Fear plays a specific (but different) role in each of our lives. Of course, some of us are more affected than others. But at least to a certain degree, almost all of us experience some measure of fear for our own well-being. As fear relates to money, it is often a motivating force for people’s individual desire to accumulate. The need is not so much for what the money can do now as it is to protect us from unknown forces down the road.
Some people don’t seem to have this instinct at all, and this doesn’t bode well for the long-term health of the American economy. Just in the last two years people have started to really slow their spending down and foremost their spending on credit. It may have a negative effect on things for now, but in the long run we will be far better off.
(We have the lowest savings rate of any developed nation, which is a worrisome thing.) But the rest of us experience this self-protective instinct to put something aside for a rainy day. For some people, this means setting aside a small amount of money for less fortunate times. For still another group, the fear becomes extreme—even irrational—and leads to the unnecessary hoarding (and often counting) of money.
For me having to review this lesson is key; even writing it makes me think. My first time out I made lots of money, but I was over leveraged and in the end lost everything and had to start over again. The second time around I was not as over leveraged and saved money for a rainy day, problem is it seems as though it has been raining for a long time. However saving money for the rainy days has proven to be very wise. The next time around, I plan on having zero leverage, and living completely debt free. That is really the key to success, eliminate the credit and live on what you make and save, use a debit card instead of a credit card.
Let’s acknowledge first that saving money for the future is important. Having said that, the inevitable question that follows is, how much is enough? Setting aside a little money isn’t difficult, but since small amounts can seem so insignificant, it’s easy to lose the discipline to continue. But it is that very discipline that makes saving work. Well, discipline combined with the almost magical power of compound interest.
Compound interest is the key to building wealth. Simply put, it means investing some money, earning interest on your investment, and then leaving both the interest and the principal in place so that you begin to earn interest on your interest (as well as on your principal).
In other words, first your original money earns money, and then the money your money has earned earns more money. This goes on year after year. After years of compounded growth, the annual earnings reach an acceptable level. Eventually, if you’re original investment was large enough, if your rates of interest were competitive, and if you wait long enough, your nest egg will grow large enough to produce an acceptable outside income.