10 secrets to successfully save for retirement

Sock away your windfalls

You're likely to get a financial windfall at some point in your life. One in four Americans, for example, expects to eventually receive an inheritance, according to our recent study.

If you get unexpected money from a relative or a bonus from work, play it smart. It could provide a huge positive financial impact in your life.

Start by using it to pay down any high-interest debt you may have. Then sock the rest away.

This is one of the few ways you have to make up for all of those years when you couldn't — or wouldn't — contribute as much as you should have to your IRA or 401(k) or other investment accounts. Think in terms of what that money could be later down the line.

If you average a 7% return on your portfolio, an extra $10,000 infusion could be worth $80,000 or more in 30 years.