Why Starting Young Pays Off

2 September 2011

Let’s compare two teenagers and their lifetime savings habits.

Bianca baby-sits a lot and spends most of her spare time reading. She saves $1,000 a year starting when she’s 15 and invests it in the stock market for 10 years earning 12% per year on average. After 10 years, she comes out of her shell, stops adding money to her nest egg, and spends every penny she earns club hopping and on trips to Cancun. But she keeps her nest egg in the market.

Compare her account to that of her friend Patrice, who squandered her early paychecks on youthful indiscretions. At age 40 Patrice gets a wake-up call when her parents retire on nothing but Social Security. She starts vigorously socking away $10,000 every year for the next 25 years.

Guess who has more at age 65? That’s right, Bianca!

Her 10 years of saving $1,000 per year (just $10,000 total — the same amount Patrice put away in just one year) netted her $1.8 million by age 65. Patrice, on the other hand, scrimped for 25 years to invest a quarter million dollars out of her own pocket and ended up with just under $1.5 million. Neither will be going to the poorhouse, but you see our point: Bianca’s baby-sitting money grew for 50 years, twice as long as Patrice’s, and Bianca barely missed it.

The power of compounding is the single most important reason for you to start investing right now. Every day you are invested is a day that your money is working for you, helping to ensure a financially secure and stable future.

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