Best Retirement Planning Tools & Calculators for 2021

These free tools can help you determine if you're on the right path to retirement.

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Here at Investor Junkie, we talk all the time about the best ways you can build and protect your retirement nest egg. But did you know there are useful — and free — tools that can help you know just what you'll need for your golden years? Here's what we consider the best retirement planning tools.

Since the 1990s, people have relied on online financial calculators to crunch their retirement numbers. While many excellent services cost money (such as the brilliant Maximize My Social Security, which is worth the price tag if you're near retirement and need to make every Social Security dollar count), there are many more that are totally free!

We've checked out all of these services in-depth (you'll find links below to our full reviews), and today we're highlighting our favorite free retirement planning tools that you can use today to figure out if you're on the right path to retirement.


1. Personal Capital's Retirement Planner

Personal Capital's Retirement Planner is FREE to use and, in my opinion, is the best one available today — free or paid. If you want to find out more about Personal Capital, we've reviewed this service. The platform offers many other features, as well.

The Personal Capital Retirement Planner has these features:

  • Analyzes Your Actual Savings and Spending — It automatically pulls in your actual (not just estimated) saving and spending habits from within Personal Capital. Most other calculators ask users to enter this manually, which is time-consuming and error-prone.
  • Accounts for Large Expenses — Quickly add large financial expenditures other than just retirement. Most calculators assume your savings are solely for retirement and ignore major purchases like college educations or homes. 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 these expenditures affect your retirement goals.
  • Large One-Time Savings Allotments — This feature allows for what people in the financial industry call “liquidity events.” Things like selling a business, exercising stock options, or getting an inheritance. The Retirement Planner lets users add these inflows, so you can anticipate when they might occur.
  • Covers All of the Possible Variables — The service includes taxes, inflation, withdrawals, saving increases, Social Security, and spousal retirement.
  • Buying a Home — Be it buying your first home or perhaps even purchasing a second home in another state, Personal Capital allows you to plan this out.
  • College Education — One of the most significant expenses today is college. In some cases, the price tag surpasses the cost of a home.
  • “what-if” scenarios — Best of all, the tool allows you to create many “what-if” scenarios with your finances: Increase your savings, see how it performs, or spend less in retirement and see how much longer it lasts.
  • Monte Carlo simulation — What separates the good from the excellent retirement calculators is a Monte Carlo simulation. Using this simulation, the tool calculates every possible outcome of stock market returns from today to retirement and from retirement to you and your spouse's eventual death. It's some heavy mathematics and uses probability, but it will tell you the chances of retiring without running out of money.
Personal Capital - Retirement Planner
Enter your future income and expenses to determine if you are on track for retirement

2. Betterment's Retirement Savings Calculator

Betterment is one of our favorite robo advisor services. More than just helping you do some hands-off investing, the service takes a holistic look at your financial picture to help you reach specific goals. So, of course, Betterment would have a useful retirement calculator.

To use this free tool, all you have to do is input your age, your household income (before taxes), how much you have saved for retirement already, and the amount your household is saving for retirement each year. The calculator will then give you an estimate of how much you'll be able to spend per year.
Betterment's Web Retirement Advice

Further Reading>> What is a robo advisor?


3. Stash's Retirement Calculator

If you're looking for a quick picture of how much you need to save for retirement, Stash's Retirement Calculator is a great choice. Enter your age, your intended retirement age, your pre-tax income, and how much you've saved and are saving, and you'll get a snapshot of how much you'll need and how much you're on track to have.

But Stash's Retirement Calculator is also useful for those who want a more thorough view, as well. That's because you can choose to incorporate several assumptions into the mix. These include how much of your current income you expect to need in retirement, your investment rate of return, life expectancy, and inflation. By making informed estimates here, you'll get a much better idea of where you stand when it comes to retirement savings.

A tiny minimum investment to start — only $5 — Stash is an excellent choice for beginner investors. If you go for the free Retirement Calculator, you might end up staying for the whole service.


4. Facet Wealth Retirement Planner

Facet Wealth
If you're looking for an alternative to Personal Capital, we recommend looking at a financial planning service like Facet Wealth. This service connects you with a dedicated financial planner who can help you with your retirement planning and make sure your assets are in check. They can also manage your investment portfolio.


5. CountAbout's FIRE Widget

CountAbout is a handy budgeting and personal finance tool. While it's mostly focused on monthly budgets and helping you monitor your spending, they also have a FIRE widget to help you plan for retirement. While it's not free, its basic account is just $9.99 a year.

