Never too early: How to get millennials, Gen Z thinking about retirement saving

  • Vanguard found the median amount investors age 65 or older have saved for retirement is $64,811.
  • Financial advisor Avani Ramnani of Francis Financial says younger people are also poor at retirement planning, with nearly 60 percent of workers under 25 not participating in 401(k) plans.
  • The key to getting young people to take advantage of compound interest is more education.

The median amount American investors age 65 and up — those nearing or already in retirement — have saved up for their golden years is a mere $64,811, according to Vanguard.

While markets are currently soaring — and therefore boosting, for now, 401(k) account balances — people of all ages are woefully underprepared for the future. With younger workers displaying the same reticence to save and invest as their elders, what's to be done?

"I recommend starting early, saving more and saving frequently," Avani Ramnani, director of finance and wealth management at Francis Financial, said during an Aug. 29 appearance on CNBC's "Power Lunch." Millennials and their younger Gen Z siblings just starting out in careers who do so will really see the power of compound interest "pack a punch," she added.

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A 25-year-old who starts out putting aside $5,000 or $10,000 a year, eventually working their way up to saving the $18,500 now permitted annually, could potentially see their account grow to as much as $750,000. Ramnani recommends earmarking as much as 15 percent of gross salary — which, she said, "seems like a lot but, if you think about it, could be doable" — for retirement saving. Small savings such as cutting out fancy coffees and preparing lunch at home can go a long way in building a retirement nest egg, she said.

The problem is that there is not enough financial education out there yet. "Having mandatory education around ... long-term savings is crucial," said Ramnani, noting that almost 60 percent of workers under age 25 don't save via an employer 401(k) plan.