Late starters: what age did you start investing?

Non-investing personal finance issues including insurance, credit, real estate, taxes, employment and legal issues such as trusts and wills

Late starters: what age did you start investing?

30-34
104
53%
35-39
44
22%
40-44
18
9%
45-49
15
8%
50+
15
8%
 
Total votes: 196

RobertAlanK
Posts: 151
Joined: Mon Dec 28, 2009 4:31 pm

Re: Late starters: what age did you start investing?

Post by RobertAlanK »

My first real investment was in my late 20's when my ex-wife and I bought shares in one front-load mutual fund. Then came grad school and divorce after which I was back to square one. In my late 30's, my father died and left me about $60K from a life insurance policy. I opened up a Merrill Lynch account which went nowhere, particularly after the dot.com bust and a couple of major life/career transitions.

So, it wasn't until my late 40's when, realizing how far behind I was, that I began to really educate myself and put a focus on investing wisely. It took a few years to learn some valuable lessons but fortunately I was able use that knowledge to stay-the-course pretty well through 2008-09, and my career took off at that time as well. As a result, I think I'm on track to meet my goals. However, for me retirement will be later than for many, if not most, Bogleheads here. But, I've always been a late bloomer. :)
Topic Author
LateStarter1975
Posts: 682
Joined: Tue Jul 02, 2013 4:50 pm

Re: Late starters: what age did you start investing?

Post by LateStarter1975 »

black jack wrote:effilus (accumulating $500k in 10 years on a $50k income) is definitely the rock star in this thread but their technique (living on $900 a month) is hard to emulate for those not in a rural area: heck, my mortgage on a modest home in the DC suburbs is more than $900/month.

At the other extreme is avenger, who has saved $270k and paid off $100k in loans in "almost 3 years." Most people (even on this forum) probably don't even MAKE $370k in three years, let alone are able to set that much aside.

In both cases, though, the basic principle is the same: live below your means and invest the rest.

I had saved about $16k in an IRA(?) by the time I was 30, then quit my job and spent that money traveling, then went back to grad school. Turning 40 focused my mind; I started investing then. The good news is that I then discovered the Vanguard Diehards at Morningstar, and thus started on the right path. Since I turned 40 in 1999, my investing period has been defined in part by the crashes of 2000 and 2008, so I feel reasonably confident that my "stay the course" resolve has been tested.

We live below our means (well below, in one sense; my wife stopped working when our child was born, 13 years ago, and so if need be could go back to work to increase our household income) in a fairly high-cost area; by steady saving we've managed to accumulate around $400k over the past 15 years. I plan to retire at 68, after my daughter (presumably) graduates from college, and so have another 13 years to save, if the universe cooperates.
LateStarter1975 wrote:Thanks for all your posts. One thing I've noted is that the majority do no regret not starting earlier and some of you even think starting to invest in your 30's is not late. So what would you consider starting late? When I visualize those graphs of the two brothers that started investing at different times, one at 18 to 26 and the other from 25 to 65, it always shows that the first brother who started earlier and only invested for 8 or 9 years still had much more money at retirement.
I started investing at age 36 and I wish I started earlier for that singular reason. However, it feels refreshing to know you're making progress.
The secret to happiness is to view whatever you do (or happens to you) in a positive light. Even people who have been wrongly imprisoned for years often come out saying that it was the best thing that could have happened to them, saved them from the likely consequences of the life they were leading, etc. So those of us who started saving later in life are, if we're wise, going to rationalize it rather than regret it. I really enjoyed my travels, and being in grad school; I'm content now, and if I had lived my life in a different way, I might have lots more money now but would I be any happier? But I've also been fortunate: I have good health, a wonderful wife and child, and a job I enjoy. Sickness, death of loved ones, losing one's job - these would be much greater challenges to one's contentment than a late start on saving and a smaller retirement account.

Deep insight. +1
Debt is dangerous...simple is beautiful
Topic Author
LateStarter1975
Posts: 682
Joined: Tue Jul 02, 2013 4:50 pm

Re: Late starters: what age did you start investing?

Post by LateStarter1975 »

