Why You Should Always Pay Yourself First

May 24, 2006

You’ve heard it over and over again: Pay yourself first.  Why is this so important?  First, it establishes good saving habits.  If you continuously pay yourself first, despite whatever is going on in your life at that time, you will be much more likely to achieve your goals.

Second, the power of compounding.  Sometimes called the 8th wonder of the world, the power of compounding is truly remarkable.  The best way to explain this concept is to show you an example:

Person 1 invests $2,000 per year beginning at age 19 and ending at age 27.  Person 2 invests $2,000 per year beginning at age 27 and continues to invest until retirement age. Assuming the same rate of return (10 percent) in each of the two examples, a person who invests early and for just eight years will have more money at 65 years old than will someone who starts late and invests for nearly 40 years.

Example 1: Example 2:
Age Annual Investment Year-End Value Annual Investment Year-End Value
19 $ 2,000 $2,200 $ 0 $ 0
20 $ 2,000 $4,620 $ 0 $ 0
21 $ 2,000 $7,282 $ 0 $ 0
22 $ 2,000 $10,210 $ 0 $ 0
23 $ 2,000 $13,431 $ 0 $ 0
24 $ 2,000 $ 16,974 $ 0 $ 0
25 $ 2,000 $ 20,872 $ 0 $ 0
26 $ 2,000 $ 25,159 $ 0 $ 0
27 $ 0 $ 27,675 $2,000 $2,200
28 $ 0 $ 30,442 $2,000 $4,620
29 $ 0 $33,487 $2,000 $7,282
30 $ 0 $36,835 $2,000 $10,210
31 $ 0 $40,519 $2,000 $13,431
32 $ 0 $44,571 $2,000 $16,974
33 $ 0 $49,028 $2,000 $20,872
34 $ 0 $53,931 $2,000 $25,159
35 $ 0 $59,324 $2,000 $29,875
36 $ 0 $65,256 $2,000 $35,062
37 $ 0 $71,782 $2,000 $40,769
38 $ 0 $78,960 $2,000 $47,045
39 $ 0 $86,856 $2,000 $53,950
40 $ 0 $95,541 $2,000 $61,545
41 $ 0 $105,095 $2,000 $69,899
42 $ 0 $115,605 $2,000 $79,089
43 $ 0 $127,165 $2,000 $89,198
44 $ 0 $139,882 $2,000 $100,318
45 $ 0 $153,870 $2,000 $112,550
46 $ 0 $169,257 $2,000 $126,005
47 $ 0 $186,183 $2,000 $140,805
48 $ 0 $204,801 $2,000 $157,086
49 $ 0 $225,281 $2,000 $174,995
50 $ 0 $247,809 $2,000 $194,694
51 $ 0 $272,590 $2,000 $216,364
52 $ 0 $299,849 $2,000 $240,200
53 $ 0 $329,834 $2,000 $266,420
54 $ 0 $362,818 $2,000 $295,262
55 $ 0 $399,100 $2,000 $326,988
56 $ 0 $439,010 $2,000 $361,887
57 $ 0 $482,910 $2,000 $400,276
58 $ 0 $531,202 $2,000 $442,503
59 $ 0 $584,322 $2,000 $488,953
60 $ 0 $642,754 $2,000 $540,049
61 $ 0 $707,029 $2,000 $596,254
62 $ 0 $777,732 $2,000 $658,079
63 $ 0 $855,505 $2,000 $726,087
64 $ 0 $941,056 $2,000 $800,896
65 $ 0 $1,035,161 $,2000 $883,185
Less $ invested ($16,000) ($78,000)
$1,019,161 $805,185
Money increased 64 fold 10 fold

Need I say it again?  Pay yourself first, and start early!

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Investment News – Kristine McKinley discusses the 0% Social Security COLA (for 2016) in No Social Security cost-of-living adjustment in 2016.

Kiplinger Magazine/NAPFA – Kristine McKinley answered reader’s tax questions during the 2013 Jump Start Your Retirement Plan Days sponsored by Kiplinger magazine and the NAPFA Consumer Education Foundation.