Early in my career, I didn’t want to save $1,000 in a brokerage account. It felt like an insignificant sum, plus I owed over $200K in student loans and paying it down was a slog.
What could a measly $1,000 do in terms of making me rich? Not much I thought.
Regardless of what felt like the insignificance of it all, I still signed myself up for those automatic payments. I even went one step further and had payroll deposit specific amounts directly into my investment accounts while “setting my salary” much lower.
Looking back with hindsight, I now see that as one of the fundamental inflection points. It was “only” $1,000 at first but over time that’s grown to $2K, $3K, $4K and now it’s well over $10K each month.
Those kinds of numbers add up over time, particularly since we’re all so busy that I can almost guarantee whatever decision you’ll make will continue on auto-pilot for several months before you have a chance to catch your breathe and reevaluate.
Want another inflection point? I’ve always had the bulk of my savings in boring index funds, but part of me wanted to strike it rich on a smart investment.
This desire led me to invest $10,000 into biotech startup doing exciting things and poised for future success! It seemed like an intelligent decision at the time. I knew people in the specific industry and THIS company was the golden goose. It felt like getting into Google on the ground floor.
What is that $10,000 worth today? Zero bucks. They declared bankruptcy after a few years. If I live to be 81-years-old, it’s pretty reasonable to think that $10,000 would have grown to $320,000 on its own in a boring index fund.
I look back at this “moment” as an inflection point – one where I realized I didn’t need to take on any unnecessary risk to reach my goals. All I needed was to increase my savings rate and let the market forces do the rest of the work.
How can you create your own “moments”?
I could develop a list of ways to create your moments, but I can also distill into three words: just get started.
Want to max out your 401(k)? Just log on to your benefits account and set it for the right amount. Want to save $3K a month? Set up an automatic transfer. What’s the worse that could happen? Could you bounce a rent check? Will it be uncomfortable when you realize that you’ve potentially screwed yourself?
Absolutely. It’ll be all of those things. But you’re a resourceful person and you will adapt. Maybe you’ll have to “borrow” some money from a savings account to make ends meet or perhaps next month you’ll have to ratchet down your contributions but chances are excellent that you’ll be better off overall if you just force yourself to make the change. You can always fix it later.
The following post was republished with permission from Big Law Investor.