At this point, it's a pretty well-known point that Social Security cuts may be on the table. And even if lawmakers manage to prevent them, the reality is that retiring on Social Security alone is far from ideal.

Without benefit cuts, Social Security will replace about 40% of your income, assuming you earn an average wage. Most seniors need about twice that much income to maintain a comfortable lifestyle while also keeping up with their bills, from housing to healthcare to everything in between.

That's why it's so important to consistently fund a retirement savings plan while you're working. But recent data from Bank of America finds that 26% of 401(k) plan participants contribute 3% of their salaries or less to their long-term savings. And if you're part of that statistic, you may want to rethink your approach to building a nest egg.

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A 3% contribution rate might leave you short

It's one thing to contribute 3% of your salary toward retirement savings when you're brand new to the workforce and have limited financial resources to work with. At that stage of life, you might also be grappling with credit card balances, educational debt, and other financial challenges.

But once you're past the newbie stage of your career, it's important to prioritize your 401(k), or whatever retirement plan you're saving in. And it's essential that you try to push yourself to save beyond the 3% of your salary mark.

In fact, as a general rule of thumb, your goal should be to sock away 15% to 20% of your annual income for retirement. That means that if you earn $100,000, you should be parting with $15,000 to $20,000 a year if you can swing it.

Now that may be a pretty big "if." And to be fair, for well over a year, inflation has been soaring, and that's been making it very difficult for workers to cover their essential bills, let alone allocate extra money for retirement savings purposes.

But if you don't push yourself to save more than 3% of your income, you might end up with a nest egg you're not happy with at all. And that could mean struggling throughout retirement instead of enjoying your senior years.

It's also worth noting that only saving 3% of your salary could, in some cases, mean missing out on a partial 401(k) match from your employer. Some companies are willing to match worker contributions beyond the 3% mark, and if you don't step up your savings rate, you'll leave free money on the table.

Don't set yourself up to struggle

Let's imagine you earn $100,000 a year and only sock away $3,000 a year for retirement over a 40-year period. Assuming an average annual 8% return in your 401(k), which is a bit below the stock market's average, that leaves you with a balance of about $777,000.

At first, that might seem like a lot of money. But remember, you want access to $70,000 to $80,000 a year in retirement if you're used to living on $100,000. If you withdraw from a balance of $777,000 at 4% a year, that's just $31,000. To get to 70% of your former income, you'd need $40,000 a year from Social Security, which you may not get -- especially with benefit cuts being on the table.

And so it really pays to try to save beyond that 3% mark. You may not be able to go from that to saving 15% or 20% right away. But if you make an effort to work your way up, you might end up a lot happier once your career comes to an end.