Money

My Three Most Important Moments

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I’ve had three pivotal moments in my and my family’s life when it comes to investing.

The first was when I was 22 years old and came across a statistic that that said if you invested $2,000 (the maximum allowed in an IRA at that time) in an IRA at 21 years old and stop investing at 30 years old, you’ll have more money at 65 then if you start at 31 and invest $2,000 per year until you’re 65.

Because of the power of compounding, investing $20,000 over 10 years will earn more than investing $70,000 over 35 years because you started earlier.

The figurative lightbulb turned on and I began investing immediately.

The second important moment came when I was writing my book, Get Rich with Dividends. I was working with a dividend reinvestment spreadsheet and my then 10-year-old son asked me what I was doing. I showed him how the formulas worked and explained what the numbers meant.

After 20 and 30 years, the numbers get very large. After 40 years, they get ridiculous.

His eyes opened wide and he asked, “You mean if I start investing now, I could be rich when I’m an adult?”

I explained there are no guarantees, but that yes, there was a strong probability that if he was able to invest for 30 or 40 years, he would be rich someday.

He asked if we could get started right away. We did.

I didn’t expect the third moment to occur last week when reading Morgan Housel’s The Psychology of Money. I’m only halfway through it, but so far it’s the best book on money that I’ve read since The Richest Man in Babylon.

Here’s what blew me away…

Housel was discussing Warren Buffett’s fortune, which at the time he wrote the book stood at $84.5 billion. The author pointed out that $81.5 billion of that was earned after Buffett was 65 years old, mostly due to compounding.

Even more astonishing was this:

Buffett is 93 years old. He started investing when he was 10. At 30, he was worth $1 million. But had he not gotten such an early start and was worth $25,000 at 30 (which was a much more normal net worth at that time) and then begun his incredible 22% annual return run – but then stopped at 60, he would have had an extremely comfortable $11.9 million.

He would still have been rich. But not $84.5 billion rich.

Here’s another way of looking at it… Had Buffett earned 22% on his $1 million at age 30 and stopped at 60, he would have wound up with $390 million.

That’s an insane amount of money. Yet it’s less than one half of one percent of what he is worth today. That’s what another 30 years of investing did. It turned $390 million into $84.5 billion.

I snapped a photo of the page in the book and sent it to my kids.

Warren Buffett’s investing acumen would have turned him into a multi-millionaire if he’d had a more normal career trajectory. By starting so early and investing so long, he became a billionaire 84 times over.

Stay invested for the long-term and teach your children and grandchildren to do the same. Decades from now they will either thank you in person or perhaps name the library at their alma mater after you.

Share the best investing advice you ever received in the comment section below.

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