Get Rich Slowly

Is it hard to get rich? If you're young, not really.

Its fun to play with financial calculators and see what might happen.

If you have just graduated from college and are about 22 years old and if you put $100 a month in an IRA that grows at 10% a year, you will have around $865,000 at age 65. 10% a year is about what you should expect if the money was placed in a no-load S&P 500 Index Fund.

So for about $23 a week or $3.30 a day you will be close to being a millionaire.

If you contribute the full $4000 a year allowed right now (rising to $5000 in 2008), you would have $2,600,000. For about $11.00 a day, you would have a small fortune.

If you didn't want to take a chance with the stock market (after all, it goes down sometimes), you would still have over $600,000 if you could get a 5% return.

If your grandmother leaves you $10,000 in her will and you invest it for the same 43 years at 10% without adding another cent, you'd still have over $600,000 if you placed it in a tax sheltered account.

Time and the power of compound interest are on your side. So if you're in you twenties, do whatever you have to scrape together that IRA contribution. Every day you procrastinate is another day your money is not working for you.

However, most people in their twenties need the money for more important things, like new cars and HDTV's. You also have student loans to pay, children to raise and the new mortgage to pay off. But if you prioritize your life and stick to a budget, $11.00 a day is doable, although you might have to scrimp here and there.

Consider that most people are spending their livings paying the freight for borrowing 'other people's money".

If you save and invest, other people are paying you to use your money. It's a lot more fun to see your money working than having to work yourself.

It gets harder to amass wealth as you get older. If you wait until you're 32 and put away $4000 at 10%, you would have about $975,000, still a respectable amount.

At 42, you'd only be able to accumulate approximately $350,000.

If you're 50 and can start putting $5000 (those over 50 are allowed "catch up contributions") away today, you'll have around $175,000 at age 65.

Everyone knows that Social Security is not going to allow for a comfortable retirement. Even if the plan can continue to pay out forever, which is questionable right now, the money you receive will be far from generous and is subject to taxation.

You might have a good pension plan at work now, but will you be able to hold your current job to retirement?

If you have a Roth IRA, you can withdraw the money tax free after age 59 �. Imagine having a million tax free dollars you can play with. It will well make up for the small sacrifices you have to make to get there.

No matter what your age, start saving what you can now - today. Even if you only amass $100,000, you'll be better off than most people entering retirement.

Chris Cooper is a retired attorney who has spent several periods of his life deep in debt. At he tries to pass on some of the knowledge he picked up in his journey to become debt free.

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