A study released earlier this year claimed that roughly 34 percent of Americans have nothing saved for retirement. That number has increased since 2009, when the rate was just 30 percent.

In an uncertain economic climate, some of us put retirement planning on the back burner. But doing that can be quite costly, especially when you think of all the potential earned interest that money could have earned over the years.

It’s never too late to start putting away money for retirement. If you or someone you know hasn’t begun, it’s wise to start today. And if you’re not sure where to begin, here are five tips for creating a strategy that can help you build the retirement you want.

Take a Picture

When starting a new financial endeavor, it’s a good idea to get a picture of your current financial state. Creating a retirement plan is no different. Your first step may be answering basic questions:

  • How much money do you make each month?
  • Do you have any debt you’d like to pay down?
  • Are there any major expenses you foresee having in retirement, such as caring for a special-needs adult child?

See Your End Point

How much do you hope to save for retirement? Having a specific number in mind can help you keep your savings on track. If you know you’d like to have $1 million in the bank by the time you retire, you can figure out how much to put away each month to reach this goal. If you’re getting a late start on retirement saving, you might consider delaying retirement beyond the traditional retirement age. Leaving the workforce at 70 instead of 65 gives you five more years of income to put toward your goal. Those few years can make a significant difference.

Redefine Work

There was a time when retirement meant leaving the workforce and surviving on your savings and investments. But the face of retirement is changing in a way that might ease your mind if you’re getting a late start to planning your future. Think about ways you might make additional income before you reach retirement age, and then about how you might supplement your income once you’ve retired, such as by turning a hobby into a source of income. Those tactics might boost your income to help you have the retirement you want.

Choose Your Method

Once you know how much you’ll be putting away, you need to figure out where to save it. This might mean saving money into your employer’s 401(k), contributing to an IRA, investing, saving with a CD or through some combination of these strategies. Make sure you know the tax implications tied to each saving method, so you don’t run into any unpleasant surprises. If you’re unsure how to proceed, speak to a financial advisor.

Be Aggressive

Getting a late start on saving for retirement isn’t the end of the world, but it does mean you have to be that much more serious about your savings. After you do the math, you may find the best way to ensure a happy retirement involves putting away as much money as you possibly can each month. You may also want to think about cutting costs that are holding you back from your goal. This might mean relocating to a less expensive area, or selling pricey assets you no longer need.

A Later Start is Better Than None At All

Getting a late start on retirement may be less than ideal, but you should always try to do the most you can with the time you have left. Stay optimistic. Envision the retirement you want to have. Once you do that, all you need is a smartly built savings plan to get you there.

Have you started saving for retirement? What advice do you have for someone who has yet to start saving?