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Retirement Calculators

Retirement planning, if you plan on retiring, is one of those things that you just have to do.  But how do you know if you’re on the right track?

Do you just work and save for 30+ years and cross your fingers?  Sometimes, it seems like that is the plan.  Just work indefinitely until you think you have enough.  You max out your IRA contribution limits and cross your fingers.

For some reason, many people don’t like planning, but it doesn’t have to be that painful.

Maybe retirement planning was difficult in 1982, but with computers, smartphones, and the internet, there is no reason you can’t have a broad plan in 5 minutes and a detailed plan in anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour.

The more you’re willing to put in, the more you’ll probably get out.  What I’ve done is reviewed 3 retirement planning calculators that I’ve used in the past and provided some of the pros and cons to each.

Chase’s Retirement Calculator

Web Address: https://www.chase.com/online/investments/retirement-calculator.htm

Likes:

  • Allows addition of other income sources in retirement
  • Allows a spouse
  • Provides customized control over rate of return (click on “explore your options” then “more options”)
  • All fields are clearly defined
  • Visually appealing
  • Allows complete inflation rate control
  • Easy to use for a quick glimpse

Dislikes:

  • Very simplistic
  • No cash flow breakdown
  • Not clear if it estimates social security

CNN Retirement Calculator

Web Address: http://cgi.money.cnn.com/tools/retirementplanner/retirementplanner.jsp

Likes:

  • Allows addition of other income sources in retirement
  • Calculates social security estimation
  • Allows a spouse
  • Wide range of portfolio identities
  • Shows cash flow details
  • Easy to use for quick glimpse.

Dislikes:

  • Visually unappealing
  • Allows limited rate of return adjustments
  • Allows no control over inflation rate
  • Some fields are not clearly defined like the employer match field.  (employers could match 50%, or they could match up to 5%, or they could match 50% up to 5%, I don’t know what number they want).

Sharebuilder’s Retire My Way

Web Address: http://www.sharebuilder.com/sharebuilder/Retirement/retirement.aspx

Likes:

  • Allows addition of other income sources in retirement
  • Many lifestyle profiles to get you started more quickly
  • Extremely detailed
  • Allows spouse
  • Everything is clearly labeled.  Lots of help bubbles if you’re confused on anything.
  • Social security is estimated and they make that clear.
  • Allows a little control over rate of return, but it’s not fully customizable.
  • Provides customized savings plans, and allows you to customize them further.
  • It is very visually appealing, and easy to navigate.

Dislikes:

  • It might be too detailed for some tastes
  • It doesn’t provide a cash flow breakdown of how contribution and withdrawals will look.
  • It doesn’t appear to allow inflation rate control.

Conclusion

I’ve tried to be as detailed as possible and explore every nook-and-cranny.  These are excellent tools that are completely free.  Take advantage of them, and get one step closer to knowing if you’ll retire or not.  If you don’t like planning, then use either the CNN or the Chase calculator, and if you’re serious and don’t mind spending more time, then use Sharebuilder’s.  I prefer Chase’s and Sharebuilder’s tools the best.  I’ll try to review other popular Calculators in the future.

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