The third week of October is National Save for Retirement Week, and that means it's prime time to embrace new and creative ways to add some more money to our retirement cash reserves.
One piece of news that raises the importance of diligence about retirement comes from the U.S. government. The Social Security Administration recently announced there will be no annual raise in Social Security benefits for 2016, giving Americans a stronger, short-term impetus for upping their retirement savings game.
The good news is there are myriad ways to find those funds, if you're willing to step out of your comfort zone to create that extra income.
Andrew Meadows, vice president of brand culture at San Francisco-based Ubiquity Retirement + Savings, says one area you can get creative with is cash flow.
"A lot of people are concerned that they aren't going to have enough saved for retirement, but you can always find ways to create additional income," Meadow notes. One idea from Meadows: get more involved in your community.
"Use your expertise to help with various small projects instead of doing day-to-day work," Meadows adds. "Alternatively, try doing some consultant work that doesn't feel like an ongoing job, but gives you the opportunity to talk about things you enjoy."
On the savings side, automate your savings account contributions, so you have no excuse, Meadows says. Also, increase any of your retirement savings plans, especially if you've received a raise or bonus in the last several months.
Another creative strategy - if you operate a part-time business or earn income from a board of director position, you can fund a SEP IRA, says Rick Bender, a financial advisor with Savant Capital Management in Rockford, Ill. "This would allow for another IRA account for the individual to defer taxes and draw from in the future," he says, adding that it's only possible for those who receive 1099 income.
Think small, too, as that can lead to larger accumulated retirement savings. "Have several rummage sales throughout the year and make contributions to your Roth IRA," Bender advises. Roth IRAs are after-tax accounts, so the contributions are not subject to penalty upon withdrawal in retirement.
It all adds up, Bender says. "If you can trim less than $3.00 a day in your daily budget annually, that will add up to more than $1,000 for your retirement accounts [over the course of a year," he says. "So maybe it is worth it to bring your coffee to work from home."
You can also get a "two-fer" on your retirement savings by stashing money into your 401(k).
The 2015 maximum 401(k) contribution is $18,000 (or $24,000 for those over 50), notes Taylor Schulte, founder of San Diego-based Define Financial. "If you haven't already done so, use the remaining time this year to max out your 401(k)," he says. "In addition to helping increase your account balance, maxing out those contributions can help reduce your taxable income."
In the end, the least sexy way to save for retirement is to automate your savings, but there's no reason you can't get creative with it, says Matt Cosgriff, a financial advisor at Minneapolis, Mn.-based Lifewise, a financial planning firm that caters to young professionals.
"For starters, open up a low-cost investment account and automate a weekly or even daily contribution to your account," he says. "It can be as little as $10 per day or $50 per week, which are likely small enough to go somewhat, if not entirely, unnoticed. You might find saving for retirement becomes very possible to make it a reality."
Betterment and Wealthfront, two of the most popular robo-advisor platforms, allow you to do all of this from your mobile device, which can help make automating your savings almost effortless, Cosgriff adds.
Take National Save For Retirement Week as a reminder there's always another way to add to your long-term savings portfolio. It may not seem like much now, but a little extra savings today can turn into a big addition to your retirement fund tomorrow.