Get on track for retirement
Get on track for retirement
Time it takes: 15 minutes or less

Yes, you really can devise a smart savings plan for retirement in just a quarter of an hour. The potential reward is huge: A survey by banking giant HSBC found that people who have even a rudimentary plan for reaching retirement goals are ending up with up to three times as much money as those without one.

Step one: Figure out your monthly savings target by filling in basic info like your projected retirement age and current savings rate at T. Rowe Price's Retirement Income Calculator ( Time needed: five minutes.

Step two: Coming up short? Use the remaining 10 minutes to pump up your 401(k) contributions on your plan's website. If you can't put away as much as the calculator recommends, commit to automatically increasing the amount you're saving at the time of your raise; half of large employers offer this feature, according to Aon Hewitt.

Small change, big impact

Financial experts recommend saving at least 10% of income a year for retirement. Sound impossible? Increase your savings by just one percentage point a year until you get there and you'll hardly feel a pinch. Below you can see the difference over time, assuming you start with the average 7% contribution.

401(k) balance after 30 years on a $50,000 salary:

7% contribution: $685,700

Dialed-up contribution: $869,000

401(k) balance after 30 years on a $100,000 salary:

7% contribution: $1.4 million

Dialed-up contribution: $1.7 million

From the editors of Real-Simple and Money. Text by Stephanie AuWerter - Last updated November 30 2011: 6:39 PM ET
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