It\u2019s hard to be a millennial these days.\r\n\r\nEverywhere we turn, we see stories on how record levels of student loan debt are killing millennial\u2019s chances at homeownership. Meanwhile, money woes for millennials mean many are putting off marriage, quite possibly for good. And according to government figures, the unemployment rate for millennials still hovers near 15 percent \u2013 a statistic The Atlantic used last year to claim that millennials \u201chave it worse than any generation in the last 50 years.\u201d\r\n\r\nYes, millennials have it rough. They\u2019re living in their parent\u2019s basements, struggling to keep the cabinets stocked with Ramen, and wondering which move to make next.\r\n\r\nIt\u2019s all tragic and indisputable. Like it or not, being under thirty these days isn\u2019t easy \u2013 at least in an economic sense.\r\nThe Millennial Advantage No One Wants to Talk About\r\nBut here\u2019s the thing: Millennials have one huge advantage \u2013 one huge gift \u2013 that they almost refuse to recognize. This gift is something so valuable that it transcends every other item of value on Earth, and it\u2019s something that is finite, at least on an individual level.\r\n\r\nThat\u2019s right; millennials have time. Time to save. Time to pay off debt. Time to cultivate their passions, skillsets, and careers. Time to invest in the future. And yes, time to invest in a financial sense too. Because as we all know, the magic of compound interest is far easier to harness when you\u2019re young.\r\nSo, Why Aren\u2019t Millennials Investing?\r\nUnfortunately, a recent survey from Bankrate.com revealed that millennials aren\u2019t taking advantage of the one thing working in their favor \u2013 their youth. According to the survey, which polled 1,001 adults to gauge millennial attitudes on investing, only 26 percent of individuals under the age of 30 owned stock in early 2015.\r\n\r\nSurvey participants listed several main reasons why they choose not to invest, none of which are surprising. More than half of those who don\u2019t invest (53%) use a lack of financial resources as their excuse, while another 21 percent said they didn\u2019t know enough about stocks to take the plunge. The rest cited a general distrust of stockbrokers and worry over paying too much in fees. Related: See how much you are paying in fees with our Fee Analyzer.\r\n\r\nThose are all good reasons in theory, but disastrous when applied to the real world. It makes you wonder - what will happen to all the young people who fail to save and invest while they\u2019re young?\r\n\r\n\u201cYoung people who don't invest in equities early are set to have a lot less money later on," John Salter, associate professor of financial planning at Texas Tech University, told Bankrate.com after analyzing their survey results.\r\n\r\n\u201cThey won't benefit from those extra years of letting their portfolio grow, eventually earning the \u2018interest on interest\u2019 that generates real wealth,\u201d he said, adding that "it's just the simple value of compounding.\u201d\r\n\r\nIn other words, millennials who fail to invest won\u2019t have enough money to retire. Instead, they\u2019ll need to continue working indefinitely, subsist on government assistance and social security, or shack up with their own kids in old age.\r\nRetirement: It\u2019s the End Game\r\nIf you\u2019re a millennial, you might find those ideas preposterous, or even hilarious. But don\u2019t start laughing yet. Here are a few facts from the National Council on Aging that you might want to chew on:\r\n\r\nAccording to the NCOA and various government agencies:\r\n\u2022 23 million Americans over 60 are already living in poverty\r\n\u2022 75 percent of those 65+ rely on social security alone\r\n\u2022 One-third of senior households lives paycheck to paycheck\r\n\u2022 In 2012, the average credit card debt among adults aged 65+ was $9,283\r\n\u2022 14% of adults aged 65+ face retirement with negative net worth\r\n\r\nWhen you look at what actually happens to people who don\u2019t save or invest enough to enjoy a comfortable retirement, it isn\u2019t so funny. In fact, the idea of living in your son\u2019s basement at 70 stops being hilarious the moment you realize that it\u2019s not only possible, but actually likely.\r\n\r\nAnd maybe it\u2019s just me, but spending retirement in poverty sounds a whole lot worse than being 25 and having student loan debt and a job you hate. Because, no matter what, you still have time. You have time to stop and think \u2013 time to make a change. Time to tackle your student loan debt with fervor. Time to get a second or third job. Time to go back to school, finish your degree, write a book, or improve yourself in a multitude of ways.\r\n\r\nYour future self doesn\u2019t have that privilege. When you\u2019re 75 and subsisting on frozen Hungry Mans, it\u2019s the end game. You\u2019re stuck with whatever future you, yourself designed. And if you happen to look around and think \u201cthis sucks\u201d in old age, you\u2019ll only have yourself to blame.\r\nThe Investing Advice Every Millennial Needs to Hear\r\nAnd that\u2019s why it\u2019s more important than ever to start investing as soon as you can. You may think you can\u2019t afford to, but the truth is, you can\u2019t afford not to. Your future depends on what you do here and now, and your \u201cfuture self\u201d is begging \u2013 pleading \u2013 for you to take action not just now, but yesterday.\r\n\r\nThe internet is a treasure trove for those who want to learn investing basics. Meanwhile, Personal Capital offers free tools that can help you monitor your spending, net worth, and growing portfolio of investments. You may not have a lot to start with, but you have to start somewhere. Whether you choose to start by socking away $50 or $100 a month at first, investing in your company 401(k) up to the match, or opening a traditional or Roth IRA with a brokerage firm, it\u2019s essential that you take that first step. Because, no matter what, no one can take it for you.\r\n\r\nWhen you\u2019re in your twenties, you think the world is something that happens to you. You wake up each day with the goal of doing the best you can with what you have; you react to your surroundings. You shrink at opportunity. You see maybe one or two years out, or perhaps five years or a decade, but you just can\u2019t picture yourself as a little old lady, no matter how hard you try.\r\n\r\nBut the years will creep by faster the older you get, and soon you\u2019ll look back and wonder where the time went. And if you think investing is hard now, just wait a while. The longer you sit idle, more impossible the idea of retirement will become.\r\n\r\nSo here it is, the investing advice every millennial needs to hear:\r\n\r\nDon\u2019t use student loans or anything you hear on the 24-hour news cycle as an excuse not to save or invest for your future. Sixty years from now, nothing will matter except for what you did with the resources you had.\r\n\r\nYou have more power and potential than you realize, but time goes by much faster than you think.