Most people wish they had started saving money earlier. I do.
I didn’t marry until I was almost 35. So I had plenty of time without kids or a wife to sock away a bunch of change, right?
Well, it didn’t work out that way. It’s not that I squandered my paycheck. The money just seemed to disappear while paying bills and having a little fun.
Now I’m 53 and twice-divorced with primary custody of my 11-year-old son. Sure wish I had a fat bank account to draw upon – one that I’d built up when I was young and free.
Do I kick myself for not saving more when I had the chance? Yes. But I also know I’m far from alone. As Americans, we’re generally lousy savers.
I ran across a book recently that eased my mind a bit. It’s called Start Late, Finish Rich: A No-Fail Plan for Achieving Financial Freedom at Any Age by David Bach.
He’s speaking to me. And maybe to you too.
“It’s only too late if you give up,” Bach writes. “Stop asking yourself why you didn’t do what you should have done. The real question is: What are you going to do about it now?”
He assures people, even those my age and older, that it’s not too late to build a sizeable nest egg to enjoy and to leave to your heirs.
“It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon,” says Bach, who has written several bestsellers and hosts financial seminars.
Learn to spend less, save more
He divides the 348-page book into five parts, including Spend Less and Save More.
In the Spend Less section, he writes that almost everyone earns enough to save significantly.
“You’ve been programmed to spend what you earn … and more,” Bach writes.
How true. That’s an important message, especially during the holidays when people fall victim to endless ads and spend far more than they should.
On the recent Black Friday, I never left home. I didn’t want to pass by stores and be tempted by the sale banners and presence of other shoppers.
To stop out-of-control spending, Bach recommends starting small. For example, forego the morning latte. Gradually, you can find other regular purchases you don’t need. As your spending awareness grows, your expenditures decline, Bach says.
“You’d be amazed at how big a nest egg you can create saving just $10 or $20 a day,” he writes.
In the Save More section, Bach recommends setting up an automatic deduction for savings from your paycheck. He gives a rule of thumb: Save at least an hour a day of your income.
If you earn $50,000 a year, that translates to about $25 an hour. So Bach suggests saving $25 per workday or $125 a week.
“It’s actually easier to save when you pay yourself first,” he says.
Start Late, Finish Rich offers easy-to-understand, common-sense advice. I’ve read a number of financial books. The methods for achieving wealth vary, but there’s one common denominator in all systems: self-discipline.
It takes self-discipline to spend less, save more and invest wisely. You don’t have to be a genius to build wealth. But you have to control yourself and not let little decisions today wreck a comfortable tomorrow.
Almost anyone can build wealth. Start by following this mantra: Spend less, save more. No financial guru can force you to adhere to that advice. The power lies within yourself.