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Become a millionaire by saving when you're young

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"The problem is, when they're living at home, they take for granted that room and board is free, transportation is relatively free, most of their expenses are gratis on the parents, so they've got that financial umbilical cord. When they do break out on their own, they find out that everything has an associated cost. It's a really tough concept for them that they just got done with college and they already have to save for retirement, so some of them are frozen in time and they just don't start saving," Aretakis says.

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Make affordable sacrifices
Peg Downey, a fee-only Certified Financial Planner and partner in Money Plans, of Silver Spring, Md., says it only takes a small lifestyle adjustment early on, not a major commitment, to get this saving party started.

"If they just saved what they spend everyday at Starbucks, they would have a million dollars right there when they retired," she says. "It's phenomenal."

Maybe not a million -- but a half million, easy. Why quit the daily stop at Starbucks? You can brew that good stuff at home much more cheaply.

Let's say that, beginning at age 25, you put the equivalent of seven $4 grande lattes a week toward retirement, setting aside $121 a month. If you invest it in a stock mutual fund with annualized returns of 9 percent, you would see $23,415 after 10 years, $80,814 after 20 years, $221,520 after 30 years and a whopping half-mil, or $566,440, when you retire at age 65.

Similarly, you can add even more to your retirement funds if you routinely set aside the price of small purchases.

Small trade-offs to make for future security:
A couple of movie dates a month.
An occasional manicure or tanning session.
Music CDs.
A couple of appletinis a week.

Women: Pay close attention
Of course, historically, investing in a stock fund that mimics an index such as the Standard & Poor's 500 has offered returns of 10 percent, but there is no guarantee that it will continue to do so in the future. Nevertheless, young folks are in the best position to weather the storms of volatile markets because they have more time to recoup losses.

Downey says young women in particular need to start socking away the latte cash sooner rather than later.

"They're going to live longer, they're going to earn less, and they may need to fund their own retirement," she says. "The way that jobs work now, you don't stay at one job more than a couple of years, so nobody is going to be building up any kind of pension, even if there was one."

Make it, but don't take it
The easiest way to make affordable sacrifices on a regular basis? Take the money out of your paycheck before it hits your hand.

 
 
Next: "... Strive to live within your means -- not some Hollywood fantasy."
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 RESOURCES
How the young can get rich
10 financial tips for young people
Fear -- a good incentive to save
 TOP RETIREMENT STORIES
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