When students graduate from college and enter the workforce, it can be difficult for them to think about retirement. It is, after all, a long time until retirement. And, this is typically the first time the graduates are starting to make real money. Many employers offer a match on the 401(k) up to a certain percentage contributed by the employee. Say for instance you contribute 6% of your paycheck, your employer may match that 6%. Or, some companies match half, or a third of that. However, the important point here is that if your company matches, it would be silly to not get this "free" money contributed to your 401(k) each month.

Here's some data: Say your first job pays $42,000 per year or $3500 per month. If you contribute 6%, or $210, to your 401(k) and your employer matches this 6%, that's another $210 of "free" money going into your 401(k) each month. Looking at the numbers that way, it's a little hard to pass up, huh?

I know it's difficult to give up even 3% of your paycheck especially when you've been living off Ramen for the last several years, but if you start contributing to your 401(k) from day one, you won't miss that money and it'll have more years to compound and grow. The earlier you start, the more time your money has to grow and the better off you'll be in the future. It will pay off.