nchunter wrote:I started relatively late. 38 or so. Wife has always contributed to 401k and had a generous company match. Therefore by the time she was 39 she had about 250k in a 401k and a partial pension. I on the other hand sold a business and lost a small fortune. I watched all my liquidity evaporate from 07-13. I started a new career in 2010 but was still paying for past sins. However, I did manage to save about 20k in a company simple IRA. Then this year my career change has been paying off. In half a year, I have saved 17,500 in my 401k already, plus employer match of 3%. I put 50k into a taxable account this month and I am due another bonus in August that should net me another 60k. My plan is to put the entire amount in taxable account as well. We always had an emergency fund of 50k, so just this year I will have managed to have gone from 20k in retirement saving(not counting wife) to 150k plus. We live relatively frugally so my base salary and her base salary easily cover living expenses. We still save about 25% after tax income in a typical year. She puts in about 17% of her pay now to max her 401k as well. I do feel like I came roaring back this year. I feel more relaxed knowing that by end of the year all things being equal, We will have over 450k saved.
I always felt guilty for my past mistakes so it great to have the personal balance sheet cleaned up to where bonuses and extra money go straigt to retirement accounts. I know my experience is not typical because I will have made about 300k this year based on salary and commissions, plus I have a spouse making over 100k, however, with the sting of past lessons, the temptation for lifestyle creep is actually non-existent.
The first bonus hit this past friday while on vacation and while we may have indulged the kids with a dolphin tour for a few hundred bucks, I felt relieved knowing the 50 grand in the checking account was beng transfered to Vanguard come Monday.
Impressive. You are killing it...keep it up!
Debt is dangerous...simple is beautiful
Buckeye
Posts: 464
Joined: Mon Feb 26, 2007 3:08 pm

Re: Late starters: what age did you start investing?

Post by Buckeye »

I was about 32 and my wife was almost 30. Our net worth remained negative for the first 3 years or so.
User avatar
Alskar
Posts: 643
Joined: Wed Jan 06, 2010 10:52 pm
Location: Oregon

Re: Late starters: what age did you start investing?

Post by Alskar »

I owe a debt of gratitude to an older engineer I was working with in 1993. I was 32 years old. He worked for AT&T/Bell Labs. This was during the collapse of that once-great institution and he was really sweating his own retirement situation. During lunch one day he asked me how much I was saving for retirement. I told him 5% (which was just enough to get the company match). He said I was nuts for only saving 5%. He recommended increasing my savings rate 2% per year; basically giving up my raise every year. I did that for 5 years until I got to what was then the maximum of 15%. His advice was both timely and appropriate.

So I started saving when I was 31, but didn't start maxing out my 401(k) until I was 37. Been putting in the IRS maximum ever since.
Lagom är bäst
aCautiousWind
Posts: 44
Joined: Tue Jun 10, 2014 10:50 am
Location: Spokane

Re: Late starters: what age did you start investing?

Post by aCautiousWind »

I feel like I'm starting late (I'm only 27, but just found this forum this month and have NO history in investing or finance prior to my new job), after spending a few years in Seminary (I'm now working at a small investment firm, go figure), but I'm grateful for the insight. I am looking forward to January, when I will have been at my job for one year, and be eligible for a 401k plan. My wife has $32k in a 403(b) from her former job, and she is going to roll that over into Vanguard shortly. We are both 27 and have an 8 month old, so we will be starting to save for her college soon as well.

Excited to get started, and glad that I have 6 months left to continue building our emergency fund.
-ACW | | "The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it." -Thoreau
bucksfan2
Posts: 112
Joined: Fri Nov 04, 2011 1:30 pm

Re: Late starters: what age did you start investing?

Post by bucksfan2 »

My dad started an account for me when I was a kid. When I was eligible for my company's 401(K) at 23 I started to put 5% to get the max company match. I work for a family owned company and after a couple of years I got kicked out of that program and was given a bonus to cover what would have been my contribution with the recommendation to start a Roth IRA. My adviser at the time recommended putting the max of $5K in a Roth and have done that ever since, about 6 years later.

Recently I have been increasing the amount of money I contribute each week to my 401K. I haven't gotten to the point where I can max out my 401(K), I am hoping to get there in the next few years. I had a wife going back to school and a toddler in the house that took up a lot of our finances.
kmmm
Posts: 25
Joined: Sun Jan 06, 2013 10:25 am

Re: Late starters: what age did you start investing?

Post by kmmm »

Funny I just went through the exercise of looking back at my retirement savings patterns. I started 17 years ago when I was 28, with a whopping $1,300 in my 401K. Next year I saved $4,800, then almost $9K the year after. So I was on a good upward trajectory - but unfortunately I stayed there for about 10 years, never hitting the maximum in my 401K or realizing I could save further in an IRA. I did save in non-retirement vehicles, bought property, had a child and funded a 529, etc. But I absolutely could have saved more in tax-advantaged accounts if I had been a more educated and disciplined investor.

When I hit age 40 in 2009 I started maxing out my 401K, then added an IRA a year later.
Topic Author
LateStarter1975
Posts: 682
Joined: Tue Jul 02, 2013 4:50 pm

Re: Late starters: what age did you start investing?

Post by LateStarter1975 »

Buckeye wrote:I was about 32 and my wife was almost 30. Our net worth remained negative for the first 3 years or so.

I have a feeling this story turned out mighty well...do you care to elaborate how you have don since those frist 3 years of negative net worth? My net worth turned positive for the first time in 2013. I can relate to that feeling
Debt is dangerous...simple is beautiful
montanagirl
Posts: 1440
Joined: Thu Nov 19, 2009 4:55 pm
Location: Montana

Re: Late starters: what age did you start investing?

