$15.07 today or thousands later in retirement? A Time vs. Money exercise

In terms of retirement, does $15.07 sound like a lot of money?

Of course not. Unless you tweak your line of thinking.

We’ll get to the math in a moment, but just think about this for a second. For the price of a decent lunch today, you can buy yourself total freedom from the workforce later in life. Retirement may be far off for you, or simply tough to fathom in general, but it’s true: A measly $15.07 each day is all it takes to gain financial freedom into your retirement years.

Would you be willing to make that tradeoff?

In essence, this is a question of Time vs. Money. How much is your money worth to you right now? Would it be better spent spending joyful time with loved ones and friends?

Or at the office, buying nice lunches? Or paying off the credit card debt you racked up paying for the more expensive pair of shoes?

If time doing whatever the heck you please with whomever you please is worth it to you, then start socking away your $15.07 a day right now. If, instead, spending that $15 (and seven cents!) on something that will keep you in the workforce will bring you the most happiness, then so be it.

Putting just 15 bucks into a tax-advantaged retirement account each day would provide the financial security necessary to retire comfortably — not to mention prove to yourself and those closest to you that you really are a Nest Egg Ninja!

Most aren’t willing to trade money today for more time later

Even such a small amount of money, in fact. Unfortunately, this seemingly low number is one that very few Americans manage to hit in terms of savings. How do we know?

Because the fact of the matter is that a whopping 78% of all Americans report that they are currently living paycheck to paycheck. More than two-thirds of all the people you meet here in this country would be totally screwed if a major financial crisis were to strike between pay periods.

These are people will families that rely on them, and not all of them are dealing with low-paying jobs either. Sincerely, this is not to belittle anyone out there or to pretend that because I save money that I am better than anyone else.

It’s just a plain scary fact.

The (hilariously simple) math

Fifteen (and again, let’s not forget the seven cents!) multiplied by 365 equals $5,500.

Coincidentally enough, that is exactly the same as the maximum dollar figure you are allowed to contribute to an Individual Retirement Account in any given year.

[Check out the finer points of what exactly an IRA is right here!]

… As you might imagine, the number $15.07 was not at all coincidental, of course.

Any money invested in a Roth IRA can be removed completely tax-free after age 59.5.

If you start at age 23, that is 36.5 years until you can yank that cash out completely without penalty and without having to fork a chunk of it over to Uncle Sam. By choosing to invest just $15.07 each day in a low-cost index fund and generate a 7% annualized return, you will have a whopping $875,241.88 once you celebrate your half-birthday at the age of 59.

Oh, you don’t celebrate half-birthdays? Well I bet if you all of a sudden were able to play with nearly 900 grand you’d have no problem popping some bubbly!

[Don’t miss: What is the difference between a Roth and a Traditional retirement account?]

But budgeting out money for savings is hard!

  • Find areas where you can trim your spending

Yes, you can order a pizza from a place like Papa John’s or Domino’s for something like eight bucks. However, after tax, delivery charges and a tip for the driver, you’re looking at those $15.07 right there.

Maybe make a dinner with leftovers instead?

If you need a quick-and-dirty list of ways to quickly make spending cuts for future savings, we have compiled a list for your reference. Remember, it doesn’t have to be all about cutting and sacrifice and all that.

  • Can you sell something you no longer use?

Do you have some random items that could earn you some extra cash on Craigslist? Do a spring cleaning and put that money to tax-advantaged work literally right now! Time IN the market is much more important than timing the market.

  • Ask for a raise!

Maybe you are being underpaid in your current place of employment. If you take the time to study the market, put together a proposal, and work with your boss on a $5,500 pay bump, then you have taken care of your retirement savings in one fell swoop. Of course, that is if you allocate your new income to your IRA in the first place.

Beware inflating your lifestyle. Don’t spend that new money on material items you didn’t need beforehand that you might be telling yourself you can afford now.

The main thing I hope you take away from this post is that there are a lot of ways to skin a cat. Retirement saving can be a scary thought, and it is certainly a massive endeavor.

However, with a little intention, you can set aside $15.07 a day for your future self.

You can spend less money.

You can make more money.

You can invest the difference.

It’s just that simple.


Check out the ongoing, full retirement ladder here:

Step 0: Create a budget that helps you get wealthy

Step 1: Why building an emergency fund is so important for your nest egg

Step 1.5: What type of account is best for your emergency fund?

Step 2: Contribute to your 401(k) up to the company match

Step 2.5: How should I pick the best 401(k) investments for me?

Step 3: Pay off all high-interest debt as aggressively as possible



  1. themoneysprout said:

    Love these types of articles that break down how little money it actually takes to make a difference! Thanks for the motivation.

    September 19, 2017
    • NestEggNinja said:

      It’s my pleasure! I see it as simply one of those “Journey of a 1,000 steps” things. Finishing may be tough, but you’ll never get there if you can’t get motivated to get started! Breaking things down into manageable chunks be as motivating for others as it is for you and I.

      September 19, 2017

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