When Keren was just 21, she did one of the cleverest things she has ever done – and she didn’t even know it at the time!
She started to pay into her employer’s pension and share schemes. She would not be able to access either investment for several years, so it was a good discipline for longer-term savings. And it was a discipline that Keren knew she needed – like most other people, she tended to spend whatever money she had. These investments were taken directly from her salary, so she never saw the cash and therefore didn’t miss it.
As time progressed, Keren earned more – and always found a fun way to spend her surplus income, whether that was on holidays, eating out, getting a better car or buying beautiful things. This is a widespread phenomenon – most people will spend whatever money they have unless they save or invest it as soon as they receive their salary.
In her late twenties, Keren saw a financial planner. ‘Congratulations! You have much higher net worth than most people your age.’ Her heart swelled and a gentle smile played on her lips as she thought back to that decision she took when she was starting out. Until then, she had not looked at the value of her investments. In fact, she had hardly thought about them at all.
There was more to do; she often used her overdraft and she needed to diversify her investments, but she had made a great start.
To illustrate this, if you invest £10,000 at the age of 21 with a stable annual return of 5%, that investment will be worth £70,400 by the time you reach 61. If the same amount was invested at the age of 41, the fund would only be worth £26,500 by the age of 61. That is the ‘magic’ of compound interest and the benefit of starting young. Mighty oaks do indeed grow from little acorns, given enough time!
To give your investments as long as possible to gain value, the best time to start your financial planning is today.
Keren had always wanted to travel the world, and her early financial planning allowed her to do just that. In her thirties, she took some time out to travel and study. Although she didn’t earn a salary during this period, made no pension contributions and ate into her investments to pay for it, she knew that she could afford it. Her pension continued to grow in value while she was away, and she had the adventure of a lifetime.
In our last blog, we talked about financial planning as a means to an end, not the end in itself. Keren’s story is an illustration of this principle in practice.
Life throws many surprises at us and although we cannot predict the outcome of any situation, we can take control of how we prepare and respond to certain situations through regular financial planning. Taking control of our personal finances allows us to live the life that we want - a life of meaning and adventure today and in the future.
This is one of a series of blogs on financial planning, aimed at women specifically because of the huge disparity there often is between men and women when it comes to personal finance. What do you wish you had known, that we can share with our readers? Or what would you like to understand better? Please let us know in the comments below or contact us directly: Keren’s email address is firstname.lastname@example.org and Julia can be reached at email@example.com.