10 secrets to successfully save for retirement

Take advantage of a Roth IRA

Whether or not you have a 401(k) through work, you should take advantage of a Roth IRA. It's one of the best savings vehicles for middle-class earners because it lets your money grow tax-free and be withdrawn tax-free in retirement.

Anyone who earns less than $114,000 a year ($181,000 for married couples) is eligible to contribute the maximum amount. Those who earn more can contribute reduced amounts. In 2014, you can contribute up to $5,500 per year ($6,500 if you're age 50 or older).

The potential to have $100,000, $250,000, $500,000 or more in tax-free money in your 60s is a huge boon to your retirement.

Another big advantage of a Roth is that contributions — but not capital gains, interest or dividends — can be withdrawn at any time for any reason without penalty. It's typically not something you would want to do. But in an extreme emergency, it's there for you.