Americans are now living longer than ever. If you make it to 65, you're likely to live on average to 88. So that means if you retire between 60 and 65, your money has to last for another entire generation.

Yet a recent Employee Benefit Research Institute survey shows only 2 out of every 100 workers say that saving for retirement is an important issue. And roughly a third of retirees live solely on a Social Security check.

Now, I get that if your financial house is burning, saving for retirement is not a priority. Though for many of us, it's just a matter of we're juggling different priorities and it seems like there's more month than money.

But just as you have to budget for your living expenses, your car, your food, I would say you should consider budgeting for the long-term future. Of course, it's completely optional. The whole concept of retirement has only been around for 150 years -- a blink of the eye in the span of human history.

If your life is a financial struggle, retirement savings has to be a no go out of necessity. But for everybody else, and that's 85% of us, retirement savings are something you should at least consider.

Again, saving for retirement is not mandatory. It's like the dentist telling you to floss; nobody holds gun to your head if you don't do it. Retirement savings is the same.

Some people over the years, including me, have advocated for mandatory retirement accounts. I recently read a piece written by Knight Kiplinger that spoke about the need for mandatory retirement accounts. They would be our accounts, but you have to pay into them. You can't tap the money for emergency loans, the only exception being permanent disability, under Knight's plan.

But again that's just one man's opinion, just as my opinion is just my own.

What saving for retirement buys you is freedom and choice, and it lets you decide what happens when you really want to bag it and not work anymore. Otherwise, people today will work much longer than they thought they would. Though that's not the worst thing in the world.

Again, this is not a guilt trip, this is a personal choice. Do you want to be 85 and working full time? If you love working, that's fine. But if you want to have the freedom to go volunteer, or improve your golf handicap, or sail around the world, or whatever, you have to create the freedom to make that choice.

Image of Clark Howard About the author: Clark Howard

Clark Howard is a consumer expert whose goal is to help you keep more of the money you make. His national radio show and website show you ways to put more money in your pocket, with advice you can trust. View More Articles

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