Unless you expect your children to support you in retirement, stop thinking like an all-nurturing parent. When you have kids, it's only natural to believe that college needs are more pressing than your far more distant retirement. A recent survey by the College Savings Foundation found that 53% of parents consider college savings their top priority, ahead of retirement or a house.
Problem is, this kind of thinking can lead you to pass up a big weapon: the power of compounding over time.
Save $100 a month from age 25 to 35, then stop and let the money grow. You'll have $182,000 in 30 years. Wait until you turn 45 to start saving and you'll have to put away $315 a month for 20 years to end up with the same amount.
Then too, if you come up short when it's time to pay for college, you (and your kids) can get help, from loans to outright grants. You can't apply for a retirement scholarship at age 65. That doesn't mean you should give up entirely on saving for college or other goals. Just make putting away money for retirement your top priority.
As for college, don't assume you have to save enough to pay the full price tag - for most families, a reasonable goal is to save for a third of the costs and make up the rest through financial aid, loans and your income when classes start and the bills roll in.