- Contribute the maximum allowed amount to your 401k and Roth IRA every year.
I started this with my first job and I'm so glad I did. I decided it would hurt less if I just started out my working life without having that money in my check, as opposed to making the decision to start taking it out later. I like being forced to save money-- I am not so disciplined that I don't need this kind of help! And of course it is great that it is deducted before taxes, and my employer matches a portion of my contributions too.
The Roth IRA was a little harder, since I had to make myself set it up! There were a couple of years where I didn't get around to it, but I have 6 years' worth of maximum contributions now. The first couple were CDs at my local bank, which involved going in and talking to someone at the bank who wasn't very helpful. But now I have an E*Trade Roth IRA account, so for the last few years it's been easy to just transfer the money in, and I've been putting it into mutual funds that will hopefully earn more than CDs in the long run.
Retirement is such a tricky subject. According to the calculator in Quicken, if I continue at this pace, I should at least be able to retire in my early 70s without starving to death. But that assumes a lot of variables that I’m just not sure about: what will my tax rate be when I retire? How old will I be when I retire, and how long will I live after that? Crystal ball, anyone?