Here is all the saving, investing, and retirement advice I wish someone had told me at the very beginning of my career

REUTERS/Darrin Zammit Lupi

Most people do not realise that if you are not saving in a retirement plan, you’re actively choosing to lose money. That’s because retirement savings let you accumulate free money. Learning to say yes to free money is a skill you can turn into a habit. If you don’t know what compounding is, this is going to blow your mind.

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, I enrolled in my employer’s retirement savings plan. Five percent of each paycheck went into a bunch of mutual funds. For the first few months, I didn’t pay much attention to my money. There wasn’t very much of it, anyway. But then the stock market kept appearing on the news because the Dow Jones kept hitting new record highs.

Wait a minute, I thought. I wonder how that’s affecting my savings?

So I looked at a quarterly statement and saw that my little nest-egg had gained £250 (about $330) all on its own. Whoa, I thought. That’s free money for doing nothing! I wish someone had told me about this before!

Here is all the saving and investment advice I wish someone had told me at the very beginning of my career.

It’s a guide to saving for retirement if you’re just a normal person, especially if you’re in your 20s and this stuff sounds too complicated.

Start now.

I cannot urge you strongly enough to sign up and get started, now. Especially if you are in your 20s. Failing to save in your 20s could cost you hundreds of thousands by the time you hit your 60s. (There’s a good theoretical example of why that is here.)

Don’t wait a decade for money to fall from the sky.

When you’re at the beginning of your career

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