Stacy Johnson at MoneyTalksNews has a great list of "10 dumb money moves". All of them have merit in one way or another but #5 in particular stood out to me:
5. Starting to save large and late rather than small and soonIf you're 25 and you save just 5 bucks every day ... call it $150 a month ... and earn 10 percent, by the time you're 55, you'll have $340,000. If you wait till you're 45 to start accumulating that same 340 grand, you'll have to save $1,700 every month for 10 years. True, you can't earn 10 percent today, at least without risk. But over time and by taking a measured amount of risk, you can.
I can't emphasize enough have important starting early is. Most people don't realize that even if you start with a small amount now, you'll have plenty of years to watch that money compound and you'll ultimately wind up with a lot more than you started with. For example, if you start with $1,000 at age 25 and add $5,000 yearly at an average return of 7% until you retire in 40 years, you'll wind up with $1,013,150.02 - yes, you'll be a millionaire! Granted, that calculation doesn't take into account the effects of inflation, but building a million dollar nest egg to retire on while only starting with $1,000 is quite impressive. The list may point out "dumb money moves" but all of them are easy to learn from and to correct.