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In high school, I was diagnosed with mono. Looking back, I actually don’t remember a whole lot from that month or two (or however long it actually was), but it did get me out of class and my end of semester exams. I was quarantined in the basement, lived on the couch, and watched TV (nothing too exciting, we had farmer vision).
Every day at 4 p.m. Oprah came on, and there was one episode talking about her book club and the Ken Follett classic, Pillars of the Earth. I think my mom was able to bring home the book the next day.
I’ve owned Pillars of the Earth (I even bought the sequel years ago too) for probably 12 years now, but I have never read the book in full. The book is 973 pages long, and it’s bigger than the average book in height and width, and the print it smaller too. So it’s a very, very long 973 pages. But even so, 12 years is 4,380 days (plus leap year days) — so even if I only read 1 page a day, I should have been able to read this book almost five times over by now. But I’ve yet to read it all. I’m currently on attempt #whoknows and I am the closest to finishing than I’ve ever been.
My issue is I go through phases with reading. Sometimes I’m reading a bunch every day for weeks, and sometimes my book collects a layer of dust between readings. I make a goal (like finishing a book by the end of the month), and start strong, put it off, and then am scrambling last minute to try to meet my goal. I’m not consistent, and I think whenever you have a big challenge ahead of you, consistency is the key to success.
The Same Thing Applies to Saving for Financial Goals
If we take the same approach and save a little bit every day for a long period of time, it has the same effect.
In 12 years I haven’t completed my goals of reading front to back, Pillars of the Earth — by the way, it is a really good book, I’m not, not reading it because it’s bad. But if I took the very simple approach of doing a little, every day, I probably should have been able to read the book probably a dozen times.
As we age, our financial goals get closer and closer. Paying off debt, buying a house, saving for retirement, the list goes on. Especially with retirement, we don’t want to be in a position where we are scrambling last minute. With investing, the earlier we start, or the longer our money is invested for, the more it can work for us. Compound interest is our best friend, but not everyone knows it.
Every year compound interest makes you money from what you deposit, and with each passing year, it also makes money on the money your money makes. So every year, the amount of money it can make money from grows, resulting in you making more money every year, if you earn the same rate of return every year.
We can think about it like any task, saving for retirement, packing before moving, cleaning the house, Christmas shopping, reading a long book, or anything else. It’s a lot better to do little by little, rather than everything last minute. It will feel a lot less overwhelming, it will feel a lot easier, and it’s actually in our best interest.
Sometimes we wait until our finances are in too bad a state, or until our goals are too close to be realistic to make a change or make an effort. And that doesn’t really do us any good. But if we can do a little bit every day, just a bare minimum every day, we are way better off, and way further ahead in the future when we need it most.
Whatever financial goal you have coming up, tackle it little by little. Start small, build the habit, and continue working towards it every day. Eventually, you’ll look back and be in shock what you’ve been able to save, pay-off, or work towards. Just like reading a book, we take it word by word, sentence by sentence, page by page, and eventually, we finish the book.
Disclaimer: The information in this article is not intended to encourage any lifestyle changes without careful consideration and consultation with a qualified professional. This article is for reference purposes only, is generic in nature, is not intended as individual advice and is not financial or legal advice.