How to Accumulate Your Most Precious Asset

What is it in life that is most valuable to each of us, yet we cannot touch it or save it? Time. To provide a value for time ask anyone who has suffered an illness and expired before reaching age 70. Time is the most important commodity in life and many of us utilize it in a very inefficient manner.

How can a person accumulate time? By planning each day to focus on your most important people, projects and places. Let us start with people. One of my favorite hobbies is to travel with my family. We have shared vacations in Europe, Hawaii and other exotic locations that are reflected in my memory as the photos are shared during Christmas in a review of our year. 

The excitement your children exhibit when you inform them that you are taking them to Atlantis on vacation is evident on their faces –  smiles so big all their teeth are shining through, and eyes squinted so tight they cannot see the camera in front of them! During our stay in the luxurious Atlantis resort, we had an opportunity to snorkel with and feed the cow-nose rays in the hotel’s aquarium. Our daughters thought this sounded fantastic! So, being the dad that I am, concierge was contacted, and the activity planned.

When we arrived at the aquarium, everything was peaceful. Our younger daughter decided to express her displeasure in the cuisine to be fed to the rays but otherwise we were in good spirits. It was not until the feeding process started that I witnessed a reaction that stopped time and empower our daughter with the ability to walk on water. There are only two people in my memory that walked on water – Jesus and Peter in the New Testament. Now, add Gabrielle to the list! To stimulate the person feeding them to drop their food in their water, the rays will bump your leg or thigh with their sandpaper-like nose. It is a gentle nudge and nothing to alarm you (this is what the guide told us).

Gabrielle was doing well until she was the subject of a gang of rays coming at her and bumping all at the same time. This was more than she could contemplate, and she dropped her food bucket in the water. To understand the next few events that took place, imagine if you were dropping steaks into a crocodile pit. The water began to thrash, and great commotion commenced with much noise. When I finally gained my eyesight from the water splashing, I watched our daughter walk across the top of the water as she headed to dry land while screaming at the top of her lungs!

How does this story relate to time? It is a memory that continues to prove that time well spent is time invested in family. The rest of the trip was less chaotic for our daughter, but the family had one of the most wonderful times spent focusing on each other.

One of the best projects one can utilize their time is the act of giving to their community. Find a civic group and offer to assist in a project to gain perspective about life. What you will find is that your life is secure compared to those you may be assisting for the project. One inhospitable summer a heatwave stifled the air in our community to a point of 115 degrees heat index. Some of our fellow citizens were suffering from heat strokes and required hospitalization. Our local Lions Club jumped into action! We raised money and installed cooling fans in the homes that did not have air conditioning. The hugs and words of gratitude from these individuals remain in my memory as one of the humblest moments in my life.

In a commencement address to the graduates of Stanford University, Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple, gave sage advice to those in attendance, “Your time is limited, so do not waste it living someone else’s life. Do not be trapped by dogma – which is living with the result of other people’s thinking. Do not let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. A most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you genuinely want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

Time is an irreplaceable asset. Use it wisely and spend it with those that truly bring you happiness. If you want to live a life maximizing your opportunities and memories, consider meeting with a Certified Financial Planner™ professional to create your plan for the future. Whether you are ready or not, the future will arrive.

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The Elusive Measure of Time

One of the curious hobbies I enjoy is reading grave markers when attending a funeral or during a day of honoring our loved ones. My wife often remarks, “What fascinates you with grave markers?” I often smile and simply say, “time”. She looks at me with that look of confusion she gives me and walks back to the family and friends we met while visiting the cemetery.

The primary fascination for me is not simply the design and epitaphs engraved on the stones but rather the dates and the dash between birth and death. This simple mark represents, in some cases, only a few years. In other cases, it represents a century or more. In my journals, I often wax philosophically about time and its power.

Time is an element of life that is studied by physicists and cosmologists that continues to be a mystery to this day. There are many theories about the beginning of time and the passing of it. However, my focus on this powerful environmental phenomenon is the use of the tool. Yes, to me, time is a tool or power that can be wielded in great ways. Conversely, time can be squandered by those who don’t understand its power or their ability to control it.

What is important about time and why write about it in a financial column? When something as powerful as time is not recognized by many until its too late, it would behoove us to begin today with an acknowledgement of all the wonderful attributes and uses of this facet of life. First, time is the creator of all memories for humans. My father, a great storyteller of our family’s history, always starts a story with, “when I was younger…”. Hearing this opening sentence piques my mind and perks up my ears for another great tale of the Williams Family and potential joys and hardships of pioneer life. (As a side note, I am laughing while writing this column as thoughts about my father’s stories of his six mile walk to school which always included unusual terrain like “uphill both ways” and meteorological phenomena such as “in a foot of snow”.)

Second, time is a power that yields exponential benefits. When it comes to investing for your future, you have read many times in this column that time is the one factor we can’t control but can utilize to achieve greatness. A favorite song of mine as a teenager (this may reveal my age) was called, “Time in a Bottle,” by Jim Croce. The songwriter imagines what he would do if he could capture time and use it with his own discretion. Of course, he is dreaming and the song is pure fiction but the writer’s life ended abruptly at the young age of 30 when a single-engine plane in which he was a passenger hit a tree on take-off in 1973. Truly he did not control time or he would have wished for longevity.

One of the benefits of time is the growth of money. By starting to save as young in age as possible, one has the potential to accumulate a significant investment portfolio by retirement age. For example, if you initiate your lifetime savings plan by age 25 and save for the next forty-two years, you will have saved a considerable amount of funds, if invested properly, to retire at age 67. This is called compounding of your investment. What you invest today will, theoretically, earn interest that will then earn interest on itself which compounds or builds your savings at a greater pace as time passes.

Lastly, time is finite for humans. No one throughout history has lived since the beginning of time. Each of us will one day be remembered by the dash placed on our grave marker. This is not meant to be a depressing statement but rather one to empower and motivate you to live a life of abundance creating memories and assets. Your dash can be as powerful as the dash of presidents or celebrities such as Elvis Presley. The world is waiting, and was established, for you to contribute to society for the purpose you were born. 

Starting today, smile more, laugh more and serve more to create a story your ancestors will be proud to share of the life you lived with fullness. To help you plan for the future, contact a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERTM professional. Your legacy and lifetime fulfillment are in your control. It is time you made a plan to utilize and harness the time in your dash to become a bigger, better and bolder you. See you on the walking trail!

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Time — Your Most Powerful Savings Weapon

The most powerful factor to assist in the planning for your future is time. However, time is also the one factor of investing that you can’t control. What do you do? 

To properly unleash the power of time in the calculation of compounding interest, you must start early to invest. You have more control over your future than you know. For example, if you saved only $100 each month from the time you graduate college at age 22 until you reach 30 and invest it prudently, say at an annual return of 6%, you would accumulate $12,344.27. Not quite ready to retire at age 30, right?

What happens when you continue saving each month but the amount is increased to $250 from age 30 until age 67, which is the age full retirement age for Social Security Benefits and assume the same annual rate of return? Of course, the amount in your savings account would be much higher if all assumptions were realized. How much would you realize in your savings account at age 67? You would have accumulated $522,896.95! Now, can you retire and live the life you choose? It depends. 

The key financial principles to learn from this illustration is that time and compounding of interest have helped you grow your account by $402,296.95 and you only invested $120,600. What if you had invested a little more each month, say $500 per month from the age of 30? You would realize a total of $932,763.11! To illustrate the power of these two financial principles, you have saved only $231,600 from your earnings and the account grew $701,163.11. 

What if we looked at this from another angle? Let’s assume that you enjoy coffee. Instead of the latte with extra espresso that costs $3.50 per day, you save this amount in your savings account each week for a total of and invest the funds to earn 6% annually. How much would you have accumulated in 45 years? $294,561.07! Now, that is a lot of coffee money.

The overall lesson to learn from these illustrative calculations is that you can save a significant amount of money for retirement if you start early in life. Time is the most powerful of element when growing money for the future. Of course, no one earns an exact 6% each year for forty-five consecutive years. However, the calculations provide you some motivation to start saving at the earliest point in your life. 

One of the best methods of accumulating money is to fund your employer retirement plan with as much as you can defer from your salary. Most plans feature a matching contribution from the employer, when coupled with your potential for growth, would help you reach your savings goals faster.

These simple concepts can work for you if you maintain discipline in the process. Too many people believe they have plenty of time to save for retirement and create a lifestyle that is too costly to allow them to save. Here is the trick to this process: do what wealthy people do. Save first and spend the rest! See you on the golf course.

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