Canada $1000 Bill

Most of us know what compound interest is. And no matter how many times we see a graph that illustrates that, it’s always pretty astounding. All you have to do is look at one of my Money Monday posts to see what I mean. The thing is that it is also really distressing to think about it in the opposite way.

Don’t Find Yourself Treading Water

If you took an eye dropper to squeeze a single drop of water and it doubled in size every minute, you’d have about a liter of water (1.012 to be exact) in 10 minutes. Here comes that hockey stick effect, because if you waited 40 minutes, you’d have enough water to fill BC Place Stadium (2,644,800,000 liters). This is a typical illustration of the power of compounding interest.

Let’s turn that around for a second. You’re sitting in BC Place Stadium at the top level, handcuffed to a seat. By the time you notice that the ground is covered with a knee high level of water, you’d essentially be left with 5 minutes to call for help. Of course no one would care if the ground was a bit damp. You’d have a quick look and go back to looking at the handcuffs trying to shake yourself out of them. You’d have five minutes to pull your phone out and call someone for help. Would even 10 minutes do?

What’s Money Got To Do With It?

If you don’t start saving money for retirement today or tomorrow, the amount you need to save also compounds. Let’s say you want $7 million saved (approx $60,000/month in today’s dollars) by the time you’re 65 years old. Let’s look at how much money you’d need to put away based on the number of years you have to save.

  • 40 years: $2041/month
  • 35 years: $3083/month
  • 30 years: $4750/month
  • 25 years: $7416/month
  • 20 years: $11916/month
  • 15 years: $20250/month
  • 10 years: $38166/month
  • 1 year: $583333/month

This graph illustrates the data above. The amount is SO exponential that you can’t even see the amount in the beginning.

This is a second graph which only shows the first 20 years.

Start Saving NOW

I can’t spell it out any clearer on how ridiculously difficult it is to save when you put it off. You can tell yourself that you’ll save when you make more money, only to find that the amount you need to save has now gotten higher. And it’s not savings, per se. It’s at least knowing what your plan will be. Maybe you’re biding your time while you build a business as a part of a retirement plan. Maybe you’re sitting on a huge inheritance. Either way, wake up and smell the retirement people. It’s coming quicker than you think!