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Compounding: The Potential Power of Time

By Carl Trevison and Stephen Bearce

Compounding: The Potential Power of Time

Why is time of the essence? The sooner you begin saving — even small amounts — the better your chance of reaching your retirement goals. Consider the following example that shows how much waiting to invest can cost.

Put time on your side. Let’s assume hypothetical Investor A invested $1,000 per year for 10 years, beginning at age 30 and reinvested his returns (interest, dividends, capital gains) back into his account. Investor B invested the same amount per year, earned an identical rate of return, and reinvested her returns; however, she waited until age 45 to start with the strategy and continued with it for twice as long (20 years). Even though Investor A saved less money — half as much as Investor B — Investor A had more money at the time of retirement, all because of starting earlier.

What’s the secret? The extra years of compounding are what boosted Investor A’s bottom line. Investor B will now have to save considerably more if she wants to catch up. This is the potential cost of waiting. It doesn’t matter what age you are — you’ll have more time on your side if you start saving for retirement today.

What can you do next? A few simple steps can help you along the road to retirement savings:

  • Talk with your financial advisor about how much you should be saving for retirement.
  • Use a savings calculator to see compounding in action and how little changes to your spending can have a big impact on how much you can save for retirement.
  • Commit to increasing your ongoing contributions to your 401(k), at least to the maximum of your employer’s match (if any), or IRA.
  • Avoid taking loans from your 401(k) if possible to keep focused upon your long-term needs.
  • If you change jobs, understand your retirement distribution options and the full cost of cashing out.
  • Consider opening an IRA if you’re already maxing out your employer-sponsored plan contributions for an additional tax-advantaged savings opportunity, or if you don’t have access to an employer plan. If you’re self-employed, consider establishing a Simplified Employee Pension (SEP), SIMPLE IRA, or other plan with similar tax advantages.

Bottom line, it’s never too early — or too late — to start saving for retirement. Use retirement calculators to get an idea about how much you should save, and ask your financial advisor about tax-advantaged accounts.

Our firm does not provide tax or legal advice.

This article was written by/for Wells Fargo Advisors and provided courtesy of Carl M. Trevisan, Managing Director-Investments and Stephen M. Bearce, First Vice President- Investments in Alexandria, VA at 800-247-8602.

Investments in securities and insurance products are: NOT FDIC-INSURED/NOT BANK-GUARANTEED/MAY LOSE VALUE

Wells Fargo Advisors is a trade name used by Wells Fargo Clearing Services, LLC, Member SIPC, a registered broker-dealer and non-bank affiliate of Wells Fargo & Company.

© 2018 Wells Fargo Clearing Services, LLC. All rights reserved.

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