Post by montanagirl »

I don't think I got started until I was 45. My life was a mess up until then, though I usually managed to save enough to get from one gig to the next, one town to the next, so I wasn't a burden on anyone.

But when I finally got married and got a regular job, I started maxing out my IRA right away, as well as paying of my student loans, car and house. Then my company got a 401k in 1998 (with no match) and I started contributed 15% to that while still maxing out the IRA. I only wish now that I'd been more aggressive instead of "hiding" in government bond funds for so long. But when you don't have much money or job security, you worry about losing what you have.

As I have said elsewhere, I don't have a lot but I made it to 65 and do not have to claim early SS as it seems everyone around me is. I can easily support myself until 70 and still have a nest egg left over.

One thing I recommend, is that even if you have lots of debt to pay, start some kind of modest savings & investment routine anyway, and keep your hands off it. It gets to be kinda sacred and gives you hope that you will get it all together someday. I started at the old Twentieth Century fund company and the minimum investment IIRC was only 250.
Grt2bOutdoors
Posts: 23203
Joined: Thu Apr 05, 2007 8:20 pm
Location: New York

Re: Late starters: what age did you start investing?

Post by Grt2bOutdoors »

I got started at 20 - I was the first of my siblings to open an IRA for $100, then got talked into liquidating it :oops: in the 7 day look-back period with no penalties by my folks who had cashed theirs out to buy a home (actually that was a better investing decision on their part). Instead, I opened a taxable account with Twentieth Century for $20; $10 in Growth Investors and $10 in Select. After I got my first job and had enough money I opened an IRA with Fidelity around age 24. Back then it seemed like such a sacrifice, I'm glad I did it instead of waste it in a bar.
"One should invest based on their need, ability and willingness to take risk - Larry Swedroe" Asking Portfolio Questions
crg11
Posts: 472
Joined: Sat Jan 04, 2014 8:16 am

Re: Late starters: what age did you start investing?

Post by crg11 »

Started at age 22 right out of college, but I always did the bare minimum until this year (age 32). With mid 5 figures saved up from 10 years of not trying, I'm hoping to really accelerate my savings and investing now as a Boglehead :)
Michread
Posts: 149
Joined: Sat Oct 19, 2013 11:50 am

Re: Late starters: what age did you start investing?

Post by Michread »

At age 27 when I was eligible for the company 401K. You should have an under 30 category in your poll.
Early retirement 2018
Traveler
Posts: 849
Joined: Fri Aug 30, 2013 9:07 pm

Re: Late starters: what age did you start investing?

Post by Traveler »

Prior to 30 I had about $4000 in an IRA from a former employer. Once I graduated from B School, I had a much better paying job and contributed much more to my 401K. At 42 I now max out my 401K and save another $30-35K in a taxable account each year. I feel like I'm behind but I'm sure I'm well ahead of the average person my age.
Ldevelopment
Posts: 106
Joined: Thu Mar 29, 2012 3:55 pm

Re: Late starters: what age did you start investing?

Post by Ldevelopment »

Traveler wrote:Prior to 30 I had about $4000 in an IRA from a former employer. Once I graduated from B School, I had a much better paying job and contributed much more to my 401K. At 42 I now max out my 401K and save another $30-35K in a taxable account each year. I feel like I'm behind but I'm sure I'm well ahead of the average person my age.

I can understand the feeling. Hanging around this website can cause these feelings as there are some very high earners and uber savers on this forum. If you're saving that amount of money ever year, that's light years ahead of "average".
User avatar
LowER
Posts: 681
Joined: Sat Sep 29, 2012 12:43 pm

Re: Late starters: what age did you start investing?

Post by LowER »

I started in my 20's but lost it all in a divorce in my mid 40's. I got to zero NW a couple of years later and have been saving like crazy (some say literally) since then.

This time, I started investing a few years shy of 50.
Topic Author
LateStarter1975
Posts: 682
Joined: Tue Jul 02, 2013 4:50 pm

Re: Late starters: what age did you start investing?

Post by LateStarter1975 »

LowER wrote:I started in my 20's but lost it all in a divorce in my mid 40's. I got to zero NW a couple of years later and have been saving like crazy (some say literally) since then.

This time, I started investing a few years shy of 50.

Wow...that is painful. How are you doing now? Do you feel you have overcome that setback now?
Debt is dangerous...simple is beautiful
aquifer
Posts: 326
Joined: Sat Oct 20, 2012 9:01 am

Re: Late starters: what age did you start investing?

Post by aquifer »

I was 38 when I started seriously saving for retirement. I was 43 when I really got serious and decided it was time to figure this whole retirement thing out. That's when I found the Bogleheads. I learned that I have been a Boglehead my entire life without knowing it even tho I knew nothing about investing, nor had I ever heard of John Bogle. I am fortunate to have found a high paying job and can make up for lost time, and I'm fortunate to have found the Bogleheads. The underlying philosophies are so logical to me that I have every confidence that I'll stay the course forever. I now have a solid 6 figure portfolio and am on track to have a good sized nest egg at retirement. I continue to save more than my plan calls for in hopes to retire earlier.
Twins Fan
Posts: 2775
Joined: Fri Mar 08, 2013 1:02 pm

Re: Late starters: what age did you start investing?

