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Compounding and the Potential Benefits of Starting Early

Why should you consider starting to invest today rather than tomorrow?

The power of time

The sooner you begin saving, the better your chance of reaching your goals.

Why is time of the essence? The sooner you begin saving toward a goal—whether it’s helping to pay for a child’s or grandchild’s education, having enough to retire comfortably, making a large purchase, or doing something else—the better your chance of reaching it. Consider this example that shows how starting sooner rather than later can help your money work harder for you:

Let’s assume Investor A invested $1,000 per year for 10 years beginning at age 30 and reinvested his returns (interest, dividends, capital gains) back into his account. Investor B also invested the same amount per year, earned an identical rate of return, and reinvested her returns; however, she waited until age 40 to start with the strategy and continued with it for twice as long (20 years). Assuming a hypothetical 8% annual return, here’s a comparison of the two scenarios:

Investor AInvestor B
Total Invested$10,000$20,000
Hypothetical annual return8%8%
Account value at age 65$107,148$72,618

Even though Investor A saved half as much as Investor B, Investor A had significantly more at age 65. The extra years of compounding boosted his bottom line. Investor B will now have to save considerably more if she wants to catch up. This is the potential cost of waiting, a cost that quickly adds up. It doesn’t matter what age you are—you’ll have more time on your side if you start saving today.

Next steps

  • Work with your Financial Advisor to determine your goals and start saving as soon as possible
  • Remember to reinvest your returns back into your account so you can receive earnings both on them and the amount you invest
  • Consider using tax-advantaged accounts for education (Coverdell Education Savings Accounts and 529 plan accounts) and retirement saving [traditional and Roth IRAs and employer-sponsored qualified retirement plans such as 401(k) and 403(b) accounts], which can enhance the power of compounding

Wells Fargo Advisors does not provide tax or legal advice.