You know you want to tear out that old deck and re-landscape your back yard. You've put off doing so for the past three years, though, and it looks like you're going to put it off again. That's four years. It probably doesn't sound like that long, right? But what if I said... that's 4.72% of your life? Egad!

I hadn't thought of time quite this way until I read a blog post by David Pennock, in which  he pointed out that a year is more than 1% of a life for most of us. (I'm using 85 as a general life expectancy here.) With a life of 85 years, one year is about 1.2%.

The benefits of early investing
This has some major implications for us as investors. I think back to when I first learned about 401(k) and 403(b) plans, and began saving and investing some of my salary. I was nearly 30 years old. I wish I'd known about it all at least five years earlier -- then I wouldn't have lost a (likely) full 6% of my investing life. Worse still, those lost years would have been my earliest years, when our investing dollars have the most potential. Assuming I retire at 65, those dollars would have had nearly 40 years to compound, instead of roughly 35. (And believe me, just a year or two can make a big difference in your ultimate results.)

Are you putting off moving money from a savings account or CD into your brokerage account? (Need a good brokerage?) Don't delay, or you'll see a sizable chunk of your life go by.

The power of mutual funds
Have you been meaning to invest for retirement in a solid mutual fund? Perhaps one like the Meridian Value (FUND: MVALX) fund, with its market-beating five- and 10-year annual average returns of about 14%? If not, you're losing out on the chance to let its holdings, which recently included Verizon (NYSE: VZ), Western Digital (NYSE: WDC), Anheuser-Busch (NYSE: BUD), and Avon (NYSE: AVP), perform for you over many years.

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Longtime Fool contributor Selena Maranjian does not own shares of any companies mentioned in this article. Anheuser-Busch is a Motley Fool Inside Value recommendation. Try our investing services free for 30 days. The Motley Fool is Fools writing for Fools.