2. Contribute to your 401(k)
If your employer offers a traditional 401(k) plan, it allows you to contribute pre-tax money, which can be a significant advantage. Say you’re in the 15% tax bracket and plan to contribute $100 per pay period. Since that money comes out of your paycheck before taxes are assessed, your take-home pay will drop by only $85. That means you can invest more of your income without feeling it as much in your monthly budget.Footnote 1 If your employer offers a Roth 401(k), which uses income after taxes rather than pre-tax funds, you should consider what your income tax bracket will be in retirement to help you decide whether this is the right choice for you. Even if you leave that employer, you have choices on Learn about what to do with your 401(k)
3. Meet your employer’s match
If your employer offers to match your 401(k) plan, make sure you contribute at least enough to take full advantage of the match, Greenberg says. For example, an employer may offer to match 50% of employee contributions up to 5% of your salary. That means if you earn $50,000 a year and contribute $2,500 to your retirement plan, your employer would kick in another $1,250. It’s essentially free money. Don’t leave it on the table.