NEW YORK (FOX 5 NEWS) - The prevailing wisdom when it comes to retirement is "The earlier you start, the easier it will be." But if you haven't started yet, don't panic.
Anne Lester, head of retirement solutions at J.P. Morgan Asset Management, said even a small contribution can make a big difference. Anne said you should start with as much as you can afford, but even as little as $25 to $50 a month will make a huge difference. And that money needs to go into the markets.
Anne said J.P. Morgan is expecting returns of 5 percent to 6 percent over the next 10 to 15 years if you invest your money in a mixture of stocks and bonds.
If you put your money in a savings account, you're going to earn 1 percent to 2 percent at most and maybe even a little less right now. That money is not going to grow over time.
Start with the 401(k) at work if you have one. Anne said most workplace plans match what you save, which is free money.
Many of those plans are based on an average life expectancy of 85. But most people don't meet the definition of average, according to new research from JP Morgan Asset Management. So you should plan for the edges. Most people die somewhere between their early 70s and 105. Those are the edges. Anne said you should keep that in mind when you're planning for retirement.
The average American earns about $60,000 per year. (Again, this is the average, not the edges!) If you can only afford to put away 1 percent of that income (or whatever your income may be) start there. That's $1.63 a day.
If you can put that much away this year, then raise it to 2 percent next year and 3 percent the year after that. In 10 years, Anne said, you'll be on your way.
Here are three great tips if you're just getting started.
1. Set automatic deductions from your paycheck so you don't even see the money coming out of your account and you don't even have to think about it.
2. If you can, set automatic annual increases so you're guaranteed to save more each year.
3. Delay taking Social Security payments, if possible. A lot of people plan to start taking those payments as soon as they turn 62. If you can afford to hold out to 65 or even 70 you'll get a lot more money per check for the rest of your life.