We all have seen those bumper stickers telling us tailgater’s that the beaming couples in their 35’ Allegro Coach are busy spending their children’s’ inheritance.

We’ve been bombarded by television, radio, and print media ads extolling the need to save money

We’ve been nagged and scolded, yes, scolded by talking heads on weighty TV shows and in print by “experts” telling us we need to save money and thus avoid being on the”Public Dole.”

For years working stiffs and white collar”salary men” have been deluged with exhortations aimed at a nation of spendthrifts on just how imperative it is to save money.

We’re living longer, America’s corporations are in flux and Social Security is no longer quite so “secure.”

Gadzooks! The national rate of savings-the difference between after-tax income and expenditures-is negative, according to those who peruse such things.

It’s tax time and most of us are checking out our IRAs, 401(k)’s, Roth’s and all that alphabet soup. Fidelity, one of our Nations major financial institutions says the average 401k holds $62,000. Many Americans are simply hoping for a quick refund.

There’s a small band of maverick economists from universities, research institutions and from within government circles who are daring to blaspheme that many Americans could save less and spend more while they’re still young and not be broke when retirement arrives.

They’re bluntly saying our large financial institutions with their ostensibly objective on line calculators hype up how much moolah a person needs for retirement.

There are some in this merry band who dare to point out that such institutions, which include such household names as Vanguard and the aforementioned Fidelity and many others, have a pointed interest in selling people on saving more then they need since the firms make money on managing those savings accounts.

Cut it in half is what these financial heretics are saying about the cash need to be set aside toward retirement.

This means a middle income couple could trade off as much as $400,000 in their retirement savings by making whoopee with an extra $3,000 a year instead of salting it away.

“For a middle-class household, that’s a lot of money,” says Laurence Kotlikoff, a Boston University professor of economics, who is riding point for the rebel band.

Apparently enjoying your youth financially finds little favor with our financial establishment since the findings of this daring band have so far been met with either stone cold silence or extreme umbrage.

“I count myself as deeply skeptical,” is the blunt words from Christopher Jones, chief investment officer at Financial Engines, a financial planning software company.

The big guys are apparently not commenting on the research but do say their rules are kept simple, which in turn keeps the process of financial planning likewise; thus less daunting.

John Rother, policy director for the American Association of Retired People AARP, says the rogue economists are “not doing anyone a service because of the tremendous amount of effort it takes to get people to save.”

However, this loose band of well-regarded economists, who have not been working in concert, say their research points to a startling conclusion: many Americans save too much, not too little.

“Even the most casual reading of the popular press will have you convinced that Americans are headed like lemmings over a cliff,” This is the gospel according to John Karl Scholz, an economic professor at the University of Wisconsin. “Going into this, I had no idea that we’d find any results anything like this.”

People will simply get more out of their money by using it at a younger age. “There is a risk in saving too much.” Kolikoff said. “You could end up squandering your youth rather than your money.”

Scholz said he and the authors of a study, “Are Americans Saving Optimally for Retirement?” found over saving across all economic and educational levels and most ethnic groups. The study said Hispanics tend to save less.

Those of us not saving enough were falling just short of the mark.

The one sore point in all this optimism is those of us who are single at the age of retirement are not saving enough.

The starting point for most retirement plans is the so-called replacement rate which puts it this way: an American needs an annual income in retirement equal to 75 to 86 per cent of what he or she earned in the last year of working. In plain speak, someone making $100,000 annually would plan for $85,000 upon retiring.

There is a second rule of thumb used in the financial industry; The rule says retirees should spend no more than four per cent of their assets each year in order to make them last; a typical couple with that income should enter retirement with a minimum of $2.1 million in assets.

Is this really true?

Not so, says Kotlikoff. His argument: it is more important to look at how people spend their income while working in order to determine how much is needed for retirement.

For an example: Did a couple buy a house in their 20’s and at retirement their home’s paid off and their life’s rent free.

Then there is the matter of death. One spouse tends to die an average of 11 years after retirement which, in turn, leads to a spending drop by the survivor. Age gaps also influence spending habits.

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