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Top 7 Hacks for Saving More for Retirement

Worrying about having enough retirement savings can keep you up at night. If you’ve barely put anything away, it’s easy to panic or give up on saving altogether. But there’s a third option: You can find ways to funnel a few extra bucks into your 401(k) account or your IRA. If you’re ready to put more effort into saving, here are seven easy ways to fill your retirement accounts.

Find out now: How much do I need to save for retirement?

1. Save the Money You Didn’t Expect to Receive

You can easily save for retirement by socking away the money you didn’t expect to have. If your tax refund was larger than you thought it would be or your boss gave you a bonus, you can stick that extra money into a retirement account.

Got $25 in a birthday card from your parents? Found $20 tucked away in a coat pocket? That’s more cash you can use to boost your savings.

2. Ignore Your Raise

Top 7 Hacks for Saving More for Retirement

Getting a raise is great. But more money can equal more problems if you’re spending most of it on useless stuff.

Unless you’re buried in debt or you’re living on a tiny budget, it’s a good idea to save as much as you can whenever your income increases. Even if your salary is just 1% or 2% higher, that additional income can have a significant impact on the size of your nest egg.

3. Save Your Change

Do you normally pay in cash instead of whipping out a debit or credit card? If so, you probably have extra money sitting on your dresser or buried at the bottom of your purse. Loose change may not seem that important. But when you’re trying to save for retirement, every penny, nickel and dime matters.

Related Article: 3 Easy Ways to Boost Your Retirement Income

4. Fund Your Retirement With Credit Card Rewards

If you use them wisely, reward credit cards can help you save money. If you’ve got a card that gives you cash back, you can use that extra money to pad your savings accounts. For example, if your card offers 3% cash back and you charge $20,000 a year, you’ll end up with $600 that you could put into your IRA.

5. Bump up Your 401(k) Contributions

Having a 401(k) can make saving for retirement easy, especially if your employer matches your contributions. Increasing your contribution rate by just 1% each year can yield big results in the long run.

Check out our 401(k) calculator.

6. Switch to Low-Fee Investments

Top 7 Hacks for Saving More for Retirement

High investment fees can keep you from meeting your savings goals. Actively managed funds tend to have higher expense ratios than passively managed funds. So if someone else has control over your investment accounts, you could be wasting money unnecessarily on management fees.

Investing in exchange-traded funds instead of actively managed mutual funds can minimize the toll that management fees take on your retirement savings.

7. Snowball Your Savings

You may have heard of the debt snowball technique. It involves knocking out debt by paying off your smallest debts first and working your way up until everything is paid off. You can implement a similar strategy when preparing for retirement.

You can beef up your savings by starting small and increasing your savings rate over time. For example, if you budget $400 for groceries but you only spend $380, you can stick the extra $20 in your retirement account. Eventually, you can take things up a notch by finding ways to cut back on expenses so that you can save more.

Steps to Take to Get Retirement Ready

  • Figure out how much you’ll need to save to retire comfortably. An easy way to get ahead on saving for retirement is by taking advantage of employer 401(k) matching.
  • Work with a financial advisor. According to industry experts, people who work with a financial advisor are twice as likely to be on track to meet their retirement goals. A matching tool like SmartAsset’s SmartAdvisor can help you find a person to work with to meet your needs. First you’ll answer a series of questions about your situation and goals. Then the program will narrow down your options from thousands of advisors to up to three registered investment advisors who suit your needs. You can then read their profiles to learn more about them, interview them on the phone or in person and choose who to work with in the future. This allows you to find a good fit while the program does much of the hard work for you.

Photo credit: ©iStock.com/AndreyPopov, ©iStock.com/twinsterphoto, ©iStock.com/tuk69tuk

Rebecca Lake Rebecca Lake has been writing about the nuts and bolts of personal finance for nearly a decade. She is an expert in investing, retirement and home buying topics. Her work has been featured on The Huffington Post, Business Insider, CBS News, U.S. News & World Report and Investopedia. As a homeschooling mom of two, she's always looking for ways to make the most of every dollar.
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