A Fitness Plan for 2001

for the week of January 1, 2001
by Rubel Shelly

The start of a new year is the perfect time for making some commitments about fitness. Need to take off a few pounds? Need to be more frugal in spending and zealous about saving? Need to end this year with more spiritual muscle?

"Just by making a few small changes in your life, you can really make a big difference in your savings and retirement," says Bryan Olson of the Schwab Center for Investment Research. As 2000 was drawing to a close, the center released results of a recent study that showed giving up potato chips with lunch could save $176.80 a year and generate retirement savings of $10,483.62 in 20 years, assuming a ten percent return.

The same principle was illustrated with a number of indulgences that are not uncommon in our time. Giving up two doughnuts a week could boost your nest egg by $6,552.26 in two decades. Switch from double latte with whipped cream to regular coffee, and you could save $429 per year a whopping $27,028.07 at ten percent over 20 years.

Dropping the potato chips would also eliminate close to 10,000 calories per year. Suppose you eat a bagel with cream cheese three times a week. Just by skipping the cream cheese, you would toss 54,000 calories a year from your diet and save $117 or $7,371.29 over a 20-year investment period.

Olson released these facts to underscore one of the oldest investment maxims in his industry: Regular investments, even in small amounts, will make a big difference in savings and retirement. What works in fiscal fitness also works in physical fitness. And the same axiom applies to spiritual health as well.

I once heard a lady express admiration for a Bible teacher she respected. "I'd give half my life to know the Word of God so well!" she gushed. "That's about what it would take," a bystander replied. I'm not sure she got the point.

We'd prefer instant Bible knowledge from a pill or potion. Most of us would pay well for self-control, peace of mind, or power in prayer. But spiritual life is like physical health or fiscal soundness in one critical way: All the positive steps you take, even the smallest ones, make a significant difference over time.

The art of change begins with a plan. Even the things only God can change in us depends on our plan to be open to the work of his Holy Spirit. Pounds, pennies, and prayers success with all of them begins with a plan.

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