A new report from the International Longevity Centre — UK (ILC-UK) finds that Americans should be saving at least 11 percent, ideally more like 20 percent, of their income if they want "to achieve an adequate retirement income," which it defines as 70 percent of your earnings throughout your working life.
That's a lot more than the typical American has socked away. According to the Economic Policy Institute, "nearly half of families have no retirement account savings at all."
Here are five strategies that will help you get to that 11 percent mark.
If you automate your retirement savings — meaning, you have a portion of your paycheck sent directly to a retirement account, such as a 401(k), Roth IRA or traditional IRA — you'll never even see the money you're setting aside and will learn to live without it.
As self-made millionaire David Bach writes in "The Automatic Millionaire," automating your finances is "the one step that virtually guarantees that you won't fail financially. … You'll never be tempted to skimp on savings because you won't even see the money going directly from your paycheck to your savings accounts."
Making automatic contributions to a retirement account is a good start, but you'll also want to get in the habit of increasing your contributions consistently, either every six months, at the end of the year or when you get a bonus or a raise.
Check online to see if you can set up "auto-increase," which allows you to choose the percentage you want to increase your contributions by and how often. This way, you won't forget to up your contributions, or talk yourself out of setting aside a larger chunk when the time comes.
If your company offers a 401(k) plan and matches contributions, take full advantage of it. It's essentially free money.
The way it works is, your company will match whatever contribution you put towards your 401(k) up to a certain amount. For example, if you choose to put four percent of your salary into your account, your employer will put that same amount in as well, in effect doubling your contribution.
But you only get their money if you put yours in first.
Whenever you come across any extra cash — a bonus, birthday check or small windfall — rather than blowing it on a new pair of shoes or vacation, send at least a chunk of it straight to savings.
To resist the temptation to spend any surplus money, deposit it right away, so you never even see it.
Check out six ways to make money without much effort.
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