When is it a good time to invest?


When is it a good time to invest?


This is an often asked and loaded question, a bit like asking how long is a piece of string, and the answer is “it depends….”  It depends on a lot of factors including what your future goals and investment objectives are. Without delving into specifics there are a couple of principles worth exploring.

The first principle is saving today in order to spend tomorrow. We’ve all heard phases such as “saving for retirement” or “saving for a rainy day”, in other words saving now to spend later. In order to save, we need to spend less than we earn. For many of us this is easier said than done. There are always temptations in front of us. We often prefer to buy things that make us feel good now such as the latest mobile phone, the overseas trip or a flash new car rather than the things we need.  We also struggle to find money to put aside and invest for tomorrow partly because we don’t get any instant gratification from doing so. This is a topic for another day!

We also live in a world where borrowing money is relatively cheap and we’ve become much more comfortable with taking on significant debt not only to buy houses but to also buy those big ticket items we want now. Just remember no matter how cheap it is to borrow, we still have to pay it back.

There will be a time when we stop working and need to rely on our savings to fund our lifestyle. The more we are able to save in the years we are employed and earning an income, the more money we will have to enjoy when we stop working. Naturally we want our hard earned savings to work for us so it’s worth more tomorrow than it is today.

This leads us to the second principle, the power of compounding investment returns. With compounding investment returns, you not only receive investment earnings on your original sum invested, you also receive investment earnings on the earnings you’ve accumulated. A simple example will explain this. If you have $100,000 to invest and you earn 6% per annum after tax and fees, you earn $6,000 in the first year. In year two, you have $106,000 invested and if you earn the same 6%, it accumulates to $112,360. Your investment earnings were $6,000 in the first year and then $6,360 in the second year. The additional $360 represents the earnings on the investment earnings from year 1. Over a longer time-frame this can make a significant difference as the table below illustrates.

In each of the 3 scenarios below, the assumed rate of return is 6%* per annum after tax and all fees and expenses. The difference in each scenario is the investing time-frame and the regular monthly contributions (i.e. savings)

Scenario Number of Years investing Annual




Total amount invested Total investment earnings Total amount accumulated
1 Start at age 30 35 6% $1,000 $420,000 $1,004,710 $1,424,710
2 Start at age 40 25 6% $2,000 $600,000 $   785,988 $1,385,988
3 Start at age 50 15 6% $4,000 $720,000 $   443,275 $1,163,275

If you start at the age of 30 and invest $1,000 per month you will have accumulated more than $1.42 million by the age of 65. In this scenario you will have contributed $420,000 and accumulated more than $1 million in investment earnings.

If you delay starting to save until age 40 but double the savings commitment to $2,000 per month, you will have accumulated just over $1.38 million by the age of 65. This is less than the first scenario despite your total monthly contributions being $180,000 greater. Your investing time-frame is 10 years shorter than in the first scenario so the effect of compounding returns isn’t as great, demonstrated by the accumulated investment earnings of around $786,000.

If you further delay saving until age 50 but significantly increase your monthly commitment to $4,000, you will have accumulated just over $1.16 million at age 65, significantly less than in the first two scenarios despite contributing $300,000 more than in the first scenario. And because your investment time frame is just 15 years, the power of compounding returns is significantly diminished at just over $443,000.

As illustrated, starting early and remaining invested for a long time can provide the best results.  It is never too early (or too late) to start. The main thing is to start. If you’d like to talk to us about how we can help you, call us on 0800 757 858 or go to our contact page and send us a message.

* The assumed rate of investment return is for illustration purposes only and is not based on any specific investment strategy. Furthermore actual returns experienced by investors will vary from year to year depending on a number of factors including variations to asset allocation, exchange rates and transaction costs. Past returns do not tell you how investment strategies will perform in the future.