If you’re just entering the job market, you may not have even thought about retirement. And with bills to pay and other stress factors in your life, it can be easy to continue neglecting your retirement. But we strongly advise you against that. The earlier you start sinking money into your retirement, the sooner you can retire – and even a few extra years of tucking money away can have an outsized impact on how much money you actually have when you leave the job market for good.

Obviously, sinking money into your account five years earlier will give you an extra five years of savings, but the real advantage comes from compound interest. Since every dollar you invest in your account is making money over time, there’s a snowball effect the earlier you put cash in. Your initial investment will return a percentage, and then that percentage will make a percentage as well. While that interest may seem inconsequential at the start, it can quickly gain momentum and show dramatic effects five or ten years down the road.

But there are advantages beyond compound interest as well. Starting on your retirement savings as soon as possible means that you’re establishing good habits early, and it will be easier to automatically allocate a percentage of your income as you move up the corporate ladder. If you’re just out of college, putting aside any money might be a struggle, but you’ll be setting good spending and savings habits from the jump.

While putting money aside can be a great way to condition yourself to save prudently, you should definitely come in with a plan. Retirement may seem like a long way off, but the more you put off budgeting, the longer you’ll have to wait to retire. It can be hard to know exactly what direction your job will take, but you can still get a ballpark estimate of where you’ll be 20 or 30 years down the road. Take the time to determine exactly how much money you’ll need to retire comfortably, and game out the next few decades at your current job. This won’t just prepare you for retirement. It will also help you understand how ambitious you’ll need to be to achieve your goals.