Have you passed this milestone on your way to financial security?

Golden eggs in a nest

Here’s something most successful savers ultimately do.

They make the maximum contribution to their employer’s 401(k) plan every year.

Reaching that point is a critical milestone in almost everyone’s effort to build financial security for themselves and their families.

These defined-contribution retirement plans allow your savings to grow tax-free until you need it, and they provide one of the two biggest tax breaks available to middle-income Americans (the mortgage deduction is the other).

The 401(k) contribution limit this year is $17,500 for workers under 50 and $23,000 if you're 50 or older.

Almost no one starts out making the maximum contribution. The trick is to put a little more and a little more into your retirement account each year until you hit the ceiling.

Looking for an interim goal?

Most employers will match at least a portion, if not all, of your contributions up to a certain percentage of your annual earnings.

So make sure you’re putting enough in your retirement account to collect every penny your company’s willing to add.

For example, let's say your employer matches half of your contributions up to 6% of your salary — a common match.

Every time you put in a dollar, they automatically add 50 cents.

If you make $50,000 a year, they'll put in up to $3,000 (6% of your salary).

Of course, in order to get that $3,000, you'll need to contribute $6,000.

But that's a small price to pay for what's essentially free money.

Maxing out your defined-contribution plan is a great milestone on the way toward financial security, but it's not all you need to do.

There are all kinds of ways to make sure you have a comfortable nest egg.

Want more tips on increasing your retirement savings? Check out our 10 secrets to successfully save for retirement.

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