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3 retirement moves you can make in an hour to help you save thousands

The Motley Fool logo The Motley Fool 4 days ago Katie Brockman

Only 28% of baby boomers believe they're doing a good job of preparing for retirement, according to a report from the Insured Retirement Institute.

Although many workers know they should be doing more to save for the future, that's often easier said than done. When you have a long list of bills and other financial responsibilities to take care of, saving for retirement may not be one of your top priorities.

However, saving more doesn't need to require a lot of effort. In fact, there are a few money moves that take just a few minutes but can have a significant effect on your finances.

1. Set up automatic retirement fund contributions

Setting your savings on autopilot is one of the easiest ways to stash more cash for retirement. When you set aside a certain amount of money every week, every month, or with every paycheck to go toward your retirement account, you never have to remember to save. When retirement saving becomes effortless, it's easier to ensure you're saving consistently.

Another benefit of automatic contributions is that you can more easily prioritize saving. If you wait until the end of the month to save any scraps you have left after paying all your bills, it's more tempting to only save a little or nothing at all. But when you save the same amount month after month, all of a sudden saving becomes an important part of your budget.

You don't have to save hundreds or thousands of dollars every month to see a significant effect on your savings, either. Thanks to compound interest, your money grows faster the longer it sits in your retirement fund. So saving a little bit consistently can still help you save as much (or even more) than saving a lot sporadically.

Most 401(k) plans allow you to contribute a set amount each paycheck, or you can also save a certain percentage of your income. If you're saving in an IRA, you can set up your contributions so that you're transferring a certain amount from your bank account to your retirement fund every week, every month, or however often you choose.

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2. Start using an app that can track your spending

If you're having trouble finding cash to put toward your savings, tracking your spending can help. Approximately 60% of Americans say they're living paycheck to paycheck, according to a survey from Charles Schwab. And yet that same survey also found that the average person spends nearly $500 per month on non-essential costs.

In other words, many Americans believe they're broke when in reality, they may not realize exactly how much they're spending.

Once you start tracking where all your money is going, it will become easier to prioritize your expenses and save more. Sometimes it's tough to tell whether you're overspending in certain areas of your budget. But once all your expenses are mapped out in front of you, you'll get a clearer picture of what costs are truly necessary and which ones you can reduce or eliminate -- and then reallocate that money to your retirement fund.

The best part is that there are several apps that can track your spending for you, so it becomes an effortless task.

3. Increase your savings rate by just 1%

Because saving for retirement takes decades, small changes now can have an enormous effect down the road. So if you're looking to supercharge your long-term savings, it's easier than you may think.

Sometimes all it takes is boosting your savings rate by just a few hundred dollars per year to save tens of thousands of dollars more by retirement age. For example, if you're currently 35 years old and earning a salary of around $60,000 per year, increasing your retirement fund contribution rate by just 1% can increase your total savings by approximately $85,500 by age 67, according to research from Fidelity Investments.

You can stand to see even better results if you consistently increase your savings rate year after year. If you're currently saving 10% of your salary, for instance, bump it up to 11% next year, then 12% after that. You may only be saving an extra $10 or $20 per month, but after a few years, you'll have increased your savings substantially. And because the adjustments are so gradual, you won't feel as if you're making huge sacrifices to save more -- but your long-term savings will skyrocket.

Saving more for retirement isn't always easy, but it's also not as difficult as it may seem. These money moves may not require much effort on your part, but they can help you save thousands more for the future.

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