Post by Twins Fan »

Michread wrote:At age 27 when I was eligible for the company 401K. You should have an under 30 category in your poll.
Under 30 is not a late starter, which is the point of the poll!! If your post starts off with, I started at 20, 22, 23, 27... or any other twenty something number,...... stop posting in this one!! :D You're NOT a "late starter"!

I finally got started with all this at 39. I think the poll should be only groups from 35 on up for late starters.
User avatar
LowER
Posts: 681
Joined: Sat Sep 29, 2012 12:43 pm

Re: Late starters: what age did you start investing?

Post by LowER »

LateStarter1975 wrote:
LowER wrote:I started in my 20's but lost it all in a divorce in my mid 40's. I got to zero NW a couple of years later and have been saving like crazy (some say literally) since then.

This time, I started investing a few years shy of 50.

Wow...that is painful. How are you doing now? Do you feel you have overcome that setback now?
I am fortunate in that my income is good and my monthly nut is quite small. Because of the lack of compounding interest over those decades, I will never overcome that setback entirely, but that won't stop me from trying.
Garthilk
Posts: 50
Joined: Wed Oct 09, 2013 10:59 pm

Re: Late starters: what age did you start investing?

Post by Garthilk »

Started saving for retirement and investing in 2012 at 34 years of age. :oops:
qwerty3020
Posts: 27
Joined: Tue May 28, 2013 7:12 pm

Re: Late starters: what age did you start investing?

Post by qwerty3020 »

I really didn't start investing until I finished school at got a real job at age 29. I didn't really understand investing or have a plan until age 31, when my daughter was born. I'm 33 now.
stonerolled
Posts: 51
Joined: Sun Sep 30, 2012 8:16 am

Re: Late starters: what age did you start investing?

Post by stonerolled »

I began deferring income to investments at age 33.
Had a modest inheritance in high cost, front load ML and EJ funds since 22. A non-boglehead parent chose those.
Been passive investor since age 44.
Enkidu
Posts: 207
Joined: Mon Jun 02, 2014 8:48 am

Re: Late starters: what age did you start investing?

Post by Enkidu »

I started investing for retirement when I joined the Feds at 42 and retired last month at age 62. I am confidant that we will be fine considering our spending level and my federal pension, SS, deferred income, taxable assets, Roth assets, and real estate.

I was in a job with limited growth potential until my mid-30's and had accumulated some limited assets. All was lost in divorce- one of the single most financially destructive events imaginable. At the time I had a two year associate degree, but I went back to school and worked part time at nights and made enough given prior experience and associate degree to pay for school as I went, resulting in almost no student loans when I finished. It took a long time and a lot of self discipline but I ended up with bs, ms, and phd. I got a job with the Federal government, and moved twice for promotions- once to a high cost area, and once to a low cost area. The timing of the moves was good in terms of real estate gains, and we were able to buy a modest home in a low cost area that seemed like a palace compared to what we lived in the high cost area. I refused further moves that would have taken us to high cost areas without enough compensation.

I rose relatively quickly in salary and responsibility (GS15), but we lived well below our means, saved and invested. We still have a lifestyle that we are comfortable with, and like to travel, but don't spend extravagantly. My wife (I remarried) never made much, but we deferred most of what she made, and we maxed out contributions to both of our Roth IRAs starting in 1999.

In retrospect, we would have more financial assets if we had invested more in equities, but given the late start, I could not afford to lose a lot, and did not try for home runs. I used mainly low cost index funds in the TSP and Vanguard, but we do have some individual stocks in our taxable account.

I will never regret going back to school and investing in my intangible assets. I started putting some money in 529 accounts when each grandchild (3 now) was born. Hopefully they will have an interest in getting an education.
User avatar
ray.james
Posts: 1412
Joined: Tue Jul 19, 2011 4:08 am

Re: Late starters: what age did you start investing?

Post by ray.james »

This is not a story of mine, but my parents. My dad started and worked in a business for 15 years where the net savings were zero after living expenses. Never made much profit. When he went into business at 33, he had a net worth of 250K. He came out of business at 48 with 150K cash in hand and no house/any other asset., except for 15 year old car. He went back to work for his former employer and rose up in ranks to director for a division in 3 years. To make up for lost years, he still drives his 18 year old car; yet to visit a restaurant/movie which he stopped when he was 35; continues spending only 10-15% of his salary as expenses.
Last edited by ray.james on Fri Aug 14, 2015 7:03 pm, edited 2 times in total.
When in doubt, http://www.bogleheads.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=79939
oc4boxer
Posts: 130
Joined: Tue Feb 24, 2015 9:34 pm
Location: Orange County

Re: Late starters: what age did you start investing?

