At Investor Junkie, we think Personal Capital is currently one of the best personal finance apps on the market, especially for individuals who want to track their investments as well as their other financial accounts. Check out our Personal Capital review for details.
One of the things I personally like about their service is the ability to organize all of my accounts in one place, not only from my desktop computer, but on the go with their mobile app. I like their service so much that I’ve made the permanent switch from Quicken’s service to Personal Capital.
The most common question we get from our mailing list subscribers is: Do I have enough saved for retirement?
Of course, I really have no idea of each reader’s specific financial situation, and this is a complicated question that deserves a complicated answer. It’s not something I can really help with a two-sentence solution. There are fee-only financial advisors that will charge at minimum a few hundred dollars to give you an answer.
With Personal Capital Retirement Planner, it’s now possible to answer this question with some degree of confidence. Best of all — it’s free!
The trend for the automated financial services is to give assistance in retirement planning. Betterment was the first to offer this kind of feature.
One problem is that Betterment only knows about Betterment accounts. It doesn’t have a holistic view of your entire financial picture, and this is one of the biggest limitations of Betterment’s service.
Granted the concept of retirement calculators has existed for years and are nothing new. The first decent calculator was available in Quicken over 20 years ago. I, in fact, was involved in creating the first online retirement calculator for T. Rowe Price’s website way back in 1994.
Not all retirement calculators are created equally. What separates the good from the excellent retirement calculators are ones that use a Monte Carlo simulation to determine possible outcomes and the probability of those outcomes. Personal Capital uses this with many variables you can adjust, and auto-population of your financial accounts.
With Personal Capital’s Retirement Planning service you get access to these features:
- Uses Your Savings and Spending Habits — It automatically pulls in your actual savings and spending habits from within Personal Capital, not just estimated spending/savings habits. Most calculators ask users how much you save into retirement accounts and how much you spend each month.
- Tracks Progress Over Time — The app will track your retirement goals over time. Again because everything is linked up, this happens automatically.
- Accounts for Large Expenses — Quickly add in large financial expenditures along the way, other than just retirement. Most calculators assume your savings are all for retirement and ignore major purchases like college educations or home purchases. Personal Capital’s Retirement Planner allows you to input these events, when you think they’ll occur, and how much they’ll cost. The tool recalculates to see how those expenditures affect retirement goals.
- Large One-Time Savings Allotments — This feature allows for what people in the financial industry call “liquidity events.” Things like a sale of a business, exercising stock options, or getting an inheritance. The Retirement Planner lets users add these inflows to, so you can anticipate when they might occur.
- Monte Carlo Analysis — Runs multiple calculations and the possibility of a good outcome with your finances.
- Covers All of the Possible Variables — The service includes: taxes, inflation, withdrawals, saving increases, Social Security, and spousal retirement.
- iPad Access (New) – You can now do all of this via their iPad app.
If you already use Personal Capital, then there’s not much you need to input to test out this tool. Just login and access the Retirement Planner for free.
In my tests, I ran multiple “what if” scenarios using my personal finances. I saw the changes in possibility in meeting our family goals. I was impressed with its functionality and ease of use.
It’s one of the best retirement calculators out there — paid or free. Once you have your accounts linked, it’s very easy for you to see exactly how you are progressing toward your retirement.
Of course, Personal Capital hopes that seeing their tool will get you to use their financial services and other products. Though there is no obligation in using their paid services.
Personal Capital’s new Retirement Planner makes an already great service even better. I’ve seen commercial retirement calculators with fewer features.
Best of all, this feature is also available for free. This puts their service in a different league than the online service Mint.com.