The Retirement Savings Menu: A Visual Take on How Much You Should Save

Last Updated Aug 12, 2010 10:44 AM EDT

As an actuary, I'm a numbers guy. In my spare time, I play with online retirement calculators and read about strategies for making your money last for life. Kinda' like Scotty in Star Trek, who read engineering manuals during his time off.

But most people aren't like me, and they don't necessarily take action steps based on facts, figures, and analysis. For many, seeing is believing -- and pictures have a greater impact on their decision-making than mere numbers. So if that's you, I'm here to help.

Here's a different take on figuring out how much you should save for retirement. What will you be eating and drinking in retirement? You'll find out by sampling the Retirement Savings Menu.

Save Nothing, and Here's What Your Retirement Diet Looks Like

Save 5 Percent of Your Pay, And Your Diet Improves a Little

Save 10 Percent of Your Pay, and Life Starts Looking Good

Save 15 Percent of Your Pay, and Now You're Cooking! (pardon the pun)

Get the picture?

Hopefully these images will motivate you to actually do the math to calculate how much to save for your retirement. I highly recommend using an online retirement calculator for this task; below I've listed some good posts on CBS MoneyWatch that will get you started.

More on CBS MoneyWatch
Retirement Calculator Roundup: Top Tools for Boomers
Top Tips for Using Retirement Calculators
How to Choose the Right Retirement Calculator for You
Images from iStockphoto

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    Steve Vernon helped large employers design and manage their retirement programs for more than 35 years as a consulting actuary. Now he's a research scholar for the Stanford Center on Longevity, where he helps collect, direct and disseminate research that will improve the financial security of seniors. He's also president of Rest-of-Life Communications, delivers retirement planning workshops and authored Money for Life: Turn Your IRA and 401(k) Into a Lifetime Retirement Paycheck and Recession-Proof Your Retirement Years.