Post by oc4boxer »

I only started seriously investing this year (33). I don’t feel like I’m really that badly behind though because I was always saving, so I have no debt, a fully funded emergency fund, and plenty for a down payment on a house, which I am shopping for now. So while I started later, I can throw quite a bit at my investments now.
Skiffy
Posts: 223
Joined: Tue Oct 30, 2007 2:13 pm

Re: Late starters: what age did you start investing?

Post by Skiffy »

I started a Roth when I was 43. I was the low income spouse with no retirement in my name. I had worked part-time or for nonprofits with limited benefits.

I feel we might be the last generation that will get a pension (spouse) and have encouraged our children to start saving in their 20's.
czr
Posts: 177
Joined: Wed Dec 17, 2014 8:40 pm

Re: Late starters: what age did you start investing?

Post by czr »

Most of you guys aren't 'late'. Most millennials, like myself, that I know start retirement investing with their first job in their 20s as their is some 401k match.

My aunt never saved a dime until 55. It worked out ok for her as she got some financial education and had a very good income and will collect decent SS benefits. I am guessing that most Americans that don't find this forum or have personal finance awakening or education are living paycheck to paycheck in retirement of which SS is the primary source of income. People find a way to make it work and sometimes need a kick in the pants to realize it.
mule
Posts: 326
Joined: Sun Mar 01, 2015 10:17 pm

Re: Late starters: what age did you start investing?

Post by mule »

I started in small CD when I was 19 years old. First stock market investments at 23 years old.
Garthilk
Posts: 50
Joined: Wed Oct 09, 2013 10:59 pm

Re: Late starters: what age did you start investing?

Post by Garthilk »

I started when I was around 35.

To be honest, I think I am still in denial about my cost of living when I retire whether by choice or by health. I am pretty sure it is going to be pretty scary what a change in lifestyle it is going to be. Even now, I think I'm riding too high on the hog but with two people controlling the budget it is not always easy.
User avatar
czeckers
Posts: 1049
Joined: Thu May 17, 2007 3:49 pm
Location: USA

Re: Late starters: what age did you start investing?

Post by czeckers »

I invested $100/mo when I was 21-22yo but had no clue what I was doing. Then started medical training so didn't begin again until age 33 when got first real job.

Ended up losing 90% of the money I had invested in my twenties to the Internet bubble. In the big picture it wasn't much that I lost, but it sure stung. It was the catalyst that motivated me to learn about investing.
The Espresso portfolio: | | 20% US TSM, 20% Small Value, 10% US REIT, 10% Dev Int'l, 10% EM, 10% Commodities, 20% Inter-term US Treas | | "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step."
herpfinance
Posts: 232
Joined: Tue Nov 18, 2014 4:52 pm
Location: Denmark

Re: Late starters: what age did you start investing?

Post by herpfinance »

I bought my first mutual fund shares when I was 22. A grand purchase of about $15k. It was a high-yield bond fund :P

I sat on a lot of cash until I was close to 30 (I just didn't know better), but at least they were in a high-interest savings account.

My first serious stock mutual fund purchases were made about a year ago :sharebeer
"The intelligent investor is a realist who sells to optimists and buys from pessimists" - Benjamin Graham
User avatar
randomizer
Posts: 1547
Joined: Sun Jul 06, 2014 3:46 pm

Re: Late starters: what age did you start investing?

Post by randomizer »

Bloomed late. At 36 I had lived my whole life from paycheck to paycheck, working a bunch of low-status jobs, only some of which I at least enjoyed. I'd studied a bunch, traveled a bunch, run a briefly successful small business, had no major (or minor) assets worth speaking of, effectively $0 in the bank, had over $20k of credit card debt plus a few thousand more owed to my parents. It had been a "good life" so far, but financially I was basically screwed.

Got my first ever salaried job at 36, paid off all my debt that same year. Lived relatively frugally, and was able to save up 10 or 20k. I didn't know it at the time but this was going to be my emergency fund. Got married.

At 37 learned about the Boglehead approach thanks to a friend at work. If only it had been sooner! Started contributing 20% of my take-home pay to a taxable Vanguard account.

At 39, got access to a 401(k) with a company match, so started to max that out in addition to my 20% saving goal. Got stock from my employers too, and started to dump it all into index funds.

Now I'm 40. Still trying hard to be frugal, although it's very hard now with a wife and two kids (and only one income), many expenses in an area with a very high cost of living. Even so, I've managed to get my net worth somewhere north of $300,000 in just over 4 short years.

I'd be pretty optimistic if I thought I could keep accumulating at this rate, but I admit I'm pretty scared. Every retirement calculator I've tried suggests I need some demoralizingly large quantity of money (mid-seven figures, give or take). I'm pessimistic about expected returns. I think the good ol' days may be past, and there's only so much you can expect the miracle of compound interest to produce when after-tax returns are probably going to converge towards 2%, 1%, zero...

