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Become a millionaire by saving when you're young

Being young and financially irresponsible is great fun, but being old and broke stinks.

Still, that doesn't mean you have to become a shut-in and put every spare cent into your retirement plan. Tuck away a little bit on a regular basis and you can party when you're 19 and 99.

The turbulent 20s, that sometimes pleasurable, often painful transition from carefree adolescence to responsible adulthood, is admittedly a difficult time for anyone to focus on saving for retirement.

"It's tough to start talking too many numbers with young people because a lot of times they're also overwhelmed -- it's their first job, their first real paycheck, their first apartment, their first time dealing with health insurance," says Derek Avdul, financial consultant and author of "Real Life 101: The Workbook."

"When you have all these variables going on and they're trying to be grown-ups, retirement just takes a back burner for a lot of them."

Small sacrifices
Saving a little bit each month from the time you are young doesn't require great sacrifice, yet it can make the difference between prosperity and poverty in the second half of your life.
Put retirement front and center
1.   Cut the financial umbilical cord
2.   Make affordable sacrifices
3.   Women: Pay close attention
4.   Make it, but don't take it
5.   Don't pass up free-money 401(k) plans
6.   Live within your means

The reason their parents' generation continues to harp on it, with the best of intentions of course, is that many of them wish they'd started saving earlier, when they could have made smaller sacrifices and let compound interest do the heavy lifting. Compound interest, you may recall, is interest that is calculated on the initial principal and the accumulated interest of prior periods.

But that sage advice, as sound as it is timeless, still mostly falls on deaf ears.

"You can't talk to them about 30 years from now and how compound interest is going to benefit them, because, as we all know, at that age you know a lot more than anybody older than you and you're not going to need retirement money because you're going to make it big on your own," Avdul says.

Cut the financial umbilical cord
Unrealistic money expectations are rampant among young people today, according to author Nicholas Aretakis, who interviewed hundreds of 20-somethings coast to coast for his tough-talking survival guide, "No More Ramen."

"Why don't they save? The short version is, they never had to do it before. Their parents, the baby boomers and just after, have done so well economically that they've never had to have a budget before," he says.

Next: "Why quit the daily stop at Starbucks?"
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