The longer you wait, the less time your savings have to grow, meaning you’ll need to set aside more to hit the same target.

For example, reports from the Center for Retirement Research estimate that 25-year-old workers who hope to retire at age 62 would need to save 15 percent per year to adequately replace their income in retirement. Start at age 35, and required savings jump to 24 percent per year to meet that same goal — or save 15 percent but delay retirement to age 65.

Putting aside money early can also provide flexibility. You’ll have more leeway to meet goals even in the face of unexpected problems like a market downturn, job loss or illness, said certified financial planner Evelyn Zohlen, president of Inspired Financial in Huntington Beach, California.

“The earlier you start saving, the greater protection you have from forces beyond your control,” she said.

Getting into the habit of saving at a younger age can have a broader financial impact, too. That behavior becomes the model of how you prepare for any financial decision, Zohlen said.

“It creates an example for your family to follow: This how we come up with money for things,” she said.

That might mean in time, you’re more likely to be among those families who have an adequate emergency fund, rather than those struggling with credit card debt.

If bad savings habits are among your regrets, stop procrastinating.

“It is absolutely never, ever too late to get on track,” Zohlen said.