Saving for a secure retirement can take sacrifice. After all, when you're faced with pressing expenses today, it can be hard to take the long view and invest for something that's 20 or 30 years down the line.
The good news is, there are some options to easily increase the amount you are saving for the future.
In fact, here are three techniques that could help you add quite a bit to your retirement account balance either this year or over time -- without a lot of extra effort on your part.
1. Bank your raises
One of the single easiest ways to effortlessly increase your retirement savings is to commit your salary increases toward boosting your investments.
See, chances are good that your budget and spending are based on your current income. When your earnings increase, there's no reason to immediately up your expenditures to eat up the extra money. Instead, just continue living exactly as you have been.
The extra money from your salary bump can immediately be diverted into savings before you get even a single larger paycheck. You can't possibly miss the money since you aren't used to having it in the first place. And you won't have to make any extra sacrifices or spending cuts since you didn't have the extra cash beforehand.
Ideally, you should divert the entire amount of any salary increase to retirement savings by increasing your 401(k) contributions or automatic contributions to other tax-advantaged retirement accounts. If you really don't feel like you can do that because you need the raise to offer some extra breathing room in your budget, set a goal to bank at least half of it.
2. Take advantage of your full employer match
If you have a 401(k) at work, chances are good your employer provides at least some matching contributions.
This would mean when you contribute, they do as well. The specific rules for how much they'll match varies by company, but you should always invest enough to claim your full match.
This technique effortlessly allows you to increase the amount you're investing since your employer is just handing you some of the cash you're putting away. If your employer matches 100% of your contributions up to a specific percent of your salary, every dollar you personally put into your account will immediately turn into $2 until you hit your matching limit.
3. Invest your stimulus check if you don't need it for immediate bills
Most Americans have received government stimulus money recently. There were two stimulus check bills signed into law by President Donald Trump in 2020. And President Joe Biden signed another stimulus bill in March of 2021 providing $1,400 payments to eligible individuals including adults and all their dependents.
If you're behind on bills, in danger of falling behind, or don't have an emergency fund, addressing these issues should be the first priority with your check. But if that's not the case, investing the stimulus cash is a great option -- and an effortless way to end up with more retirement funds.
If you have an IRA or other-tax advantaged retirement plan with a brokerage firm, it should be easy to deposit your stimulus payment directly into it. But if you have a 401(k), it's a little trickier since you'd need to temporarily increase the contributions that come out of your paycheck.
You can do the math on how much your stimulus check will be and how much to increase the amount withdrawn from your checks, and ask your plan administrator to take care of this for you.