Some of the best advice I ever received as a kid was to pay yourself first. This advice can mean different things to different people, but for me, it meant thinking long term and planning for the future. No surprise, this is why being a financial planner is such a good fit for me!
I took this advice to heart as a teenager, saving extra dollars from babysitting and part-time jobs. Back then, savings account interest rates were in the double digits, so even though my savings was meager, I quickly understood the power of compound interest. This was a big motivator for me, seeing my savings grow.
After college, my husband and I had no retirement plan options at work, and since we wanted to retire someday, we made the decision we should set up some investment accounts. We committed to making systematic contributions each month. For us back then, and still to this day, it is much easier for us to write a $500 check each month than a $6,000 check each year. Same dollars, but it made the cash flow easier. So, we wrote that check each month, just like paying another bill, and set aside money for our future.
Now this is where the challenge comes in: committing to making that systematic investment each month. Life tends to get in the way – you have a baby, which leads to needing a bigger vehicle, day care costs, and needing a bigger house. Expenses can quickly snowball. This is when budgeting can be a huge help. And inside that budget – remember to pay yourself. Whether it’s through a retirement plan at work, a savings account at a bank, or an investment account, commit to saving for yourself for the long-term.
We stuck to our plan and over time, watched our accounts grow. Some years we had to cut back on the amount we invested and other times we could increase it, but we kept investing in ourselves and our future by dollar cost averaging our money into the market systematically. It didn’t happen overnight, and it sure was tempting to spend the money on something fun or bright and shiny instead of investing it. Now, 25 years later, we are on track to reach our retirement goals.
So many people want that instant gratification or success, that next hot investment. The reality is things rarely play out that way. Instead of overnight success, it takes patience and commitment to reach your goals, financial or otherwise. It’s also never too late to start. Set up a budget and make paying yourself a priority.
The financial professionals at Hovis & Associates can help you create a plan to reach your financial goals. Call us to set up a consultation at (800) 411-0737. Your future self will thank you.