Patience has got to be the worst virtue. I would much rather practice courage or prudence than focus on showing restraint and delaying gratification, especially now with the convenience of modern technology. For example, if I can’t order the Kindle edition from Amazon directly to my iPad, then guess what, I don’t read that book. It’s shameful but true.
However, patience can be an incredibly powerful tool, especially in the realm of personal finance. Showing restraint can save you money and allow you accumulate wealth over time:
Generally, if I’m going to spend over $100 on something, I make myself wait for at least a couple of weeks. If it’s a purchase of $500 or more, I generally wait over a month. The reason why is twofold: First, waiting ensures that I actually want what I’m buying. If a couple of weeks or a month go by and I still want whatever “thing” I have my eyes set on, then I probably really want it.
Second, even if I do still want that “thing,” often something better comes along, and I’m glad I haven’t already spent that discretionary money. So in the end, you have potentially either saved yourself from buying something you really didn’t want to begin with or enabled yourself to buy something even better. Either way, waiting pays off.
The greatest tool for wealth accumulation is time. Saving a little now can accumulate into quite a lot through the power of compounding interest. For example, say you max out your Roth IRA from the age of 30 until you are 65. That’s 35 years of investing just $5,500 per year ($6,500 once you reach the age of 50). If you continue this practice and assume a modest return of 6% per year, your contributions will have accumulated to over $675,000 by the time you reach 65.
Now, that’s not enough to retire on a private island, but that’s a pretty decent sum considering the limited contributions made each year. Imagine the accumulation if you are fortunate enough to have an employer provided 401(k) where you can contribute $18,000 per year ($24,000 once you reach the age of 50). But the point remains the same: consistent contributions made over a long period of time create big returns on your money.
Impulse purchases and quick investment gains give our brains a temporary mood boost and make us feel good right now, but patient purchases and profits are the key to long term wealth accumulation.
Josh Norris is an Investment Advisory Representative of LeFleur Financial. Josh can be reached at josh@LeFleurFinancial.com.