The Best Time
The Dollar Stretcher Blog
by Gary Foreman

Saw an interesting phrase last week. It was supposedly ancient Chinese wisdom. Went something like this. "The best time to plant a tree is ten years ago. The next best time to plant a tree is today."

The more you think about it, the truer it is. If you wanted shade or an apple today it would have been good to have planted a tree ten years ago.

What does eating an apple in the shade have to do with personal finance? Good question! Let's ponder some of the answers.

Retirement is a great example. The best time to start saving for your retirement was years ago. Maybe many more than ten years ago depending on how old you are. And maybe you didn't start putting money away in a pension plan, IRA or 401k way back when. So you can whine about not having any savings now or you can plant your tree today.

Paying off debts is another one. I should have started paying down those credit card balances back when I got that raise. Or when I had that stretch of overtime. But I didn't. So now I owe just as much as I did back then. Probably too late to do anything about it. Guess I could give up and just plan on being in debt the rest of my life. Then again, maybe if I start today it won't be too long before I've made a dent in those balances. Might even get them paid off in the next few years.

What about taking that course to improve your job skills? Or cleaning out that closet or garage? Or taking that cooking course so you don't visit restaurants so often?

Wouldn't be surprised if you come up with a whole list of similar ideas that apply specifically to you and your family.

So don't moan that you didn't start when you should have. So you didn't plant the tree ten years ago. That can't be changed. But you can plant the tree today. And have the joy of watching it grow over the next ten years!

Keep on Stretching those Dollars!

Gary Foreman is the editor of The Dollar website <> and newsletters <>. Not only does the site host thousands of articles on various ways to save money, but you'll also find a vibrant forum where people share their dollar stretching ideas. Comment on this entry here < >.