I think that things like pensions and social security will be a thing of the past by the time I retire, and most people will end up having to work longer because they'll have to entirely self-fund their retirements, and it will get harder and harder as health care costs soar (unless perhaps technology somehow saves us). I'm assuming I'll have to work to 70, and it's not even clear that I'll be able to keep a job that long (my industry is very youth-biased; they work harder, and are cheaper too). In short, I think I may have only a few more years of strong saving capacity ahead of me, and then my earning ability could well get worse.

It seems to me that this whole retirement business is going to be a whole lot harder for my generation. There is hope yet for today's young ones; I think they have much better access to information than we did. I don't know how much my own parents will leave behind when they pass away. It's obviously not something I can count on, but it is perhaps my best hope for a "Get Out Of Jail Free" card...

All in all, I'm anxious, but I'm going to keep trying, stick to my plan, and stay the course.
87.5:12.5, EM tilt — HODL the course!
User avatar
stemikger
Posts: 4950
Joined: Thu Apr 08, 2010 5:02 am

Re: Late starters: what age did you start investing?

Post by stemikger »

I started at 30. I never really considered it starting late until I started seeing kids in their 20s. I don't regret it because my 20s was a time of care free excitement and didn't give a damn about money or anything else for that matter. At this stage of my life, I see how important it was to sew my wild oats and I was lucky enough to do it in NYC in the late 80s and early 90s. I really did burn that candle on both ends. I'm glad I lived through it and learned from it. But man was it fun.

I do feel for people who start 50 or later. I still think it is important to save because some money is better then no money, but it will be hard to make up for 20 years of not saving.

I'm 51 now and I'm satisfied with my results. No complaints.

It really is never too late as long as you are sucking wind.
Last edited by stemikger on Sun Aug 30, 2015 8:12 am, edited 2 times in total.
Choose Simplicity ~ Stay the Course!! ~ Press on Regardless!!!
User avatar
blueblock
Posts: 885
Joined: Sun Oct 19, 2014 6:06 pm
Location: Wisconsin

Re: Late starters: what age did you start investing?

Post by blueblock »

I started a bit later--at 36. I'm 63 now and have been retired for four months.

Back in my early 30s, I had worked my way through three years of university taking night classes. I had this dream of being a full-time student for my final year and worked up the nerve to do that. It was such a fantastic experience that I extended it, earning an MA spread over a couple of years while working part-time. When I finally returned to the work force full time, in 1991, I had a negative net worth of about -$13,000.

My first investment was in my new employer's 401K, just enough to get the match. Ramped that up as promotions came. I'd learned to live frugally while in school and continued that lifestyle. Salary crossed the six-figure mark in 1998 and from there on out I was socking money away like nobody's business. Although I had yet to find the bogleheads in 2008-09, I "did nothing" and never lost a wink of sleep, because my allocations were appropriate for my age and risk appetite. (My undergraduate minor was "Commerce," so I had a basic grasp of investing fundamentals, though I am by no means a sophisticated investor.) Joined the two-comma club in 2012.

I have two big nods to the bogleheads: I eventually transitioned from individual stocks to indexes, and when I rolled over my 401K, I went the three-fund route, something I'd never even heard about until three or four years ago. Very happy with that decision.
Tamales
Posts: 1490
Joined: Sat Jul 05, 2014 10:47 am

Re: Late starters: what age did you start investing?

Post by Tamales »

I think we'll start to see a sharp decline in late-starters going forward, for a couple reasons.

Number one is related to people born after the mid-1990's coming of investing age. That was about the time of the rise of the commercial internet, and the easy availability of investing information and online investment accounts and the omnipresent reminders via commercials and financial TV networks leaves little excuse for not being informed about not only the importance of investing for retirement, but investing early and often. That just didn't exist in the 80's and before.

How a person approaches their investing is a completely different question, but the level of information and ease of investing made a huge step-change in the mid 90's.

Number two, most workplaces have retirement plans these days (please correct me if I'm wrong on that). They may not be the greatest plans but they do exist. If you came of investing age in the 1980's or before, there were a lot of companies that did not even have retirement plans for employees. It was a topic seldom talked about in the workplace, and if you wanted to learn, your choice was to spend time at your local public library, and/or to buy books as a shot in the dark (there was no Amazon to preview the book or read reviews) at a local bricks-and-mortar book store.

The first company where I had a retirement account was in the early 90's (I began my first post-college real job in the early 80's, at a company offering pensions). With no retirement account for the first decade of working, and no thought of getting a financial advisor, saving to a bank account and/or CDs was about all there was. Not investing really, just saving (not that your savings rate isn't important too, but it's not investing in the normal sense of the word)

Beginning in the mid-90's, with the growing internet and the rise of CNBC, there was a point where "everybody" was trading stocks with an online account. CNBC made it seem so easy to make "fast money" in the stock market, and I distinctly remember how many people at work were now playing the market and talking about it on a daily basis.

