Small savings add up. Even increasing the amount of money you save and invest by a tiny percentage can result in huge gains, if you do it on a consistent basis.
But don't take our word for it. Personal finance site NerdWallet crunched the numbers to determine just how much you could save if you upped your retirement savings by even one percentage point a year.
The chart below assumes a 6 percent annual investment return and that you start investing at age 22 and go through age 67. It also assumes your savings rate starts at 6 percent and grows one percentage point annually until a maximum of 20 percent.
The gains are impressive:
Here's how much money you'd have saved by 67 assuming a salary of:
With a 6 percent allocation: $551,199
With an increasing allocation: $1,364,292
Total difference in savings: $813,093
With a 6 percent allocation: $826,798
With an increasing allocation: $2,046,438
Total difference in savings: $1,219,640
With a 6 percent allocation: $1,102,397
With an increasing allocation: $2,728,584
Total difference in savings: $1,626,187
With a 6 percent allocation: $1,377,996
With an increasing allocation: $3,410,730
Total difference in savings: $2,032,734
With a 6 percent allocation: $1,653,595
With an increasing allocation: $4,092,876
Total difference in savings: $2,439,281
"A small increase in your savings rate every year can have a really stunning effect on the amount of money you end up with when you retire, no matter what your salary is," NerdWallet's retirement specialist Andrea Coombes tells CNBC Make It.
While 20 percent sounds like a high savings rate, "getting there one percentage point at a time makes it manageable." It'll also be more manageable if you make an effort to up your contributions whenever you get a bonus or raise, she notes.
Coombes continues: "For people who are closer to retirement and don't have as much time for compounding to work its magic on their savings, the trick is to increase their savings rate faster, if they can. Instead of one percentage point a year, try to bump it up by two or three points a year. … No matter what age or income level you're at, it makes sense to visit a retirement calculator to see if you're on track."
The easiest way to get in the habit of increasing your contributions consistently is to make it automatic.
Check online to see if you can set up "auto-increase," which allows you to choose the frequency and percentage by which you want your contributions to go up. This way, you won't forget to raise your contributions or talk yourself out of setting aside a larger chunk when the time comes.
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