As I was viewing my 401(k) balance the other day, I began to realize that retirement funds or other long-term savings accounts are very much like fitness. You can work and work at it and still feel like you're not getting anywhere when viewed on a daily basis, but it's the long haul that counts.
With working out, I come home thinking that I MUST be buff by now. But when I look in the mirror, I don't look much different, if at all, from yesterday. How could that be? I've been sweating, my muscles ache? Why haven't I dropped a size yet. Why is the scale still showing me that horrible number?
With saving, I look at my balance and think, I must have a sizable chunk saved up by now. But when I view my account, it doesn't look much different, if at all, from last month. Why is my balance not huge by now. What has happened to all the money that's been deposited directly from my paycheck?
I've finally concluded that these two processes are very much the same. If we look at our bodies or our balances on a day-to-day basis and make comparisons, we won't see much that's changed. However, if we look at ourselves or our accounts at the beginning of the year, do our work during the year, and then look again at the end of the year - that's when we see the real progress.
The secret to savvy workouts or savvy saving is to do it with purpose, but give it time to take shape. Then, after a good amount of time has passed, check again. That's when things should be looking pretty good.
So, I'll continue to just buck up, save up, and work out.