Like a lot of worthwhile endeavors, retirement is more of a marathon than a sprint. If you take the right steps, it may be possible to make the marathon just a little bit shorter. Here are three of our top ideas for saving the most you can so you can quit work and move on to the post-career portion of your life.

Start early and take advantage of compound interest

Retirement is one of those things where if you build the habit of starting early it makes a big difference. That’s because of the power of compound interest to maximize your savings over time. Here’s how it works: As your savings increases, the interest on that money grows proportionately and then becomes added to that first amount. The larger total then generates more interest. That ultimately means that the more you can invest at an earlier age, the better off you’re retirement balances will be.

Starting early isn’t always the easiest thing to do especially if there doesn’t seem to be enough money for everything you want. Even if you don’t feel like you have surplus funds to set aside, see what you can manage. Every little bit will help. You can also look at automating your savings so that a specific amount is regularly taken out of your paycheck or bank account. After a while, you probably won’t notice it is missing and you’ll have started building for your retirement future.

Take advantage of employer-sponsored retirement plans

If your employer offers a company match as part of a retirement plan, invest your retirement savings there before you do anything else. Their contribution is basically free money which can add up over time providing a substantial boost to your savings and increasing the effect of compound interest on your nest egg. How high can this amount reach? Often companies will match fifty percent of every dollar you choose to put into their plan. Some will even match the entire amount.

It is in your best interest to become familiar with the details of your employer’s plan so you can manage your participation efficiently. Start by understanding the limits of your employer’s obligation to match your contributions. Most plan sponsors limit this matching to a selected percentage of your income and the match ends after you’ve invested a pre-determined amount of your earnings. This can work in a couple of ways. Some companies that match half of each dollar of your contribution may limit this cap at 6 percent of your income, while others that match 100 percent of your contribution may limit the cap to 3 percent. These amounts can also change based on your income so individuals with lower incomes are authorized to invest a higher percentage of their earnings and still receive a match. In any case, professionals often recommend that employees automate their savings and invest an amount that reaches the limit of their company match.

Look for ways to save more

If you’re searching for ways you can set aside retirement funds we’ve got answers. There are a few time tested, highly effective things that you can do to change your situation: Pay down debt, try to increase your earnings with small side jobs, and see what you can reduce in your budget. Sure, these three things are pretty boring and require discipline, but they work. Really well. If you need help with either freeing up funds or deciding on how to build your nest egg, you don’t have to go it alone. Enlist the help of a financial service professional to help you make your retirement dreams a reality.