Millennial Retirement PlanningIf you are younger than 35, saving for retirement may not feel like a priority. After all, retirement may be 30 years away; if your employer does not sponsor a retirement plan, there may be less incentive for you to start.

Even so, you must save for retirement as soon as you can. Time is your greatest ally. The earlier you begin, the more years your invested assets have to grow and compound. If you put off retirement planning until your fifties, you may end up having to devote huge chunks of your income just to catch up, at a time when you may have to care for elderly parents, fund college educations, and pay off a mortgage.

Do your part to reject the financial stereotype that the media places on millennials. Are you familiar with it? According to the mainstream media, millennials are wary of saving; they are just too indebted, too pessimistic.

A recent study from HowMuch.Net found that 52% of Americans aged 18-34 have less than $1,000 in savings. Well, guess what: another study from Go Banking Rates reveals that 62% of all Americans have less than $1,000 in savings.

Now is the time to take some crucial financial steps. According to a poll taken by millennial advocacy group Young Invincibles, only 43% of 18-to-34-year-olds without access to a workplace retirement plan save consistently for retirement; whether your employer sponsors a plan or not, though, you can still make some wise moves before you turn 40.

Make saving a top priority. Resolve to pay yourself first. That is, direct money toward your retirement before you do anything else, like pay the bills or spend it on needs or wants. Your future should come first.

The effect of compounding can be profound. For example, suppose you want to retire with $1 million in savings. (By 2050, this may be a common goal rather than a lofty one.) We will project that your investments will yield 6.5% a year between now and the year you turn 65 (a reasonably optimistic assumption) and, for the sake of simplicity, we will put any potential capital gains taxes and investment fees aside. Given all that, how early would you have to begin saving and investing to reach that $1 million goal, and how much would you have to save per month to reach it?

If you start saving at 45, the answer is $2,039. If you start saving at 35, the monthly number drops to $904. How about if you start saving at 25? Only $438 a month would be needed. The earlier you start saving, the more compounding power you can harness.

Strive to get the match. Some companies reward employees with matching retirement plan contributions; they will contribute 50 cents for every dollar the worker does or, perhaps, even match the contribution dollar-for-dollar. An employer match is too good to pass up.

Realize that friends and family may not know it all. The people closest to you may or may not be familiar with saving. If they are not, take what they tell you with a few grains of salt.