For Huon, the cook for the InnerCHANGE team office, a single woman in her forties, who works seven hours a day five days a week, making twice what a factory worker would make for six full days of work, the inflation means that she is riding her motorbike less, eating less and choosing cheaper food. She is not saving at the moment despite the need for surgery in the near future and the fact that she has no one to take care of her when she is old. She says: 'I know that I should save some money in case things get worse, but then I see my neighbors who are hungry and I have to share, or how could I be a Christian? I just have to trust God for the future.'
Martin and I expect to pay off our mortgage in February next year. After that, it is our intention to redirect that portion of our income to retirement savings. We intend to save enough money to fully support ourselves in retirement (without a pension from the government) as that seems like the responsible thing for rich people like us to do.
And yet, like Huon, we have neighbours who are hungry (they just don't live next door); and we have plenty to share. If we hold onto our surplus, can we, in her words, "be Christians"?
If we redirected that mortgage money to giving instead of saving, we could more than triple our monthly giving (not that all, or even most, of our charitable giving goes to feeding the hungry). Is it right for us, as Christians, to keep all that for ourselves? After all, we serve the God who "owns the cattle on a thousand hills" - shouldn't we trust Him for our future needs?
As things stand, we wouldn't even have to trust Him that much! After all, the New Zealand government, unlike the Cambodian government, provides its citizens life-long free medical care and an adequate pension in old age. We also have Kiwisaver savings that are likely to grow to the equivalent of $350k by the time Martin retires. The leap we'd be taking is ever so much smaller than that taken by Huon.
So what should we do? We still have a year to decide, but we're definitely talking and praying about whether to change our plans.