it’s understandable to want to be more cautious with your money. Certainly, I would never encourage anyone to speculate with their retirement money; it’s too important. However, investing too conser- vatively may hurt you just as much as being too risky. Wise people may decide to take a fair bit of risk with their money. They know that by investing too conservatively, their money isn’t going to keep up with inflation, thus, lowering the buying power of their money.
When you invest your money, you want it to be working as hard for you as you did for it, right? By socking it away in a CD or money market fund (or worse yet, a savings account), your money isn’t working very hard for you at all. It’s almost just sitting there, waiting for you to come get it. But, investing the money with a little bit more risk may result in your money working harder for you. Again, you just have to be realistic. To want to average 10 percent a year may not be unrealistic. To want 20 percent or more per year is unrealistic. Just invest your money according to how much risk you are comfortable taking, keeping in mind that not all years are rosy and your account may lose some value.
Then there is investing too little money, meaning too little over- all, not in increments that are too little. Generally, there is no such thing as too little, unless you are hitting single-digit numbers. For instance, $5 per week is too little. That is only $260 per year But, if you can invest $50 per week ($2600 per year), that’s much better. The more money you can invest at one time, the better, because then all that money will be able to start working for you. But, truly, any amount is better than nothing.
Investing too little over the long term won’t help you too much. That’s why investing as much as you are comfortable with, and start- ing as early as you can, are so important. It’s so easy to procrastinate, but to do that will mean that you don’t value your retirement. You could be retired for 10, 20, or even 30 years of your life. Don’t you want to be able to enjoy it as much as possible?
These dangers become even greater when you consider the impli- cations of compound earnings, which magnifies these mistakes. Com- pound interest can turn a small investment into a much larger investment over time. That’s why it’s really important to invest your money early, as well as take some risk. Compound interest at 6 percent