If I could start over in my adult life, I would save at least 25% of my income and invest in a low-cost total stock market index fund. This would not only have increased my financial returns but more importantly it would have increased my personal returns. Let me explain.
Throughout the years I have spent an inordinate amount of time trying to produce income. There were multiple business ventures that failed along with multiple real estate purchases that didn’t produce any real income. In my sales career I was constantly expanding my product lines as a way to increase my income as well. The problem with all of these methods isn’t the failures but the time spent failing. This time could have been spent on my family and our well-being. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think I neglected my responsibilities to my family but now that I understand how compounding market returns work, I just didn’t need to do all this stuff. I could have been more thoughtful and intentional about how I spent my time. I know this for sure- I would have been less stressed, healthier and more involved. My lovely wife has been so patient with me over the years with the amount of time I have devoted to working. We have built a nice life, but it could have been done much easier. I spent too many years like a pinball just bouncing around from one idea to another rather than taking time to evaluate things more thoroughly. I really enjoy business and I’m sure that I still would have owned a business, but it would have been more thoughtful and in tune with the rest of my life, especially in my younger years.
We were married in 1983 and the US Stock Market has returned over 11% annually since that year and historically returns at around 10%. Hypothetically, if one had saved $500 a month for 36 years, it would have produced around $2.4 million with only $216,000.00 in contributions. Notice how little you had to contribute over your career to produce the overall total? It’s phenomenal! Five hundred dollars may seem impossible when one is starting out so you can adjust that number to come up with whatever fits for you, but don’t underestimate your ability to save with proper motivation. There are many online calculators that can help you with this.
The details of my story will be different than yours, but it is important to evaluate how one spends their time. Do we give the things we value most, the time that we should? By saving a large chunk of your income and investing appropriately the possibilities are endless. It will allow you to simplify your life and focus on the things that matter most to you. These might include family, friends, your health, career, volunteering, travel, hobbies, etc. The point is whatever brings you contentment. Simple investing helps create simple living.
There is detailed information on investing within my website on the investing page along with resources for investing and simple living under the recommended resources page. Please feel free to contact me with comments or questions.