Some of us dream about traveling. Others look forward to reading books, visiting grandkids and tending to gardens. But there's one thing that unites our respective retirement dreams: the need for money.
How much? As a general rule, financial experts recommend individuals amass enough to replace at least 70 percent of their pre-retirement income once they retire. For someone who makes $50,000 per year, that's $35,000.
Others push that figure higher. When the Employee Benefit Research Institute polled retirees, 55 percent of them said they needed an annual income equivalent to 95 percent of their pre-retirement earnings.
If you expect money to come from Uncle Sam, you're in for a disappointment. These days, Social Security typically replaces 40 percent of workers' pre-retirement income, according to the National Academy of Social Insurance, a nonpartisan policy group.
Tools for retirement planning
That means it's up to you to save. Even if you intend to live like a monk, be aware it's not the fun stuff -- like endless golf rounds -- that adds up; health care expenses drive up retirement costs for most people.
The bottom line: The more you save, the more stable and happy your retirement will be, whether you're jetting off to Rome or pruning petunias at home.