Preparing for retirement isn't easy, and if you're falling behind on your savings, you're not alone.

The median retirement-account balance is just over $35,000, according to Vanguard's 2022 How America Saves report. Meanwhile, the average U.S. adult expects to need around $1.7 million to retire comfortably, according to a 2022 survey from Charles Schwab.

Fortunately, it's simpler than it might seem to supercharge your retirement savings. With the right strategy, you can increase your savings tenfold while barely lifting a finger. Here's how.

Two people sitting at a table looking at documents and a laptop.

Image source: Getty Images.

The secret to maximizing your savings

To build a robust nest egg, it's not enough to simply save. You'll need to invest.

The stock market can be daunting, especially during periods of volatility. But investing is one of the easiest and most effective ways to generate wealth, and you don't need to be well versed in the market to make a lot of money.

What you will need is a long-term outlook and the ability to invest consistently. Thanks to compound earnings, your money will grow exponentially the longer you leave it in the market. By simply investing a little each month and letting it sit for decades, you could easily accumulate hundreds of thousands of dollars or more.

For example, say you currently have an account balance of $10,000, and you're earning an 8% average annual return on your investments (which is just below the market's historical average return). Let's also say you're able to invest $200 per month. Here's roughly how much you could earn over time, depending on how many years you give your money to grow:

Number of Years Total Savings
20 $156,000
25 $244,000
30 $373,000
35 $561,000
40 $839,000

Data source: Author's calculations via

In this scenario, you'll have increased your original savings by 10 times in just under 20 years, simply by continuing to invest $200 per month.

If you're able to invest even more, your savings could skyrocket. For instance, if you were to invest $400 per month, all other factors remaining the same, you'd have over $1.4 million within 40 years.

The best investments to help you save

Not all investments are created equal, and where you choose to put your money will dramatically affect your earnings.

If you have access to a 401(k) or IRA, they might be the best places to start. Most retirement accounts offer a variety of mutual funds, and they require next to no effort on your part. All you have to do is invest consistently, then sit back and wait for your money to grow.

If you prefer a more hands-on approach, you might opt for individual stocks. These require more research than funds do, and they can also carry more risk. But they also have the potential to earn much higher-than-average returns over time.

Investing in individual stocks won't be the right fit for everyone. But if you're really looking to supercharge your savings and are willing to put in the time and effort to build a solid portfolio, they could be a fantastic option.

Saving for retirement can be especially difficult in times like these, but investing in the stock market can help you build a healthy nest egg. By investing consistently and keeping a long-term outlook, you can earn more than you might think.