HERE IS SOME NEWS that isn’t news at all: Most Americans do a mediocre job of saving for the future. Consider three pieces of evidence:

  • Americans saved 8% of their after-tax disposable personal income in 2019, versus a 50-year average of 8.3%, reports the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis.
  • One out of three American families report having no savings at all, including one out of 10 families with incomes of more than $100,000, according to a 2015 study by the Pew Charitable Trusts.
  • A 2015 study by Financial Engines found that roughly a quarter of employees fail to contribute enough to their employer’s 401(k) retirement savings plan to get the full matching contribution, thus passing up the chance to get free money from their employer. Among participants in retirement plans overseen by Vanguard Group, a third don’t contribute enough to get the full match.

How can you get yourself on the right track? As we’ll discuss in the sections that follow, you might consider the many advantages of saving a healthy sum on a regular basis—and then nudge yourself to save more by employing a host of tricks.

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