Note to self: Save for retirement. But first I need to pay that parking ticket and make a vet appointment and, and, and....

Sound familiar? Then how about taking the next five minutes to make sure retirement is the carefree romp that it should be?

Let's do some back-of-the-envelope accounting. Use this Ballpark Estimate worksheet to do some quick math. Guess what? You've started planning your retirement! High five! That's a lot more knowledge than most people have at your tender age.

Looking at the numbers, you may be feeling a little more generous towards your future self. How about upping the contribution to your work retirement plan? Even a few percentage points can make a big difference in the long term. And it's painless in the short term. We swear! Go ahead and increase your 401(k) contribution. (Simply ask your human resources department for the proper contribution change form, or use this pre-prepared one.)

Don't stop now. With visions of retirement dancing in your head, go with the momentum and give your retirement savings a bonus gift. Send an IRA contribution check to your brokerage account for the year 2003. There's a $3,000 limit, but whatever you can afford right now is great. Don't have an IRA set up yet? It's easy to do through a discount broker. What are you waiting for?

Now re-run those cocktail napkin calculations. See? You're already making progress.

Extra credit: Still reading? Huzzah for you! Find out other moves you should make for your golden years -- insurance, housing, asset allocation, and other post 9-5 surprises -- with our How To Plan the Perfect Retirement How-To Guide.

For more detailed directions to achieving the future of your dreams, TMF Money Advisor helps you track, troubleshoot, and even talk to a financial planner as frequently as you need. (Plus all enrollees get free access to all of our retirement seminars.) Ooooh, and guess what? There's a 30-day free trial going on right now. Hop to it!

Have any other financial resolutions to tackle? We can help you get out of debt, spend less, make more, invest smart, and start you on the path to six-pack abs by summertime. Well, three out of four isn't bad.