Delaying Savings

No one wakes up in the morning and thinks, “I must start my pension planning today.”  I’ve not even done that, and it’s my job! Perhaps if someone had pointed out to me 15 years ago what the impact this thought process may have had on my own financial future, I may have listened and (may have) done something about it.

Let’s consider the rather simple examples of two people who joined the yachting industry at the same time, with similar careers, but different saving scenarios.

Scenario 1: James took his first job as a deckhand at the age of 23, earning €2,000 per month. His income went up by a healthy five percent each year, every year until he left yachting at 45 with a final salary of €7,300 per month.

From the very start of his career, James invested 25 percent of his salary every year. This means that by the end of his yachting career, he had earned a total income of €1.25 million and had put aside €310,000. He had managed to achieve an average annual growth rate of five percent on his invested money, which meant his savings pot was now worth €495,000. If he leaves this to grow for another 15 years before using it as a pension scheme, he will retire at 60 with a fund of just over €1 million — a very healthy fund.

Scenario 2: John had a very similar career, but only started saving 25 percent of his salary after being in the industry for 10 years. Even though he still had earned €1.25 million over his career, he only had put away €225,000, which, with the same growth as James, was now worth €290,000 due to the lesser amount of time to compound the growth. Leaving this amount to grow for another 15 years would give John a pension fund of €600,000 — quite a bit shy of James’s healthy fund.

In the real world, yachting salaries rarely grow in a straight line, but this simple example shows how delaying the start of a long-term savings program has a massive effect on your long term wealth and control. In order to retire with the same fund as James, John would have to save approximately €1,500 per month, every month from when he leaves yachting. If he is now working on shore, this could be difficult to achieve as costs normally not associated while aboard will now be added, such as rent, food and every day expenses.

It’s interesting to note that James still actually spent more than €930,000 over his 23 years in yachting, which is an average of €3,400 per month for that period. Are there many yacht crew who actually spend this much on living costs, and if not, could he have saved even more for his long-term future? The answer is obvious.