"If your employer offers a retirement amount, at least contribute to the point of the match," Thakor says. "That's a guaranteed return on your investment of 50 percent to 100 percent."
Even if an employer-sponsored retirement plan isn't an option, saving for retirement early is still crucial. According to Bankrate.com's 401(k) calculator, a 20-year-old who saves $100 per month in a retirement account generating 8 percent annual returns will retire with more than a 30-year-old who saves twice as much each month. If a 401(k) is off the table, investigate options like an individual retirement account or a Roth IRA.