Financial gurus tell us how we all need to save and invest more for our future.
But what if saving money is difficult right now because of harsh life situations?
Surely I could find a random penny on the ground here or there, right?
My reasoning was that because of it’s small value, some people might not care much about it and therefore leave it on the ground.
My other reasoning was that, let’s say I don’t find a penny today, if I found a carelessly thrown plastic bottle on the ground, if I could redeem it, that’s about 5 cents.
Or 5 day’s worth of pennies.
And if you keep finding a penny everyday, somehow because you’re so lucky, I wanted to know how much money you would have if you invested it every year for 45 years.
I say 45 years because I’m setting the age when you start at 20 years old, to when you retire at 65 years old.
Assuming you manage to find a penny everyday, invest it, and get an annual return of 6% (which is the stock market average going back a hundred years), you would have—drum roll please—$823.24.
Freakin’ 823 Dollars and 24 cents?!
Not too shabby for 45 years of compound interest.
But let’s be honest, 45 years from now, $823 will probably be like the $80 of today.
And last time I checked, you couldn’t pay for a whole month’s worth of rent with $83 in America, let alone a whole month’s worth of groceries.
Here’s a pic of the calculation in case you didn’t believe me.
So how much money WOULD you have to invest daily to reach any sort of considerable retirement money?
$1 A Day
I changed the penny to a dollar a day to see what the numbers would look like.
So in a year, you’d invest $365.
One dollar for each day of the year.
That number is starting to sound just a little bit better.
But let’s keep going.
$10 A Day
Let’s see how much this is by adding another zero to the equation.
Not too shabby.
Maybe leanFIRE if that’s what you’re going for.
But I reasoned that $10/day is roughly $300 a month.
In San Francisco and Seattle right now, minimum wage is $15/hour.
Assuming you work an 8 hour shift, that’s $15 x 8 hours = $120.
Assuming 25% tax withholding, you walk away with $90/day.
If you put away $10 of that $90 every day, that’s a savings rate of 11%.
That’s more than the 10% minimum savings rate as suggested in “The Richest Man in Babylon” by George S. Clason.
The book changed my life and started me on the FIRE/financial independence journey btw. Get it here.
But I digress.
So with those numbers, saving $10 a day is do-able.
I like thinking of it broken down as $10 a day because it seems more do-able.
For some, thinking of it in terms of putting away $300 a month might be daunting.
It’s like the proverbial eating a whale.
“How do you eat a whale?”
“You take one small bite at a time.”
$100 A Day
This is like level 9000 in Saiyan speak.
This mental experiment level is for that entrepreneurial hustler who wakes up at 5am and spends a couple of hours doing freelance work before they go into work, or a couple of hours an evening after they come home from work.
If you manage to invest that amount daily, in 45 years you’d have:
Now THAT sounds a little more like fatFIRE to me lol.
If you retire at that time, 4% rule says you should be living on a comfortable before tax amount of roughly $330,000 a year.
Ah, but I just remembered.
That means hustling before or after work everyday for 45 years and only putting away $100 a day…
I forgot to factor in vacations and days off.
So maybe cut a few tens of thousands off the estimation.
Hopefully that’s not too rough of a lifestyle change.
But Let’s Be Real
Let’s be real here.
Assuming you take weekends off, and vacations, and holidays, according to the U.S. Department of Personnel Management (I didn’t even know we had such a thing), the average American works about 260 days a year.
Assuming you manage to put away $10/day of those 260 days, that’s $10 x 260 = $2,600 a year to put away.
Assuming you put the same amount away every year for 45 years, with compound interest at 6% annually, that’s only $586,458.77.
$586,458.77 doesn’t sound like a whole lot of money to retire on even in today’s lingo, let alone 45 years in the future.
But Wait a Minute…
To reach FIRE, you need around a million dollars.
That means investing $10 a day for the average 260 work days a year isn’t enough (only $586,000).
So what can you do?
Could you work more days to make the math work?
That doesn’t quite cut it.
We saw the math.
If you invest $10 a day and worked 360 days a year, that’s only $823,000 in 45 years.
How can we reach a million bucks and faster?
Here are some thoughts to help you hustle “smarter” and not “harder” to make the math work.
You Will Get Raises
1) Don’t forget you will probably get a raise at some point, thus allowing you to put away more money.
So over the years, you can keep adding money to your investments and reach a higher ending amount than what we’re currently estimating.
You Can Create Revenue Streams For Passive Income
2) You can create something that requires putting in upfront energy now, but will keep generating you income passively while you sleep.
- You could create a YouTube channel and hope to make it big with sponsors, donors, and ad revenue from views.
- You could also monetize a blog.
- You could monetize a podcast.
- You could invest in cows (I’m currently looking into livestock crowdfarming).
- Real Estate crowdfunding
- Peer to Peer lending (read about my start with Lending Club)
I’m leaning toward the #2 options because it will make me the master of my own fate, versus #1 and being at the mercy of a boss who decides when to give me a raise.
If There’s One Thing You Got From This…
If you’re having trouble saving, you can build up your “saving muscles” by starting small, very small.
And then gradually work your way up to saving bigger and bigger amounts of money.
But remember it’s not just about hustling harder.
It’s also about hustling smarter and spending some time and energy to create something that will work hard for you and generate you income while you sleep.
And when all seems lost and hopeless and you’re feeling down about your financial situation, just remember,
“It all starts with a penny.”
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