Piggy Bank Award: TIAA-CREF success

The Marketplace Money Piggy Awards.

Tess Vigeland: And finally to this week's Marketplace Money Piggy Award. Our little blue plastic friend is heading to Fort Collins, Colo., and a listener named Harlan. He wrote to us this week with a lesson that we try to emphasize over and over on this program. We figured you might be sick of hearing U.S. yammer on about it. So we asked him to tell you himself. And it worked: Harlan is 64 and retired. But we're pretty sure he's still a good saver. So off with you, little pig. Take a sweater for the winter. 'Cause it'll come faster than you can imagine.


Harlan: Hi, this is Harlan, from Fort Collins, Colo. This really is an affirmation of the importance of leaving 401(k) savings, or similar, intact. In 1978, I changed jobs, wanted to raid my TIAA-CREF account and about $10,000. I learned I would have penalties, so forth. I left it intact. Thirty years later, it has grown to nearly $350,000. I always kept it in the common stock bond, earnings were reinvested. Impossible to tell the future, but clearly time compounding can lead to excellent returns. Had I access to the $10,000 I'm sure I would have spent it up with current desires. Instead, it grew remarkably with no direction by me. Try not to disturb your retirement money -- years will pass better than you can ever imagine.

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