Making a long-term financial plan is super difficult when you’re still trying to work out how your paycheck can cover rent, bills, and paying off your hefty student loan. That’s why it didn’t really surprise us to learn that more than half of millennials think a secure retirement is beyond reach, according to a new survey by Merrill Lynch. But because we millennials are motivated AF, we’re taking our future into our own hands by outlining tangible steps to grow our retirement funds. Financial experts shared seven super simple ways to start saving for retirement in your 20s. Yes, it’s totally possible.

Happy woman saving money in a piggybank

1. Start by deciding your retirement number. Starting a retirement plan can be super intimidating. Sharing economy expert at The Casual Capitalist, Glenn Carter, suggests figuring out the age you’d like to retire before you start planning any specifics about how you’re going to save your moola. “Doing this also encourages you to find other means of generating income,” says Carter. “I usually recommend millennials try out the gig economy (AKA pursue those side hustles), because it’s easy to get started and the capital requirements are minimal.”

2. Pay yourself first. While a sizable credit card bill or looming rent payment might seem like the biggest priority in your budget, author of Climbing the Retirement Mountain Calvin Goetz suggests putting savings first. “Millennials should get in the habit of putting at least 10 percent of their income into retirement savings, whether that includes contributions to their employer’s 401(k) plan or additional contributions to a Roth IRA if they’re eligible,” advises Goetz.


3. Automate your savings. “Let’s face it: Most millennials don’t have as much income as older generations, considering the student debt load most are carrying,” says Carter. Because of this, it’s ridiculously easy to forget to regularly put money toward retirement. That’s what makes automatic deductions so great. You can set it, forget it, and benefit from the long-term effects of compounding without ever having to walk into a bank.

4. Avoid the latte factor. As millennial financial planner at Lighthouse Financial Advisors Dennis McNamara puts it, “We are what we do every day.” If stopping at Starbucks for a grande vanilla latte is a regular occurrence, take a moment and think about how much you could save for retirement if you treated yourself once a week instead of every day.

5. Save for *more* than just retirement. “This will sound weird, but make sure you’re saving for not-retirement too,” advises personal finance expert at Half Banked, Desirae Odjick. “The best way to avoid plundering your retirement savings to join your friends on that impromptu trip to Spain is to make sure you have what I call spendable savings too.” Along with saving for your post-work life, set up a separate savings account for fun activities (and an emergency fund!).


6. Apply your raises directly to your retirement fund. When most people get a raise at work, the first thing they do is go out and buy that super cool item that’s been on their wish list for years. Consumer-saving expert Andrea Woroch says this is a no-no. “Instead of boosting your lifestyle every time you receive a raise, direct the increase to your retirement funds. If you’re already living comfortably on your current income, the extra funds are of better use to you in a retirement fund that benefits from compound interest,” she says.

7. Treat saving like an expense. While most people make a detailed financial plan for things like rent, car payments, and their cell phone bill, not many people treat retirement savings as an expense. “Saving is a line item in your budget, just like these other expenses,” says investing and retirement specialist for NerdWallet Arielle O’Shea. Treating retirement savings as a can’t-miss monthly expense will help you make a mental shift toward a non-negotiable monthly saving amount.

Have you started a retirement plan yet? Tweet us by mentioning @BritandCo.

(Photos via Getty)