WEEK OF Compound Interest

Everyone has been telling me lately to make more regular contributions to my IRA. I’m twenty-five, and it’s hard for me to remember I even have a retirement account, let alone to make contributions. Then follows the inevitable lecture on the life-changing magic of compound interest.

Compound interest, in more general terms, reminds us of the value of time and how it acts in unexpected ways. The more time you let pass, the more benefits you’ll see manifest. It is an easy lesson oh how, in life, planning well and putting a little in regularly will pay off way more than waiting until the last second to go all-in. This applies to studying for exams, getting that rockin' beach bod, and adding to your savings account.

Of course, compound interest can act against you in potentially life-altering ways, as well. That seemingly innocent cigarette a day will literally add up to lost years of life. 

This is the name of the game in startup land. Sometimes your investment (of capital or of your time) can pay off greatly. An initial time investment to do things the right way upfront can lead to far greater returns down the line. Other times, however, things might suddenly take a final turn for the worse. That one little fix you kept putting off can exacerbate and grow into a whole other kind of monster.

Every startup is a risk, whether you’re an investor or employee. But the potential for a great return, for that compound interest, keeps us all playing the game. 

Catch up on the latest Talos Insight: Emma investigates browser cookies and Nicole argues against Elon Musk’s self-driving cars.

Currently reading: Fractured Lands: How the Arab World Came Apart,” a brilliant product of 18 months’ reporting from the New York Times.

Currently watching: All the Orphan Black. Damn that girl can act.

Currently listening to: Capsize” by Frenship

Brandon’s new gadget this week: Riind, “the pen that rewrites them all.”