Short for Financial Independence and Early Retirement, FIRE tools help you track how close you are to retirement. CountAbout's FIRE widget that tracks your monthly expenses along with any potential passive income and plots them over time. So, for example, if you are mostly invested in stocks, it will show the potential amount you have versus your expenses so you will know when you are financially independent. You can also analyze your future finances by setting your retirement withdrawal rate and calculate your passive income potential from the size of your assets.


6. Charles Schwab's Retirement Savings Calculator

Charles Schwab may be the granddaddy of discount stock brokers (it's nearly 50 years old!), but that doesn't mean this service hasn't kept up with the times.

Schwab's website offers a free calculator that can help you figure out where you stand today and what you need to do to hit your goals. Just input some details about your current situation and plans (as well as your risk tolerance), and the calculator will do the rest. You'll receive a summary of your retirement savings health, along with a series of suggested adjustments you can make to your portfolio.

We rank Charles Schwab very high when it comes to customer service, and it doesn't stop short here. There's a 24/7 chat box to help you work your way through the calculator.


7. Fidelity's myPlan Snapshot

With a stellar app and comprehensive features, Fidelity is one of our top-ranked online brokers. But did you know that its website also offers a free calculator you can use to get onto the right road to retirement?

myPlan Snapshot may not be as comprehensive as Personal Capital's Retirement Planner, but it can give you a quick, down-and-dirty glimpse at your financial future. All you need to do is enter your age, annual savings, annual income, and the value of your total investment portfolio. Fidelity will then create a visual representation of your projected assets in future dollars.

You don't need to sign up to Fidelity to use the calculator, but if you decide to become a customer — or if you're one already — you can use the data to create a more comprehensive plan.


8. Vanguard's Retirement Nest Egg Calculator

Vanguard is another stock broker, and its collection of mutual funds and ETFs is stellar. However, the company's website still seems a bit outdated. Nevertheless, you'll find a workable free calculator there.

The Retirement Nest Egg Calculator requires only four inputs:

  1. How many years should your savings last?
  2. What is your savings balance today?
  3. How much do you spend each year?
  4. How are your savings allocated?

Since it's not going as in-depth into your financial picture as, say, Personal Capital does, you won't get quite as comprehensive a result. You'll get a graph that tells you how long your savings will last. Still, it's a great quick snapshot if you need a good idea of whether or not you're on the right track.

Further Reading: Vanguard Personal Advisor Review

Disclaimer - Paid non-client endorsement. See Apple App Store and Google Play reviews. View important disclosures.

Investment advisory services offered by Stash Investments LLC, an SEC registered investment adviser. This material has been distributed for informational and educational purposes only, and is not intended as investment, legal, accounting, or tax advice. Investing involves risk.

¹For securities priced over $1,000, purchase of fractional shares start at $0.05.

²Debit Account Services provided by Green Dot Bank, Member FDIC and Stash Visa Debit Card issued by Green Dot Bank, Member FDIC. pursuant to a license from VISA U.S.A. Inc. Investment products and services provided by Stash Investments LLC, not Green Dot Bank, and are Not FDIC Insured, Not Bank Guaranteed, and May Lose Value.” because the article mentions the debit card.

³You’ll also bear the standard fees and expenses reflected in the pricing of the ETFs in your account, plus fees for various ancillary services charged by Stash and the custodian.

⁴Other fees apply to the debit account. Please see Deposit Account Agreement for details.

⁵Stock-Back® is not sponsored or endorsed by Green Dot Bank, Green Dot Corporation, Visa U.S.A, or any of their respective affiliates, and none of the foregoing has any responsibility to fulfill any stock rewards earned through this program.

Kat Peach

Although Katherine Peach originally intended to become an archaeologist, she has now been working as an editor in the financial publishing industry for more than 10 years. (Unearthing ideas about improving your personal finances isn’t such a bad career alternative!)

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3 Comments

  1. Does any of these calculators take into account rental/investment properties as part of your overall investment portfolio and income from them?

  2. There is no free calculator or “planner” that will give you reasonably reliable results. Period. They simple do not consider essential variables, and all use erroneous assumptions. This holds true for your #1 pick. The only way to get individualized answers to retirement questions is to create a comprehensive retirement plan. You don’t need to pay thousands to an adviser to do this, but it will cost something. Remember that free answers are expensive, because incorrect and incomplete information will cost you in the long run. Find a true financial planning tool (The Complete Retirement Planner is one example, but you may find others) and spend the hour or two it takes to use the tool to get detailed, specific results. If whatever you are using doesn’t account for taxes (a real calculation using tax rules, not an estimated rate for all years), or allow for entering varying return rates on investments (for changing strategy as you age), or calculate RMD’s, or allow for changing expenses as you age, etc., forget it. The more variables it accounts for, the better your results will be.

  3. Quick question are you being. Paid by them. .i talk to one of their agents and they are high pressure salesmen and i do not trust them

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