Millions of Americans are struggling financially during the COVID-19 crisis -- specifically, those who have lost work or income since the pandemic took hold. But not everyone is in a tight spot financially these days. In fact, a recent TD Ameritrade survey found that plenty of people are saving money by virtue of being stuck at home, and 20% of millennials say their household budget has been positively impacted over the past few weeks.

Some Americans are saving money right now

Social distancing may not be fun, but it can lead to substantial savings. For example, 78% of Americans are spending less by not going out to eat, with an average savings of $245 as a result. Meanwhile, 75% are saving money by not going on vacation, pocketing $1,411 on average.

Here are some other ways Americans are saving:

Spending Category

Percentage of Americans Saving

Average Amount Saved




Beauty/personal care






Sporting/music events




If your spending has decreased substantially in recent weeks because, well, you really have no choice but to stay home, there's one silver lining: You can use that money to boost your retirement plan and set yourself up for a solid future.

Man with pained expression on couch holding TV remote


Use your near-term savings to fund your IRA or 401(k)

The fact that you can't spend money on certain things, like restaurants or concerts, may be a huge disappointment right now. But it does give you an opportunity to seamlessly fund your IRA or 401(k).

Imagine that all told, you spend $2,000 less during the pandemic than you normally would. If you're behind on emergency savings, you should absolutely stick that money in the bank. But if your emergency fund is solid, and you put that $2,000 into your IRA or 401(k), you may be surprised at how much of a boost it gives your savings. In fact, here's a rundown of what that $2,000 might grow into, depending on how many years you have between now and retirement:

If Retirement Is This Many Years Away

Your $2,000 Contribution Will Grow Into This Amount if Your Investments Deliver a 7% Average Annual Return












What this means is that if you're 27 years old, your single $2,000 IRA or 401(k) contribution could grow into nearly $30,000 by the time you turn 67. That's huge.

Of course, these numbers assume a 7% average yearly return on investment, but that's doable if you load up stocks in your retirement plan, since that 7% is a few percentage points below the stock market's average. And if you're at least 10 years away from retirement, you absolutely should be going heavy on stocks for maximum growth, especially since you have plenty of time to ride out downturns.

Let's face it: We'd all rather be in a position where we could roam freely, socialize at restaurants with friends, and get a haircut without giving it much thought. But since we're stuck in pandemic mode for the foreseeable future, you might as well take the opportunity to give your retirement plan a solid boost. That way, you'll be able to point to one positive thing that comes out of this extremely trying period.