As the years pass, regrets loom larger. And older women are especially likely to feel remorse about one financial mistake.
More than one-third of older women — 36% — say not saving more for retirement early in life is among their biggest financial mistakes, according to new findings from Fidelity Investments. The study defined this group as women age 36 or older.
Fortunately, today’s younger women appear to be learning from such errors. On average, women who are currently ages 18 to 35 began investing in a brokerage account when they were 21, Fidelity says.
By contrast, for women who are currently 36 and older and began investing in the same age frame, the average age of first investment was 30.
While that nine-year gap might not seem especially large, it actually represents a chasm. As Fidelity explains, waiting until later in life to invest robs you of the ability to see your gains compound over time:
“For instance, compare a person starting to invest at age 25 to a person starting at age 40. With each person contributing $50 per month, by age 67, the person who started earlier will have accumulated approximately $144,000 compared to the person starting 15 years later with $46,000, assuming a hypothetical 7% annual rate of return.”
Fidelity notes that today’s younger women are especially likely to “invest with purpose.” By 43% to 34%, younger women are more likely than older women to say that they are proud of using their investments to create a better future, such as achieving important family goals or leaving a legacy for children.
The Fidelity study was based on a national online survey of 2,015 adults who are 18 years of age and older and who own a listed investment account other than a checking or savings account.
For more on women and retirement, check out “5 Ways Retirement Planning Is Different for Women.”