Need to increase your contributions to your retirement plan? Here’s how.

Saving for retirement is important. But let’s face it, it’s not always an easy or fun thing.

To consistently fund a 401(k) or IRA, you’ll probably have to give up something. That something could be a nicer car, a well-deserved vacation, or home maintenance that you would like to outsource.

But the reality is that planning for retirement with only Social Security is a bad idea. These benefits will only replace about 40% of your salary if you have an average income, and most seniors need 70% to 80% of their pre-retirement income to properly manage their expenses.

This is especially true these days given soaring inflation. In fact, many seniors who currently derive all or most of their income from Social Security are struggling financially due to higher costs at the pump, supermarket, and just about everywhere. But those with savings to exploit undoubtedly fare better.

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If your retirement savings aren’t progressing the way you expect, you’re in good company. In a recent Paychex investigation, 73% of workers agreed they should save more for retirement. But 79% also said they couldn’t afford to increase their 401(k) or IRA contributions.

If that’s the boat you’re in, you may have more options for increasing your savings than you think. Here are a few to explore.

1. Be sure to claim your complete 401(k) correspondence

Are you contributing enough to your 401(k) to take full advantage of your employer matching program? This is probably the easiest thing you can do to increase your savings, so see what your matching incentive looks like and redirect your spending as needed to get that full match.

Maybe your employer matches 100% of contributions up to $3,000, and you currently contribute $2,400 to your 401(k). If you manage to increase your contributions by just $50 per month, you will effectively double that effort by claiming your full match.

2. Get a scramble

The gig economy is booming these days, so there are plenty of flexible side jobs that could provide you with a nice boost in income. And since it’s money you’re not used to living on, you should, in theory, be able to use all of it to fund your retirement savings.

Remember that if you put money into a 401(k) or a traditional IRA, your contributions are made on a pre-tax basis. So if you earn $2,000 from side work, you can put all of that $2,000 into your retirement plan.

3. Give up a little thing (or more, if you wish)

You may have heard that forgoing store-bought coffee every day will help you become a millionaire in retirement. That’s probably not true. But giving up a little luxury could help you increase your savings significantly.

Imagine you decide to start making your own coffee, freeing up $50 a month for your retirement savings. If you slip an extra $600 into your 401(k) or IRA this year, leave that money alone for 30 years and invest it with an average annual return of 8% (which is a bit below the stock market average ), you increase your nest egg by $6,000.

Granted, you might think that $6,000 isn’t a ton of money in the grand scheme of retirement. And to be fair, it’s not. But it’s the impact of just cutting a expense for a year. And if you’re willing to cut your expenses further over one or more years, the impact could be much greater.

It’s important to have an income outside of Social Security when you retire. If your nest egg needs work, follow these tips to grow your savings and avoid long-term financial stress.

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