My grandfather managed pensions in the accounting department of the same company for 35 years. They said anybody who wanted to retire went straight to him to see if it was possible. A lot of his wisdom about planning for the long run stays with me today.

Show Me the Money

According to lifehappens.org, if you turn 65 this year, you’ll need to have $1,025,600 saved though various IRAs and 401(k)s plus $293,000 to cover future medical expenses. If you have $1.3 million on hand and just turned 65, congratulations, you’re able to retire. The rest of us, however, have a long way to go.

How Much Should I Save Each Year?

Check out this retirement calculator to see exactly how big of a hill you need to climb. With your annual income and age, this calculator takes into account inflation and a salary raise each year and then creates a graph showing what your savings plan should look like between today and when you turn 65.

Naturally, this is a calculator and not a psychic, so it can’t perfectly tailor a plan for you, but it uses your current financial situation to give you a savings base just for this year. It’s hard to think about retirement when you’re still in your 40s, 30s, or even 20s, but the money you put away when you’re young will pay off when you’re finally looking for that condo in Ft. Lauderdale.

Will My Employer Help Me Save?

Yes and no. If you think you’re going to have a pension when you retire, think again. According to BankRate, 24.2 million Americans were enrolled in a traditional pension in 1984. In 2013, only 11 million Americans had a pension through their employer. But fear not, pensions have been replaced by 401(k)s. A company will pull a small percentage of an employee’s salary and partially match it. 401(k)s are easier to roll over, which has benefitted both companies and their employees.

Not to pull the “when I was your age,” card, but it used to be a point of pride to only have one job on your resume in 30+ years. It should that you were loyal to the company you worked for and you trusted that they would be loyal to you in retirement. Today, the average employee stays at a company for fewer than five years – and that’s pushing it for millennials. The latest generation to enter the workforce will have 15-20 jobs between graduation and retirement.

When an employee begins at a new company, the new employer picks up where the old employer left off as soon the benefits kick in. This means that you don’t have to be married to your current job to plan for retirement. The sooner you have a 401(k) the sooner you can start saving and your employer(s) can start contributing.

So Start Saving Today…

There are two steps you can take today to be better prepared for retirement. First, talk to your bank about setting up an IRA or Roth IRA (the difference lies in the taxes) to start pulling from your salary monthly. Even if the company you work for doesn’t offer a 401(k) you can still put your future in your own hands with an individual retirement account. Most banks allow you to choose how much you contribute based on what you can afford, so there’s no excuse for putting off retirement investments another day.

Next, this article isn’t your stopping point for retirement research. Keep reading articles about 401(k)s, participate in forums about expected inflation, and watch videos about variable annuities. If knowledge isn’t power then money is, and you wont have either unless you do your research.

…And Never Stop.

For a few months last year, I cancelled my cable service. I had to choose between watching my favorite shows and continuing to add the same monthly amount to my IRA. It was only a small amount, but I know I’m slowly chipping away towards meeting my retirement goals. I know my grandfather is looking down from heaven and is proud of my financial choices.

Saving for retirement isn’t easy, and it’s extremely tempting to dip into your savings to use the money for things you want now. Have you started saving for retirement? If so, what steps have you taken?