The sooner you start putting your money to work, the better. If you start at age 22, for example, you may only have to set aside 4-10 percent of your salary to accumulate a million dollars.
But the longer you wait to start saving, the more catching up you'll have to do. To illustrate this, personal finance site NerdWallet created a chart showing the percentage of each biweekly paycheck you'd need to set aside to have $1 million saved by the time you're 67.
The chart assumes you're starting at age 40 with zero dollars invested. It also assumes a six percent average annual investment return and various annual salaries.
Depending on how much you earn, you'll have to save 13-to-37 percent of your income to reach millionaire status by age 67. Scroll over the chart to see the exact numbers.
"This comparison is designed not to freak out someone who is 40 or older, but to motivate younger investors," says Arielle O'Shea, investing and retirement specialist at NerdWallet. "It clearly illustrates how much waiting to save for retirement can cost you."
"It's unreasonable to assume you'll be able to dedicate more than 30 percent of your paychecks toward savings," she continues. "If you start saving early, you won't have to."
For example, starting 10 years earlier, at age 30, gives you a significant advantage.
A good start, O'Shea tells CNBC Make It, is to use a retirement calculator to figure out how much you should be saving each month: "Having a plan for how and when you're going to increase your contributions — next time you get a raise, at the start of every year — can help you make more progress."
Once you have a specific money goal in mind, start building your nest egg. For inspiration, check out:
Like this story? Like CNBC Make It on Facebook!