Money

These 4 charts will totally change how you think about saving money

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If you have little to no money in savings right now, you're not alone: Most Americans are not prepared for retirement or even an emergency.

The charts below, from personal finance site NerdWallet, will make you want to start saving right away.

Each one shows how much money you'd need to set aside to have $1 million saved by the time you're 67. It assumes you start with zero dollars and also assumes various average annual investment returns.

The charts looks significantly different depending on what age you start saving.

Here's what the path to $1 million looks like if you start saving at age 25:

If you start saving at age 30, things get a little trickier:

The longer you wait to start saving, the harder it will be to reach your goals. The next chart shows how much of each biweekly paycheck you'd need to set aside to have $1 million if you start at age 40 with zero dollars invested.

Depending on how much you earn, you'll have to save a major chunk of your paycheck: 13 to 37 percent.

As you can see, starting early is incredibly advantageous. And it's all thanks to one simple principle: compound interest.

Compounding makes a sum grow at a faster rate than simple interest, because in addition to earning returns on the money you invest, you also earn returns on those returns over time. It causes your wealth to snowball over time and means that you don't have to save as much to reach your money goals.

Here's another compound interest chart, which The New York Times columnist and author Ron Lieber says changed his life.

Published in 1994 by USAA, it shows how much money you'll accumulate over time if you invest $250 a month starting at different ages. It assumes an eight percent average annual investment return.

If you start at age:

25: You'll accumulate $878,570 by age 65

35: You'll accumulate $375,073 by age 65

45: You'll accumulate $148,236 by age 65

In short, the longer you wait to start saving and investing, the more you'll miss out on compound interest.

Ready to put your money to work?

The simplest starting point is to invest in your employer's 401(k) plan, a tax-advantaged retirement savings account, or other retirement savings accounts, such as a Roth IRA or traditional IRA.

You can also research low-cost index funds, which Warren Buffett recommends, and online investment platforms known as robo-advisers.

To help you save more and spend less, check out:

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