The Cost of Waiting to Start Investing

People are often really intimidated by investing. In my view, 30 is the absolute latest you should start. Obviously earlier is better but for any people they won’t do that. Starting at 30 still gives you 40 years until your 70, which in my mind is the point where I don’t want to be doing any paid work anymore. I can imagine that between 55-70, I’d want to scale back but not stop completely. Assuming, I’m around and healthy that long of course.

The graph below shows the change in the amount of money you’d have if you invest for 40 years vs. an alternative strategy where you start regular investing 5 years later. As you can see, the difference in the total amount you invest is only $20,000 but the difference in returns is over $250,000. For these calculations, I’ve used a fairly conservative rate of return of 6%, which is around about what a broad stock market ETF (exchange traded fund) will return. This is when you buy a fund that just tracks the whole market rather than selecting stocks.

If you do this within a tax-free account like a ROTH IRA in the US, then you are all set to keep all of your profits. In my view everyone should be saving $100 a week, religiously. If you can’t do this, there are various ways to hustle to earn that level of extra income, just as working online on a site like odesk or fiverr, or helping a friend out in their business.

The calculator I used for this is from

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