Okay, it would have been better to start saving early, but let's face it: Most people don't. Still, there's hope for late starters (even those starting at 50). A few years of serious saving can make a huge difference to your quality of life in retirement.
"The first thing you need to do is take a reality pill," says Martha Priddy Patterson, director of employee-benefits analysis at Deloitte Touche. "Figure out what you have and how much you'll need to put away for a decent retirement."
Then launch into savings overdrive - you need to stash away as much as, or more than, someone seeking to retire early. You do have one thing going for you. Anyone over age 50 can also make catch-up contributions of as much as $5,000 to a 401(k) and an additional $1,000 to an IRA.
You might be surprised at how quickly your work can show results. Say you are a 50-year-old earning $100,000 with only $150,000 saved. Research by T. Rowe Price shows that if you put the max in your 401(k), including a catch-up contribution and a 50% match, plus invest another 5% outside the plan, you'll have $1.5 million by age 65, assuming you earn an average of 8% a year. With that, a true retirement will be no myth at all.