This time period (mid-1990’s) is the first I can ever remember talking about investments with coworkers, to that point in my life. But the discussion, in retrospect, was more about gambling, not investing. During the 1990’s I don’t think I ever had a serious discussion about retirement planning, portfolios, asset allocation, or anything like that with anyone at work or friends. It was always about what stock to buy today for a short-term gain. I don't know this for a fact but I got the impression that many people minimized their 401k contributions so they'd have more take-home pay to buy individual stocks with.

It's quite different today (roughly 15-20 years later) and stock speculation discussions (at least in my circle of co-workers and friends) are mostly a thing of the past, and retirement account discussions are more the norm. Maybe the younger folks are still having the hot stock speculation discussions.
Tamales
Posts: 1490
Joined: Sat Jul 05, 2014 10:47 am

Re: Late starters: what age did you start investing?

Post by Tamales »

I think we'll start to see a sharp decline in late-starters going forward, for a couple reasons.

Number one is related to people born after the mid-1990's coming of investing age. That was about the time of the rise of the commercial internet, and the easy availability of investing information and online investment accounts and the omnipresent reminders via commercials and financial TV networks leaves little excuse for not being informed about not only the importance of investing for retirement, but investing early and often. That just didn't exist in the 80's and before.

How a person approaches their investing is a completely different question, but the level of information and ease of investing made a huge step-change in the mid 90's.

Number two, most workplaces have retirement plans these days (please correct me if I'm wrong on that). They may not be the greatest plans but they do exist. If you came of investing age in the 1980's or before, there were a lot of companies that did not even have retirement plans for employees. It was a topic seldom talked about in the workplace, and if you wanted to learn, your choice was to spend time at your local public library, and/or to buy books as a shot in the dark (there was no Amazon to preview the book or read reviews) at a local bricks-and-mortar book store.

The first company where I had a retirement account was in the early 90's (I began my first post-college real job in the early 80's, at a company offering pensions). With no retirement account for the first decade of working, and no thought of getting a financial advisor, saving to a bank account and/or CDs was about all there was. Not investing really, just saving (not that your savings rate isn't important too, but it's not investing in the normal sense of the word)

Beginning in the mid-90's, with the growing internet and the rise of CNBC, there was a point where "everybody" was trading stocks with an online account. CNBC made it seem so easy to make "fast money" in the stock market, and I distinctly remember how many people at work were now playing the market and talking about it on a daily basis.

This time period (mid-1990’s) is the first I can ever remember talking about investments with coworkers, to that point in my life. But the discussion, in retrospect, was more about gambling, not investing. During the 1990’s I don’t think I ever had a serious discussion about retirement planning, portfolios, asset allocation, or anything like that with anyone at work or friends. It was always about what stock to buy today for a short-term gain. I don't know this for a fact but I got the impression that many people minimized their 401k contributions so they'd have more take-home pay to buy individual stocks with.

It's quite different today (roughly 15-20 years later) and stock speculation discussions (at least in my circle of co-workers and friends) are mostly a thing of the past, and retirement account discussions are more the norm. Maybe the younger folks are still having the hot stock speculation discussions.
Topic Author
LateStarter1975
Posts: 682
Joined: Tue Jul 02, 2013 4:50 pm

Re: Late starters: what age did you start investing?

Post by LateStarter1975 »

stemikger wrote:I started at 30. I never really considered it starting late until I started seeing kids in their 20s. I don't regret it because my 20s was a time of care free excitement and didn't give a damn about money or anything else for that matter. At this stage of my life, I see how important it was to sew my wild oats and I was lucky enough to do it in NYC in the late 80s and early 90s. I really did burn that candle on both ends. I'm glad I lived through it and learned from it. But man was it fun.

I do feel for people who start 50 or later. I still think it is important to save because some money is better then no money, but it will be hard to make up for 20 years of not saving.

I'm 51 now and I'm satisfied with my results. No complaints.

It really is never too late as long as you are sucking wind.
+1
Debt is dangerous...simple is beautiful
User avatar
dziuniek
Posts: 1001
Joined: Mon Jul 23, 2012 2:54 pm

Re: Late starters: what age did you start investing?

Post by dziuniek »

black jack wrote:effilus (accumulating $500k in 10 years on a $50k income) is definitely the rock star in this thread but their technique (living on $900 a month) is hard to emulate for those not in a rural area: heck, my mortgage on a modest home in the DC suburbs is more than $900/month.

At the other extreme is avenger, who has saved $270k and paid off $100k in loans in "almost 3 years." Most people (even on this forum) probably don't even MAKE $370k in three years, let alone are able to set that much aside.

In both cases, though, the basic principle is the same: live below your means and invest the rest.

I had saved about $16k in an IRA(?) by the time I was 30, then quit my job and spent that money traveling, then went back to grad school. Turning 40 focused my mind; I started investing then. The good news is that I then discovered the Vanguard Diehards at Morningstar, and thus started on the right path. Since I turned 40 in 1999, my investing period has been defined in part by the crashes of 2000 and 2008, so I feel reasonably confident that my "stay the course" resolve has been tested.

