By Juggie Govender East Coast Financial Services (Pty) Ltd LIFE in your twenties is generally filled with adventure and a sense of reckless abandon as you’ve been set free from the shackles of school life and are now paying your own way. The freedom that a regular income brings can be intoxicating and many young people choose a life of care-free spending.Few 20-somethings therefore give a thought to saving even just a small amount each month toward their retirement and other financial goals. It’s understandable given their circumstances, but if more young people adopted a basic approach to saving earlier in life they would set themselves up for a very comfortable future.This is largely due to the power of compound interest, which means a little saved over a long time can deliver big returns. Take, for example, someone who invests R10 000-00 at the age of 25 in a unit trust account paying 16.8% compound interest annually with Company A. Twenty five years later that amount would have grown to R485 366-00.By contrast, if that person invested the same amount at the same interest rate at the age of 35, it would only have grown to R102 717-05 by the time they reached the age of 50. If the client invested the same amount with Company B, with a return of 14.1%, the returns would have been R270 483-00, 25 years later and R72 324-35 if he invested for a 15 year period. These two investments are with the balanced fund and ideal for long term investors and are not guaranteed. Granted, most 20-somethings don’t have a lump sum to invest into a retirement savings plan, but it is a simple example that illustrates that the longer you allow compound interest to work, the more money it will make for you. With that in mind, a small monthly contribution of just a few hundred rand invested each month from the day you start earning an income would be the best place to start. Obviously the smaller the amount with which you start, the longer you need to leave it invested to accumulate significant interest, but the basic principle applies.Low minimum Choose a savings plan that has a low monthly minimum contribution, but one that stops you from accessing your money immediately. This will ensure you don’t give in to life’s temptations, of which there can be many in your twenties, and withdraw the funds.Avoid unnecessary risk While conventional investing advice would advocate investing in higher risk funds and investments when you’re young and therefore have a longer investment horizon, it is always best to avoid unnecessary risk when it comes to investing for retirement. Start investing in a stable fund that offers solid returns, and when you start earning more money or choose to invest more, start a discretionary investment fund that can be used for riskier options that yield higher returns.Starting early Investing in this manner in your twenties will also help develop good savings and retirement planning habits early on, which will prove invaluable as life’s expenses and financial commitments grow in unison with your monthly income the older you get. In fact, starting early is ideal as you tend to have more expendable income available, before family commitments and mortgage repayments start to bite into your monthly budget. In this instance, saving becomes more about “not spending” than finding the money to actually invest. Starting early will also ensure that you have more time at your disposal to correct any financial mistakes or shortfalls that occur.The fact of the matter is that by missing the opportunity to start investing early on in life when you have the means and ability to do so comfortably, you’ll merely be holding back the potential of your retirement investments in the long run. This article is an excerpt from Fin24 by Walter Van Der Merwe. You could contact me on 083 399 3905, my office on 032-944 3051 or e-mail me on email@example.com for an appointment or further information and any other financial advice. Disclaimer The information is only intended to be of a general nature and should not be relied upon by any part without obtaining full details from a licenced financial service provider.