It sure is an eye-opener to see what spending less now can do to your bottom line later on down the road. Opt for a cheaper car, and you may be able to retire earlier than you had planned. Shell out less on nights out with pals, and you can have that rainy-day fund you've been meaning to set up. Easy to say, hard to commit to, I know. But these facts should get you motivated. If you're saving for a short-term goal, such as a home down payment or an emergency fund, you want your money to be super safe. That means a money market or savings account, CD, or T-bill. Currently, you can earn about a 5 percent annual rate of return. That may not sound like much, but here's how it will add up:
Save $100 a month, and you'll have $6,829 in five years.
Save $250 a month, and you'll have $17,072 in five years.
Save $1,000 a month, and you'll have $68,289 in five years.
For longer-term goals, such as retirement, your money belongs in stocks or mutual funds, which offer the best odds for growth over time. (Remember, you won't touch the money for another 10, 20, or 30 years.) An 8 percent average annualized gain is a reasonable expectation. This is how it will grow:
Save $100 a month, and you'll have $59,295 in 20 years and $150,030 in 30 years.
Save $250 a month, and you'll have $148,237 in 20 years and $375,074 in 30 years.
Save $1,000 a month, and you'll have $592,947 in 20 years and $1.5 million in 30 years.