152. Timeless power of time: The most accessible lever of Wealth Creation (6. Building Finance Intuition)

Rama Nimmagadda
5 min readFeb 23, 2024
Photo taken by Prateek Kumar Rohatgi in 2024 near Bhigwan Lake, India

“Successful investing takes time, discipline, and patience. No matter how great the talent or effort, some things just take time: You can’t” produce a baby in one month by getting nine women pregnant.” — Warren Buffet

A few years ago, a few of us were dealing with a stressful predicament at work. I was put under tremendous pressure by a number of senior leaders to commit to delivering a complex, time sensitive project within untenable timelines. I was fully cognizant that failure of that project would be very costly to our firm but at that point, people were desperately looking for any sense of control and hence wanted the tech head (that was me) to commit to the wishful deadline. The consolation in their mind was that they gave a a free pass at funding to get things done. It fell on deaf ears when I kept telling them that the project timelines were not constrained by funding but by the complexity and magnitude of work. Finally, to put an end to the clamour, I had to force a metaphor on them — you can’t expect to have a child delivered in one month by having nine pregnant women. It takes nine months of a well-guarded pregnancy for a healthy baby to be delivered — you just cannot crash this timeline.

In my previous two blogs on Financial Intuition (here and here), I covered what I believe to be two of the three most critical levers for creating wealth — “earnings” and “asset allocation”. The key points were that the savings that we carve out from our earnings are purposefully allocated to a range of appropriate assets so that wealth grows in an unencumbered fashion. In this blog, I cover the third lever which is essentially concerned with setting aside enough time for assets to grow.

“Waiting helps you as an investor and a lot of people just can’t stand to wait. If you didn’t get the deferred-gratification gene, you’ve got to work very hard to overcome that.” — Charlie Munger

Humans generally don’t grow in height after a certain age (mid-teenage to early twenties). It is understood that nutrition is one of the critical inputs that determines the height one reaches. Once we are past the growth stage of height, no amount of compensation for the shortfall of right nutrition during growth stage will help in increasing height anymore. Growth needed support at the right time.

You cannot compensate for a full night sleep with multiple installments of naps or short sleep segments. About eight hours of sleep is required to maintain good health. This cannot be replaced with two bouts of four to five hours of sleep. Sleep debt tends to remain as debt — it generally cannot be repaid by sleeping longer later, it can at best be reduced.

All other factors being equal, slow growing trees tend to outlive the fast growing ones. Slow growing trees tend to be hardier and are more resilient to environmental stressors such as famine, heat, cold etc. They have deeper and more extensive roots, redundant structural components, retention of reproductive capacity into old age, better vascular systems etc. I’m no expert on trees but I know that once a tree goes through initial vulnerable stages of growth, it tends to grow to its full potential and live for a long time. Important to note that many long living trees do not start reproduction for many years or even decades after they spring forth.

“Compound interest is like a snowball rolling down a hill. The real trick is to start the snowball on top of the hill.” — Charlie Munger

Also, all time is not equal.

Trees grow non-linearly with respect to time, human babies grow non-linearly with time, COVID-19 infection spread non-linearly with time, great careers grow non-linearly with time and so does financial wealth. This non-linearity typically manifests in the form of slow growth for a long time before fast growth picks up rather rapidly.

This is because these kinds of growth happen in the realm of complex systems. In complex environments, “growth” assets spend a long-time marinating before they cook.

For example, if you were to invest Rs 50,000/- every month, it takes about 9.5 years to accumulate the first crore (1 crore = 1,00,00,000) rupees. If you continue with the same monthly investment, each successive crore will accumulate in 5 years, then 2.5 years, then 2 years, followed by 1.5 years and so on.

Consider this progression again:

10 years, 5 years, 2.5 years, 2 years, 1.5 years……

“It’s a hallmark of any compounding process: the most powerful outcomes are delayed.” — James Clear

Wealth creation takes time. Crucially, once you give it (long) enough time, it picks up ferocious momentum buoyed by the all too powerful force of compounding. It is critical to ride this last segment of compounding “thrust”.

Consider this: a few years into it, should you pre-pay your home loan or instead, invest that lumpsum amount? The answer would surely depend on the specific circumstances but if you understand the power of time in creating wealth, your initial position (before you account for your specific circumstances) would be to invest.


“You may delay, but time will not.” — Benjamin Franklin

Nothing worthwhile gets done quickly. Not just wine, all good things take time.

For those on the growth path, time is an unfair advantage when they start out. But it can easily convert to a vicious affliction if one is not too careful. Time passes by imperceptibly and that makes it difficult to take advantage of time. Beware that “There is always time” works for those who take advantage of time every day. Start your investing journey as early as possible — it will not only let you ride the compounding wave but also lets you get away with investing smaller sums of money.

“Time stays long enough for anyone who will use it.” — Leonardo da Vinci


Thanks for taking time to read this. In this newsletter, I share my learnings that could help you improve your decisions and make meaningful progress on your goals. I try to share stuff that I have personally experienced or experimented with. If you find this newsletter worthwhile and if you do not mind it, please do consider sharing it with others.

A bit on my background

I help people make better decisions.

I coach people on “Making Better Decisions”, “Financial Intuition” and “Building Great Careers”. I’m open to run sessions on these topics in institutions — this will help me create larger impact.

I’m also an Investment Advisor (RIA) registered with the Securities and the Exchange Board of India (SEBI). As an RIA, I analyze and prepare financial plans to help people achieve their financial goals.

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