Putting your savings strategy on autopilot is one sure-fire way to make certain that you're regularly stashing away money for retirement.
Financial advisors often suggest contributing to your 401(k) or other retirement savings plan at work as the first step in building your nest egg.
Yet many Americans don't do that. In fact, 20 percent of working Americans are failing to save any of their income – and one in six blame their job, according to a new study from Bankrate.com. Their lack of saving is not necessarily because they're undisciplined. It simply may take more effort than they're willing to give.
One of the obstacles: Their employer doesn't offer a 401(k). Employees would have to set up a retirement account on their own through a bank or investment firm.
About 57 million Americans have no access to a retirement savings plan through their employers, according to AARP. That's more than 50 percent of workers ages 18 to 64. Most of them — roughly 32 million — work at small businesses with fewer than 100 employees.
Oregon, along with other states, aims to decrease those numbers — by offering a retirement savings program that is the first of its kind in the country. Employees at small businesses throughout the Beaver State are being offered the chance to stash away a portion of their pay through a government-sponsored retirement plan, called "Oregon Saves."
The program requires employers who do not offer a 401(k) to automatically deduct 5 percent of an employee's wages after taxes and send it to their individual retirement account, or IRA. Workers can contribute a maximum of $5,500 a year. The plan is managed by the state and workers must opt-out if they don't want to participate. So far, many being given the chance to participate are doing it.
"We have about 5,500 people actively contributing to accounts at this point ," said Tobias Read, Oregon's state treasurer. "There are about 20,000 in the process, and we expect 1 million people who could potentially participate."
Chris Smyrl is a 32-year-old tap room manager at Reach Break Brewing in Astoria, Oregon.
He is now contributing 5 percent of his pay to his plan — it's the first time he has ever saved for retirement. "It's something that's always in the back of your mind ... and say 'Oh, I can always do that later,'" he said. "Now it's 'later.'"