Call your benefits department at work and talk to a benefits manager about signing up for the 401(k) (if you haven't already), contributing more to your 401(k) (if you're not maxing out), opening a flexible spending account to use pretax dollars for health care, daycare, and transportation to and from work, and making sure you're in the right health plan for you.
You may not be able to make any changes immediately, but let the manager know that these are your goals. And ask her to give you a call to make sure you're doing everything correctly when the time you're allowed to make changes rolls around.
Map to a Million
Pay for $2,000 in health care, child or elder care, and transportation with pretax dollars (28 percent tax bracket).
Annual savings: $560
20-year savings: $29,253
30-year savings: $73,160
* Assumes savings are tax-deferred and invested at an 8 percent return
Do it, say this, and sound smart: "Thank goodness for my 401(k). The money comes out of my paycheck before I can spend it. So every time I get a raise I kick in a little more."