Frugal Americans—assaulted by warnings of a retirement crisis—are spending less and saving more. All well and good, but are financial planners and online savings tools actually telling us to save too much—almost to an excessive point?

What's worse, are they telling us things that may actually derail our retirement income?

Austin Nichols, a senior research associate at the Urban Institute's Program on Retirement Policy, writes in a new research report that the old "rule-of-thumb" of aiming to replace at least 80 percent of pre-retirement income to cover expenses could be exaggerated. When it comes to retirement planning, he argues, pre-retirees shouldn't concentrate on the amount of income they can replace, but should instead focus on the amount of consumption they can handle once they reach retirement.

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