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Retirement Dilemma: Live the Life or Save More?

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- A lot has been written about retirement and how people should be saving more to live comfortably in their old age. But is there such a thing as going overboard with retirement savings? Are we becoming obsessed with retirement, so worried about the future that we deny ourselves many of the things we should be enjoying right now?

In a new nationwide survey conducted for TheStreet by GfK Custom Research, 85% of respondents said "it is important to be prepared for the future by sacrificing and saving today."

It would seem that even if they could afford to go on vacation, buy their dream home or upgrade to a nicer car, many would choose to put more money toward their retirement accounts instead.

Carrie Schwab-Pomerantz, president of Charles Schwab Foundation and senior vice president at Charles Schwab, says that isn't necessarily a bad thing, especially if one is playing catch up on retirement savings.

"If you started saving 10% to 15% of your income in your 20s, you should be on track for a comfortable retirement," says Schwab-Pomerantz. This could mean you will have some extra money now to spend on the things you'd like to enjoy.

But if you're in your 40s and you haven't even started a retirement account, Schwab-Pomerantz says you may need to set aside up to 40% of your income. Saving that much could indeed lead you to make sacrifices today.

Retirement Paranoia

Of those surveyed by GfK for TheStreet, 75% said they currently do not live beyond their means. Even then, 51% said they still find it hard to save for retirement, and 44% reported worrying that they aren't doing enough financially to prepare for retirement.

Austin Nichols, a senior research associate for the Urban Institute's Program on Retirement Policy, believes many people are paranoid about retirement because of constant reports that Americans are just not saving enough.

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