When should you start saving for retirement? The conventional wisdom says now—the sooner the better. In fact, financial advisors typically recommend that retirement savings be started while you’re still in your 20s.

This is unquestionably sound advice, but it can also be discouraging or dispiriting for those who make it to 30 without ever setting a single red cent aside for their retirement needs. So while it’s true that retirement savings should start early, it’s also important to note that it’s never too late to start saving and to get caught up on planning your future.

Starting a Retirement Plan: The Basics

If you’re in your 30s and are just now getting started with retirement planning, don’t worry. Here are some basic guidelines to help you get started.

Start with the proper expectations. Your retirement will last you, on average, 20 years or more, and you’ll need to cover both daily expenses, healthcare costs, and, of course, any financial legacy you want to leave behind. Before you start planning, you need to know exactly what you’re planning for.

Get real about Social Security. Countless words have been written either defending or deriding Social Security. Regardless of your own assumptions about the program, it’s best to go into your retirement planning with the expectation that Social Security won’t be a big factor in your retirement. You’ll need separate streams of income.

Figure out how much you will need. Conventional wisdom says you’ll need to replace anywhere from 70 to 90 percent of your pre-retirement income. You can find online calculators to help you figure this out, but really the best action is to meet with a retirement planner to hash things out.

Start saving! Take full advantage of compound interest. Even setting aside a small amount can be meaningful in the long run.

Make sure you have a good retirement account. Ask about employer-sponsored 401(ks), and take advantage of employer matches; alternatively, ask your financial planner about IRAs, which are often better options anyway.

Develop a habit of saving. Ideally, set up automatic contributions from each paycheck.

Review your retirement plan annually. Don’t let is gather dust. Sit down with your retirement planner regularly to figure out where you’re at and where you’re headed.

Again, it’s never too late to save or to plan—but you’ve got to be deliberate about it. Contact Stonepath Wealth Management for assistance or for further insights.