Sometimes, we all need a kick in the pants to make us do something we know we should do but haven't done yet. If you've been meaning to start saving and investing in earnest, but you keep putting it off, permit me to offer the kick. Or just consider this mailing I received from Fidelity Investments -- which, by the way, shares a spot in our Broker Center with some other top-notch brokerages, such as ShareBuilder, TD Ameritrade (NASDAQ:AMTD), and E*Trade (NYSE:ET).

The mailing focused on a chart showing the results of two different investors, Robin and Wendy. Let me summarize.

  • Wendy started saving at 40 and continued until age 65. She contributed $4,000 annually, for a total of $100,000. She earned 7% annually and reinvested dividends and capital-gains distributions.
  • Robin started saving at age 25 and contributed $4,000 annually for just 10 years, for a total of $40,000. She also earned 7% annually and reinvested dividends and capital-gains distributions.

Before I reveal the results, note that Wendy saved and invested more than twice the amount that Robin did -- $100,000 versus $40,000. Note also that Wendy did so over 25 years, while Robin was actively saving and investing for just 10 years. You might think that Wendy should end up with more. But you'd be wrong.

By age 65, Wendy had an ending balance of $271,000. And Robin? Well, hers was . get ready . $450,000!

The secret is time. The longer you delay, the less time your money can grow.

The obvious lesson here: Don't put off tending to your financial garden.

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Longtime Fool contributor Selena Maranjian does not own shares of any companies mentioned in this article.