Enroll in your employer's 401(k) plan
"Start contributing to your company's 401(k) plan as soon as possible," says Perry. It's one of the simplest ways to put your money to work and jumpstart your retirement savings.
In terms of how much you should be contributing, the more the better, but you'll want to at least take full advantage of the company match — which is essentially free money — if it offers one. The way it works is, your company will match whatever contribution you put towards your 401(k) up to a certain amount. For example, if you choose to put 4% of your salary into your account, your employer will put that same amount in as well, in effect doubling your contribution.
But you only get their money if you put yours in first.
Next, you'll want to get in the habit of increasing your contributions consistently, either every six months, at the end of the year, or when you get a bonus or a raise. Check online to see if you can set up "auto-increase," which allows you to choose the percentage you want to increase your contributions by and how often.
If your employer doesn't offer a 401(k) plan, you have options, such as contributing to a Roth IRA or traditional IRA, which are both individual retirement accounts that offers tax breaks.
"Sometimes, with a first job, you may not have a huge paycheck, so there may not be a lot left over each month, but you at least want to put something away," says Perry. Start small and work your way up to contributing 10% of your pretax income, which is what most experts recommend.