The Story of Jack & Jill: Why You Should Start Investing When You’re Young

Screen Shot 2013-04-27 at 5.25.24 PMDelaying making investments in order to launch your career can cost you dearly later on. Smaller investments made between the ages of 18-25 will yield much greater returns than larger investments made later on over a longer period from ages 26-65. Consider the classic parable taught in many basic economic courses:

Jack decided not to go to college. He got a job at 18 and invested $4,000 each year into an IRA. He stopped after eight years after investing a total of $32,000. His sister, Jill, went to medical school, started her medical practice at age 26, at which point she began contributing $4,000 to her IRA. Jill did this for 40 years from 26 to 65. She invested a total of $160,000 and put her money into the same investment as her brother. Jill started investing the same year Jack stopped, and she saved for 40 years compared to just eight years for her brother.

By age 65, whose IRA account do you thing was worth more money?

Assuming both Jack and Jill earned a 10% annual return, Jill accumulated $1,327,778. But Jack had $1,552,739 – $224,961 more than his sister!



8 Investments ($4,000/yr) – Ages 18-25 40 Investments ($4,000/yr) – Ages 26-65

Ultimate value at age 65:


Ultimate Value at age 65:


Jack’s account grows to a higher value because he started sooner!


Screen Shot 2013-04-27 at 5.25.08 PMJack stopped investing at age 26 having invested only $32,000 to Jill’s $160,000. But Jack’s money earned interest for eight years longer than his sister. It wasn’t the money that made him successful – it was the time value of money. Jack didn’t put off investing when he first launched his career. By investing sooner than Jill, his account grew larger.

The moral of this story is not to forego a college education and its promise of higher earning potential. No doubt, Jill earned more disposable income during her career. But Jack’s investment head start was far superior, resulting in substantially greater savings.

Without question, procrastination is the most common cause of financial failure.

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