Don’t walk away from free money
Many employers match a portion of their workers' contributions into a retirement plan to encourage employees to prepare for retirement. For example, your employer may contribute a dollar for each dollar you save, up to 6% of your total salary. When you're deciding how much to contribute, missing the match by just a percentage point or two can make a big difference in your total savings.
A few dollars makes a difference
If you think you can't afford to contribute to your employer plan, consider this: Increasing your retirement plan contributions may help lower your overall taxable income.
For example, if you earn $50,000 per year and start to contribute $100 per week, your paycheck will be $75 less (assuming you are in the 25% federal tax bracket).
Finding money to save for retirement
If you're finding it difficult to cover your everyday expenses and also save for the future, you have options. Check out TIAA's online insights about managing your money. Also, the TIAA-CREF budget worksheet can help get you started tracking your income and spending, and finding ways to free up funds for retirement.
Saving any amount in your retirement plan to receive your employer match is better than missing out entirely. Also, try to save more of your salary over time — for example, when you get a raise. You'll likely see your retirement savings grow.