We live below our means (well below, in one sense; my wife stopped working when our child was born, 13 years ago, and so if need be could go back to work to increase our household income) in a fairly high-cost area; by steady saving we've managed to accumulate around $400k over the past 15 years. I plan to retire at 68, after my daughter (presumably) graduates from college, and so have another 13 years to save, if the universe cooperates.
LateStarter1975 wrote:Thanks for all your posts. One thing I've noted is that the majority do no regret not starting earlier and some of you even think starting to invest in your 30's is not late. So what would you consider starting late? When I visualize those graphs of the two brothers that started investing at different times, one at 18 to 26 and the other from 25 to 65, it always shows that the first brother who started earlier and only invested for 8 or 9 years still had much more money at retirement.
I started investing at age 36 and I wish I started earlier for that singular reason. However, it feels refreshing to know you're making progress.
The secret to happiness is to view whatever you do (or happens to you) in a positive light. Even people who have been wrongly imprisoned for years often come out saying that it was the best thing that could have happened to them, saved them from the likely consequences of the life they were leading, etc. So those of us who started saving later in life are, if we're wise, going to rationalize it rather than regret it. I really enjoyed my travels, and being in grad school; I'm content now, and if I had lived my life in a different way, I might have lots more money now but would I be any happier? But I've also been fortunate: I have good health, a wonderful wife and child, and a job I enjoy. Sickness, death of loved ones, losing one's job - these would be much greater challenges to one's contentment than a late start on saving and a smaller retirement account.
Ha.

370k.... Household income is 50ish... So the higher earner in a household might be at 37k... So not unreasonable to say 10 years rather than 3 for average folks.
junglegirl
Posts: 16
Joined: Sun Jan 17, 2016 5:50 pm

Re: Late starters: what age did you start investing?

Post by junglegirl »

Age 25 in a taxable account, since at the time I was not eligible to make contributions to a tax-advantaged account.
Topic Author
LateStarter1975
Posts: 682
Joined: Tue Jul 02, 2013 4:50 pm

Re: Late starters: what age did you start investing?

Post by LateStarter1975 »

junglegirl wrote:Age 25 in a taxable account, since at the time I was not eligible to make contributions to a tax-advantaged account.
Technically, this will be called an early starter. Congratulations for your vision. Keep it up!
Debt is dangerous...simple is beautiful
User avatar
mickeyd
Posts: 4841
Joined: Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:19 pm
Location: Deep in the Heart of South Texas

Re: Late starters: what age did you start investing?

Post by mickeyd »

It depends what you mean by "investing".

When I was age 6-7 I saved up my scrounged cash and when the total hit $18.75 I gave it to Mom and she "invested it" for me in a $25 US Savings Bond. I repeated this many times. Later I discovered that World Savings paid 5.5%, so I cashed them all in and moved my cash to CA.

Did not discover stocks until mid 20s after returning from Vietnam with a bulging bank account. I've been all in ever since. :moneybag
Part-Owner of Texas | | “The CMH-the Cost Matters Hypothesis -is all that is needed to explain why indexing must and will work… Yes, it is that simple.” John C. Bogle
junglegirl
Posts: 16
Joined: Sun Jan 17, 2016 5:50 pm

Re: Late starters: what age did you start investing?

Post by junglegirl »

LateStarter1975 wrote:
junglegirl wrote:Age 25 in a taxable account, since at the time I was not eligible to make contributions to a tax-advantaged account.
Technically, this will be called an early starter. Congratulations for your vision. Keep it up!
Yes sorry - jumped the gun by responding too quickly. :) I guess I consider myself a late starter when I compare myself to a lot of the Bogleheads! Still have student loans to get rid of.

Thank you!
Topic Author
LateStarter1975
Posts: 682
Joined: Tue Jul 02, 2013 4:50 pm

Re: Late starters: what age did you start investing?

Post by LateStarter1975 »

junglegirl wrote:
LateStarter1975 wrote:
junglegirl wrote:Age 25 in a taxable account, since at the time I was not eligible to make contributions to a tax-advantaged account.
Technically, this will be called an early starter. Congratulations for your vision. Keep it up!
Yes sorry - jumped the gun by responding too quickly. :) I guess I consider myself a late starter when I compare myself to a lot of the Bogleheads! Still have student loans to get rid of.

Thank you!
Many bogleheads qualify to be called outliers to the general population when it comes to investing and savings. Having said that, even among this group, starting to invest at age 25 would still meet that qualification of an early starter. Don't worry, you're already focused, so your student loans will be paid off in no time. Keep trudging on...
Debt is dangerous...simple is beautiful
Alex Frakt
Founder
Posts: 11098
Joined: Fri Feb 23, 2007 1:06 pm
Location: Chicago
Contact:

Re: Late starters: what age did you start investing?

Post by Alex Frakt »

Locked, non-personal, non-actionable. This was a restart of an old thread that no longer qualifies as on-topic.
Locked