Future Healthy: Increase retirement savings (without ruining your short-term plans)

Saving for retirement is one of the most important things you can do for your future. But if you're struggling to get by, or you have short-term goals you're working toward, it can be tough to set more aside for something that's decades away.

Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to increase your retirement savings without sacrificing your lifestyle now. Here are five to consider.

Increase your contributions when you get a raise

The average salary raise in 2019 is projected to be 3.2%, according to the Society for Human Resource Management. If you raise your retirement contributions by just 1% each year, you likely won't miss it.

And remember, money contributed to a 401(k) or traditional IRA is deductible. So, if you contribute $100 per month, that's money you're not being taxed on, giving you more savings.

Use windfalls

It's not likely that you'll get a big inheritance from a parent or other family member. But there are plenty of opportunities to make big contributions to your retirement without making it a part of your budget at all.

For example, the average tax refund is $2,825, according to the latest data from the IRS. And depending on your job, you may get a performance bonus once or twice a year. While it's nice to use this extra money to buy more things, contributing at least part of it to an individual retirement account can make a big difference over time.

Dig into your budget

If you're not already on a budget, creating one is one of the best things to do. Having a monthly budget and tracking your expenses helps you understand where your money. It also gives you the chance to prioritize how you spend it.

Take the time to create a budget based on your income and expenses, and target some areas where you can cut back to make more room for retirement savings. You don't need to stop spending on things you don't need entirely, but it can help if you redirect a little money each month toward future goals.

Look at your deductions and withholdings

If you haven't taken a look at your paycheck lately, you may be surprised at how much money goes toward taxes and other deductions. Then talk to your payroll manager to see if there are opportunities to reduce those and contribute them to a 401(k) or IRA instead.

For example, if you get a massive tax refund every year, it's because your tax withholdings are too high. By adjusting them, you can increase your net pay, giving you more money to save for retirement.

The same goes if you have an expensive health insurance plan that you rarely use. If you can downgrade it while still feeling uncomfortable with the lower coverage level, you can save that money instead.

Get help

There are plenty of investment companies and apps out there that can help you save more for retirement without breaking the bank.

Acorns, for instance, rounds up each purchase you make with a connected credit or debit card, and contributes the round-up amounts to your investment account. While that amounts to pennies on every transaction you make, it can add up fast.

Saving for retirement is essential to your financial plan, but that doesn't mean it's going to be easy. As you consider these and other ways to save more for retirement, you'll have more peace of mind knowing that you're closer to your goal.

Whether it's for covering medical expenses, or planning bigger investments, our Future Healthy column will help support your path to retirement, no matter where you are on the journey. And for the latest info about your health and financial wellness, be sure to check out our HSA Learning Center, and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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