This retirement calculator at creditloan.com is pretty useful. It helps you see how much you need to put away during your working years, rate of return, how long and when you want to retire. This is a good way of planning where you want to be in 10, 20, 30, or however many years from now, what kind of lifestyle you think you will be living... you make a couple assumptions including rate of inflation, rate of return, and amount of increase in your salary... but overall, I think it is helpful to at least forecast 20-30 years down the road to see the affects of our saving habits today.
Retirement at age 55 means needing to save 10% of income, having about 10% annual return before and 6% return after retirement, expected rate of inflation 3.1% (could be higher, but hoping it's not), and sticking with a 50k lifestyle (expecting to be living in a house that's paid off and kids out of the house).
Anyways, that's a doable plan. 10% savings rate + 10% rate of return until I retire. And who knows, I might work until I die or I might die before I reach 55. But it's always good to have a plan.
If you look back at my previous post on retirement in which I used the 4% rule, this plan matches up pretty well with it.
What can a budget do for you?