Friday, July 8, 2011

Building Wealth Can Be a Slow Process

One of the toughest things for many Gen Y investors to accept is that building wealth is exactly what its name implies: a process, sometimes slow, that starts with something small and ultimately grows to something much bigger. Much of the time, we're put out of a touch with reality when we hear stories of instant wealth being "made" either by investors, company founders or the like.

This all highlights an important principle: it's easier to make money when you already have it. However, do not fret! Just because you're not starting off with a billion dollars does not mean that it's impossible to become wealth; just the opposite, in fact. Just because building wealth can be a slow process does not mean it's the wrong process. Being cautious but at the same time well-calculated, meaning you have an asset allocation that fits your tolerance for risk but also allows you enough flexibility to enjoy the here and now, will ultimately make you a better person and investor.

Many readers know that I like to use examples to illustrate why even though building wealth may seem "slow" it ultimately pays off. Consider an investor who begins with $5,000 at at age 22 and is able to earn a 7% return without adding any additional capital. Of course, 99.9% of investors reading this blog will actively add to their nest egg over time, but this example proves that even if our investor doesn't, the magic of compounding still works. After 40 years, our investor would have $74,872. Now, some people might ask what the point of investing and saving is if we can't enjoy today. My response is simple: give yourself enough flexibility to enjoy today - set aside a comfortable amount of discretionary income per month so you can go away on a trip, buy a new TV or do whatever else you'd like to do - and by investing the rest today, you'll ultimately ensure a much earlier retirement than age 62.