The Hawk and the Mouse - Saving for Retirement

There once was a hawk, ferocious and swift. He was young and agile with many years of life to hunt the open ranch lands. In a nearby field, a mouse scurried about the ground. The hawk saw the hurried motion and swept speedily toward the rodent.

Just as the hawk's shadow engulfed the smaller rodent, the mouse fell to its back and begged, "Please, Mr. Hawk, spare me my life!" This surprised the hunter and he landed beside the mouse.

"Why should I spare your life? I am hungry today."

"It's always about today, isn't it?" answered the mouse. "Do you ever think about tomorrow?"

"Tomorrow? Well, that's just another day to flap my wings. I will eat then, too."

The mouse scratched his chin and replied, "But one day you will be old and gray. You will have chiseled claws. You should prepare for the future now or starve later."

"I do, I do. I am building a grand nest as we speak. You see, I fly low to the highway's hot pavement in search of lost dollar bills everyday. I find a dollar a day and add it to my nest. I am constantly constructing my nest egg."

The proud hawk looked toward the mouse for a reply. The mouse shook his head and stated, "I will make a deal with you, hawk. If after fifty years, you have saved more money than me, not only will I give myself up for your feast, I will lead every mouse in this field to your nest."

The hawk did not take long to consider the proposition. He knew he could cover more ground flying than the mouse could crawling. He would be able to locate twice as many lost dollar bills and thus build a much larger nest. The hunter concluded that in fifty years, he would have a great feast.

Years ticked by and every day the hawk collected two dollars. On each given day, the mouse found one dollar and invested it wisely. Fifty years later, the bird of prey lived in a large nest made of twigs, mud, and dollar bills. He was feeble and sickly. And although his nest equaled that of $36,500.00(1) , along with a few very nice tree limbs, he knew the mouse would have less. He no longer invaded the far stretching fields, but took comfort in knowing he would soon have his great feast. As the hawk glared down from his perch, he saw the mouse. The mouse was alone.

"So, hawk, how much money do you have?"

"Just under $37,000(1) . And you?"

"I have $508,462(2), you fool. You see, I invested my $365 wisely every year. I dollar cost averaged into the market and utilized well-diversified mutual funds over the course of all these years. I am the victor and you have no feast."

The hawk collapsed into his nest and was never seen again. The mouse lived a happy life and provided handsomely for his family. He passed along a bit of advice to those who asked about saving: "The individual most accountable for your future financial welfare, is the one you see in the mirror today."

*Hypothetical investment for illustration purposes only.

(1): Based on a savings of $730 each year for fifty years with no interest.

(2): Based on a savings of $365 each year for fifty years earning 10.5% annually.

Wardlaw has been involved in the fields of investments and insurance for over twelve years. The author's belief is that familiar life elements best illustrate practical investment strategies; not typical investment jargon. For comments and questions, please contact the author at

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