A lot has been written this week about a very over-rated breakfast meal. I mean, you’re welcome to your avocado however you want it, but man have people got themselves excited over overpriced morning sustenance.

Now, I have to say, I’m a fan of the classics, myself. I’ve never really moved on to the doppio macchiato or soy decaf latte, and have stuck with the humble cappuccino. And if I’m going to eat out for brekky, I reckon scrambled eggs is hard to beat.

Save your derision, cool, funky people, I’m not saying you have to do it — just that it’s my choice. Trust me when I say that if you had to choose between my music taste, fashion sense and breakfast choices, you’d happily take the latter.

Now, the battle of the breakfast came about because a demographer, with the appropriately culinary name of Bernard Salt, suggested that maybe young people should lay off the ‘smashed avo’ (the old man in me wants to know why everything, even potatoes, is ‘smashed’ these days, but that’s a topic for another article) in favour of putting some of that hard-earned towards a house instead. He was particularly targeting Millenials, who, if social media is to be believed, like to blame the Baby Boomers for most things, but specifically making housing unaffordable.

I have no dog in that particular fight. I’m of the generation so uninspiring that all we warranted was a single, boring X.

Forced to take a view, I’d suggest that housing is unaffordably high, but also that many younger people are choosing lifestyle over savings. I know, there’s no headline value — or social media shock value — in a considered, ‘it’s complicated’ answer, but there you go.

Here’s what I do know, about both Millenials and Generation X, though. Time is slipping through their fingers. Yes, that’s the voice of regret speaking, but hopefully also the voice of opportunity.

You see, those generations have an opportunity that not even the greatest investors have. They are in the sweetest of sweet spots. A 25 year old Millenial has at least 42 years before they’re eligible for the pension. If they can save just $60 per week between now and their 40th birthday — then not a cent more after that — they’d have well over $1.3 million by the time they retired, assuming they could earn 10% on their money. That’s $60,000 turning into seven figures — the miracle of compounding.

Compare that to a 52-year-old Boomer. If she puts away the same weekly amount between now and retirement, she’ll have only $100,000 at retirement.

Of course, the Millenial doesn’t have to stop there. If she saves $60 each week between now and retirement, she’ll end up with a cool $1.75 million. Increase that amount every time she gets a pay rise, for example, and that’ll rise to over $2 million by retirement.

We Gen Xers don’t have quite the same opportunity as the Millenials — we have a few more miles on the clock, by now — but the maths is still stunning. Time might well march on, but if we put some of our cash in its saddlebags early on, it can truly add up, over time.

Don’t leave it to ‘Future Me’

The hardest part? Retirement just seems such a long way away. And we can deal with that another day. Or, as a Millenial colleague of mine is wont to say, ‘That’s Future Me’s problem’.

I get it. That was me, too. (Yes, stop sniggering, I was young once.) It’s hard even for the most sensible Millenials and Xs, including the Millenial who lives in my house. He gets it, intellectually, but it’s just hard to deny the ‘now’ for a future that is unimaginably far away.

And yet, dear reader, I need you to imagine it. Because you have a life ahead of you, and the one resource not even the best investor or business person can create — time. It’s hard to imagine Future You. And even when you do, it’s hard to go without, today, so that Future You will be more prosperous.

But trust me — cappuccino-drinking, fashion-clueless, but mathematically-minded, me – when I say that Future You will thank you.

I know, from some of the readership data that I’ve seen, that plenty of Millenials and Gen Xers read what I write. I also know that many fewer of you end up joining the investment service I run. Because, while you’re interested, it’s just something that most of us happily leave for Future You to worry about.

Foolish takeaway

I don’t mind if you don’t join my service. This isn’t about that. It’s just an appeal, from someone who’s been where you are, to ask you to take action.

Start. Please.

Future You will be glad you took the time to smell the roses. And Future You won’t begrudge you your smashed avo on toast for brekky tomorrow. But Future You will praise you long and loud for starting your investing journey, today.

 

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Scott Phillips is the Motley Fool’s director of research. You can follow Scott on Twitter @TMFScottPThe Motley Fool's purpose is to educate, amuse and enrich investors. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691).