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Compounding is earning "interest on interest," where your original savings generate a return that creates more money. Staying invested and contributing regularly can significantly increase your assets over time as your savings grow and the effect accelerates—a powerful force in a long-term savings strategy.

Stuart Ritter, CFP®, a senior financial planner with T. Rowe Price, explains the concept this way: "Imagine you have a barren field—and one day sow some plants. Each of them will generate seeds that then grow into new plants, which will also start generating seeds. Over time, assuming a positive rate of growth, your field will become more rapidly covered in plants from the new seeds instead of from your original planting."

The sooner you begin to invest, the more you can benefit from compounding. Even if you start with small contributions, your savings will begin to potentially generate returns that will seed your nest egg. Waiting could have consequences—if unexpected events, such as a medical emergency or an unplanned period of unemployment, force you to interrupt or reduce your savings plan, you'll have to increase your contributions to an even higher rate. "The longer you wait to start," Ritter says, "the more money you will have to save once you begin in order to achieve to the same goal."

As an investor, your ultimate goal is to grow your balance to the extent needed to reach your objectives. One path to increasing value is to implement an automatic investing strategy, whereby you invest at regularly scheduled intervals. Automatic investing helps to prevent lapses in your investment plan due to events such as short-term market developments or personal circumstances. Of course, automatic investing cannot assure a profit. Since such a plan involves continuous investment regardless of fluctuating price levels, investors should consider their financial ability to continue purchases through periods of both high and low price levels.

One important step you can take is to talk to your children about money early in their lives. Impress upon them how valuable and advantageous it is to start investing while they're young. They'll be able to reach their most important financial goal—having enough saved for a comfortable retirement many decades in their future—much more easily. A Roth IRA may be the best savings vehicle to help them because qualified withdrawals after a lifetime of saving and investing will be tax-free. Says Ritter, "Getting a young person started with just $100 from each paycheck will provide a significant jump-start on potential compounded savings growth." BHS

Teach Your Children About Saving

Judith Ward, CFP®, a senior financial planner with T. Rowe Price, sat down with her 22-year-old son, Justin, a recent college graduate. Her goal: convince him to open and contribute to a Roth IRA so that he gets a strong financial start in life.

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1 Taking the time to review important accounts can help maintain your overall financial strategy.
2 Christine Fahlund, CFP®, a senior financial planner with T. Rowe Price, explains the role probate can play in your estate plan.
3Larry Puglia, portfolio manager of the T. Rowe Price Blue Chip Growth Fund.
4A blended portfolio for income and growth.
5Starting to save early with a 529 plan can help bring the cost of college within reach.
6 Contributing regularly and staying invested increases the growth potential of your assets over time.
7One of your biggest decisions is determining when and how to begin collecting your benefits.
8T. Rowe Price Connections; The T. Rowe Price Program for Charitable Giving; and more.
9Giving to causes that are important to you can be a rewarding part of your personal and financial life.
10An increasing number of companies are developing a long-term strategic view of the environmental impact of their products.
11Growing Opportunities in Developed and Emerging Markets.
12Six Steps to Help You Achieve Your