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A recent conversation with some old friends turned down memory lane. It is amusing that we can experience the same things, yet remember them so differently or not remember them at all.

Without fail, these conversations are always touched by the questions, “What would you do differently?” or “If you could give your younger self some advice, what would you say?”

Sound familiar to anyone else?

Among other regrets, I often say I wish I would have saved more and invested earlier. Pretty typical.

Now, when I look at charts that show the incredible impact of starting early, it stings a little.

Last week, I had two experiences that reminded me of the importance of starting early.

The first was a little chart that landed on my desk.

This chart showed two individuals — investor A and investor B.

Investor A started investing at age 25 by saving $2,000 per year for 10 years, then never added another cent apart from reinvesting.

Investor B started saving at age 35 and instead of investing $2,000 per year for 10 years, invested $2,000 a year for 40 years.

Although investor B invests three times as much money, they never catch up to investor A in that span.

This proves that starting early is more important than saving for a long time. Starting late requires much more money.

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When I saw the chart, I had to do the math myself. After all these years in finance, I am still surprised by the power of compound interest over time.

The second experience I had was a meeting with a young mother.

She wanted to open accounts for her kids. Her children already had savings accounts, but she wanted them to learn how to invest.

I first met with her alone, about halfway through the meeting she said she wanted to wait until her kids could be present and hear everything I had explained. We rescheduled the meeting until we could all meet together.

Later, when she returned with her kids, we had a great discussion.

A significant part of this discussion was the importance of starting early and the power of compound interest.

So, what if you didn’t start early?

Genuinely learning from our past requires change and action. There are two ways we can demonstrate that we have indeed learned from our past mistakes.

If you think you don’t have time, you are probably wrong.

Maybe you have less time than you would like, but the worst option you have is to do nothing. Doing nothing didn’t work before, and it won’t work now.

You can also start with the next generation of loved ones. A child or grandchild would eventually be happy you put them on that path.

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Tom and John Mills are registered investment advisers and certified financial planners. Reach them at 254-0155, MillsWealth.com. Securities offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advice offered through Strategic Wealth Advisors Group (SWAG), a registered investment adviser.

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