited. Money Box Live would tell me to invest to maximise my income. But I agree with Pope Francis, I reject that basis for my decisions. How about you?

About Minimalist Christian

Phil Hemsley is a graduate of the University of Cambridge, and a Fellow of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in the UK. He works for a multinational company in the power industry, has presented technical papers at international conferences and holds many patents. He has published two books, the most recent is "The Big Picture, an Honest Examination of God Science and Purpose". He has lived on both sides of the faith fence. He is married, with two daughters.
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3 Responses to Financial advice from Money Box Live, or Pope Francis?

  1. Nick Marsh says:

    I like this one, Phil. Last night I found myself in the middle of a discussion about the TV licence fee. Everyone was claiming both that it didn’t apply to them and that they knew how to avoid it anyway. So I said that I would mourn the loss of the BBC. Of course they agreed with that as well, but somehow couldn’t think of that magical solution whereby everyone paid their fair share but they didn’t need to.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. newtonfinn says:

    When I wrote a new synoptic gospel (Life of Truth, e-published on the Kindle), I was amazed at how many of Jesus’ parables and sayings were about money and wealth. He showed a distinct preference for the poor, as Pope Francis and liberation theology would say, as much in word as in action.

    A central teaching of Jesus, hammered home over and over again, is that money is a god in competition with the real God for the souls of men and women. This teaching has largely been swept under the rug, along with the kindred teaching that wealth is a deadly snare, something that must be avoided at all cost.

    Why? Why can’t we have a lot of money and just not love it? Because, Jesus says, we weak human beings are not made that way. Fight it all you will, if you have wealth, that’s where your heart will be. Treasure on earth is not compatible with treasure in heaven.

    I love Jesus’ understanding of human weakness, an understanding so intertwined with his compassion. He prays that we not be led into temptation. Why? Because he knows how easily we would yield to it. Even his most intimate followers could not watch with him one hour.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Two shirts at Christmas? | Thoughts from a Minimalist Christian

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