Doug Nordman and his wife have always talked to their daughter, Carol, about the concept of retirement, and it was when she was a teenager that she decided she wanted to be financially independent, he said.

She watched Nordman, a retired member of the Navy and blogger at The Military Guide, and his wife, Marge, handle money her whole life, and would read personal finance blogs or practice frugality alongside her parents, Nordman said. They discussed work-life balances, salaries, tax withholding and investing. After graduating high school, she went on to serve in the Navy with an ROTC internship and maintains a high savings rate, at about 40% or so.

“She’d also watched other families and decided that she wanted to save her money for financial independence instead of buying more stuff,” he said. “She wanted to have more life choices.”

Discussing money — and especially retirement — with a teenager pays off, and it’s never too early to start the conversation.

See: Yes, you can have your latte and retire, too

Americans are not saving enough for retirement, and in some cases they’re not starting young enough, either. Workers today can expect to spend decades of their lives in retirement, and will have to pay for the necessities, such as housing, groceries and utilities, as well as the unexpected, like emergencies and mounting health care. Even those with 401(k) plans and other retirement accounts are not putting away as much as they could, sometimes at no fault of their own — saving for retirement is one of the many financial obligations a person has, alongside paying off student loans, shorter-term goals and everyday expenses.

But young people have an advantage their older counterparts do not have: time. Even if they don’t have a lot of money to start with, just $5 or $10 a month in the beginning of their college careers, while they’re working part time or interning, can be extremely beneficial. Compound interest, which is the interest paid to the investor on the principal and previous interest earned, is a powerful tool, and the younger the account, the more can be potentially earned.

Parents can have conversations about money management, or even reward their kids for saving. Nordman said he and his wife let their daughter decide how to spend cash at a young age, either using it to buy food or toys, or saving it at “the Bank of Dad,” where she’d earn interest (a penny) every month.

Liz, a mom of three and personal finance blogger at Chief Mom Officer, said she’s talked to her children about money since before they were in school. Her teenager now knows about compound interest and investing, and when he gets a job she’ll offer him a “parental match” to encourage saving in an IRA. “When I was a teen, my father did this for my teenage job as a cashier, and I loved seeing my money instantly increase with that match,” she said.

Others have also made a point to discuss saving for the future with their teenagers:

Also see: Americans may have guessed the amount they need to save for retirement — but they’ll probably never get there

Of course, retirement is a long way away for most teenagers, in which case there are a few other ways to connect them with the concept of saving for this far-off goal. Parents and teachers can encourage teenagers to imagine themselves when they’re older, and closer to retirement. Studies have shown people can’t always picture themselves older, and equate saving for retirement to giving money to a stranger.

Also, it’s important to introduce them to the right savings vehicles, such as 401(k) plans when they do become eligible to join one, or IRAs until then. Some parents may want to open a Roth IRA for their working children because those accounts allow for withdrawals of principal tax- and penalty-free. Understanding the basics of investing can set new employees up for success when they get paperwork asking them to enroll in a 401(k). Young adults need to understand it’s OK if they’re starting out contributing just a few dollars a month, said Shelly-Ann Eweka, a wealth adviser at TIAA. “Start with whatever you can,” she said. “Push yourself to start with just a little bit.”

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