Save for Retirement?

Question: Chris - How much should someone save for retirement if they do not plan on retiring? I love my job and I plan on working well into my 70s as long as I have no health issues. I'm 50 now and have a modest retirement portfolio. Dave, St. Paul, MN

Answer: Don't think "retirement." Think a "margin of safety" and "flexibility." What you're trying to do by saving is maintain your current standard of living throughout your lifetime. Savings gives you a margin of safety if your job vaporizes when your older and harder to employ or if your health deteriorates.

Maybe you don't want to retire, but perhaps you'd like to change careers, try something else. A financial cushion allows you to do that easily. Perhaps you'll decide when your older that what you really desire is travel the world for three years. Well, with savings you can.

What's the right number? Realistically, most people can set aside 10% to 15% of their income with good habits and by taking advantage of savings vehicles like 401(k)s. Depending on your wealth, health, and dreams you could be more or less aggressive than that. But it's a good benchmark to start with.

About the author

Chris Farrell is the economics editor of Marketplace Money.

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