Using a 401(k) plan to save for retirement is an attractive option: You get tax advantages, the funds are automatically taken out of your paycheck for you and sometimes your company even matches your contribution up to a certain amount, which is essentially free money.
Unfortunately, many Americans don't have access to this specific retirement tool.
If that's the case for you, don't stress. And don't use it as an excuse to put off saving for retirement. "I hear a lot of people say, 'I can't save for retirement because I don't have a 401(k). I'm screwed from the beginning,'" certified financial planner at Betterment Nick Holeman tells CNBC Make It. "But that's not the case. There are a lot of other account types out there."
Plus, "saving for retirement doesn't really depend on the account type that you use," he adds. "The most important thing is just for you to start saving early and often."
If you're self-employed, a freelancer or your company doesn't offer a 401(k) plan, here are other smart ways to build your nest egg: