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Three Simple Tips to Contribute the Maximum to Your 401(k)

Three Simple Tips to Contribute the Maximum to Your 401(k)

Maxing out your 401(k) sounds like an impossibility to most people. In fact, a recent survey showed just 9 percent of people saved the maximum contribution of $18,500 and $24,500 for those 50 and up during 2017, according to Fidelity Investments, which has 15.3 million participants in its retirement plans.

But it’s not as challenging as you might think if you’re prepared to make some sacrifices now in order to have the best retirement possible later.

Of the 1,500 people surveyed:

  • 44 percent said they deal with high amounts of work-related stress, working harder than they’d like in order to save more
  • 40 percent said they don’t travel as much as they’d like
  • 39 percent said they drive an older car
  • 33 percent said they own a modest home

Of course, a higher income helps you save more. For survey respondents, the average income was a pretty hefty $155,000, but a quarter made just $75,000.

In order to save more, here are three manageable tips, per USA Today:

1. Take it slowly: Start by saving, then increase your rate when you get raises and whenever it’s feasible. “Doing it little by little and being really consistent is the way to get there,” Hester says. Fidelity found that almost 3 percent of millennials have maxed out their 401(k), compared with nearly 16 percent of 60- to 64-year-olds.

2. Choose automation over budgeting: The Principal survey found that 70 percent of retirement super-savers don’t use a budget. If you automate your savings, it’s out of your hands. “Then, you don’t have to use willpower,” Hester says.

3. Believe in your money smarts: One reason many people don’t tackle financial goals is they lack confidence when it comes to money, according to another Principal survey. Often, “the amount of income or the amount of debt is not what’s driving people to postpone taking action around finances,” Patterson says. “It’s really around whether they have confidence.”