Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Voice of Experience

"Momma always said life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get."

Note to Forest Gump: Check under the lid.

Experience may be the best teacher, but sometimes she's a hard one. Fortunately, we don't have to make every mistake ourselves. Thank God for parents, teachers, writers, preachers, colleagues, friends, and mentors who share their knowledge and experience so that the rest of us don't have to get second degree burns to find out the stove is hot.

Of course, sometimes we're too stubborn to listen to the wisdom of those who have gone before. We've just gotta touch that stove. And once in a while, we discover the stove isn't so hot after all. In fact, it's quite managable if we take certain precautions. Just because someone gives us a piece of advice doesn't mean it's right, or right for us. That's how we gather the experience to pass down to the next generation.

Here's a piece of information I've shared younger relatives when they're ready to make their own way into the world. Suppose Earlybird invested $3000 a year in an index fund from age 25 to 35, and then stopped. Latebloomer waited until age 35 to start investing $3000 a year and continues until age 65. Guess who had the most money at age 65? Yep. Even though Earlybird only invested $30,000 and Latebloomer invested $120,000, Earlybird had more, due to the magic of compounding.* 

Now my father was a Depression baby. He didn't trust the stock market. Would his grandchildren be better off investing in CDs like he did, or taking my advice and putting their money into an S&P index fund? Time will tell. 

I guess the takeaway is to listen, learn, and weigh the advice carefully. We each have to make up our own minds about whether the stove is worth touching. But there's no reason nut haters should have to bite into a cashew chew by accident when there's a map right there on the candy box lid.

Do you have a piece of advice you've either found valuable or are glad you ignored? 

*I'd love to credit the book where I first read this but alas, its title is lost in the mists of time. It's probably still on a library shelf somewhere.


  1. I give the same advice to the just starting out as well!! I wish someone had explained that to me when I was in the army... 18, making a solid paycheck, and having absolutely no bills. It would have been the perfect time to save more than just a bit.

    1. Too bad nobody told you in time. I was in my thirties before I read that tip. Oh, well. We'll try to get the word out.