Balancing Priorities

Most wish they'd listened to Mom and Dad about money

Key Points
  • Many regret not saving sooner.
  • Teach good savings habits to your kids.
  • It's never too late to get started.

It's not too late to act on money advice from Mom and Dad.

Six in 10 adults say they'd be wealthier today if they had listened to their parents, according to a survey from, which polled 2,000 adults in January. The big miss: 85 percent said they wished they had started saving money from an earlier age, as their parents recommended.

Instilling a regular savings habit early is sound advice. Early birds are poised to take full advantage of the power of compounding, said Geoffrey Sanzenbacher, a research economist at the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College.

"The easiest way to think about it is with compounding, the money you save earlier is worth more than the money you save later," he said.

Millennial money moves

The longer you wait, the less time your savings have to grow, meaning you'll need to set aside more to hit the same target.

For example, reports from the Center for Retirement Research estimate that 25-year-old workers who hope to retire at age 62 would need to save 15 percent per year to adequately replace their income in retirement. Start at age 35, and required savings jump to 24 percent per year to meet that same goal — or save 15 percent but delay retirement to age 65.

Putting aside money early can also provide flexibility. You'll have more leeway to meet goals even in the face of unexpected problems like a market downturn, job loss or illness, said certified financial planner Evelyn Zohlen, president of Inspired Financial in Huntington Beach, California.

"The earlier you start saving, the greater protection you have from forces beyond your control," she said.

Getting into the habit of saving at a younger age can have a broader financial impact, too. That behavior becomes the model of how you prepare for any financial decision, Zohlen said.

"It creates an example for your family to follow: This how we come up with money for things," she said.

That might mean in time, you're more likely to be among those families who have an adequate emergency fund, rather than those struggling with credit card debt.

If bad savings habits are among your regrets, stop procrastinating.

"It is absolutely never, ever too late to get on track," Zohlen said.