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?
Since the 1990s, people have relied on online financial calculators to crunch their retirement numbers. While there are many excellent services that 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.
Personal Capital’s Retirement Planner
We think that Personal Capital is currently the best personal finance app out there. And it packs a punch with one of the most helpful retirement planning tools that we’ve seen. All you have to do is sign up for a free Personal Capital account.
Personal Capital is an excellent personal finance app that syncs your spending, saving and investing accounts. It's easy to use, plus it's free! Personal Capital has a powerful feature that completes a thorough checkup of your investment portfolio. However, its Wealth Management service, is more expensive than other robo advisors.
- Complete View of Your Finances
- Powerful Investment Checkup
- Support via Many Apps
- The You Index
- Easy to Use
- Custom Allocation of Unknown Assets
- Great Reporting
- All-Inclusive Wealth Management Fee
- Asset Allocation Is Not Customizable
- Budgeting Tool Needs Improvement
- Cannot Reconcile
- Expensive Wealth Management Service
- High Minimum for Wealth Management
- No Import Option From Quicken
- Sales Calls from Personal Capital
Personal Capital’s Retirement Planner may just be the gold standard of free calculators. In fact, we’d rate it higher than many paid tools we’ve seen. Retirement Planner uses what’s known as a Monte Carlo simulation, which lets you see all the possible outcomes of your decisions and measure the impact of risk. The calculator thus will take into account all possible variables including taxes, inflation, savings increases, Social Security, withdrawals and your spouse’s retirement.
Personal Capital’s Retirement Planner uses your actual savings and spending habits (rather than just an estimate), so you’ll get an accurate picture of your financial situation. The app will also automatically track your retirement goals over time and can factor in “liquidity events” — such as the sale of a business, receiving an inheritance, etc. — as they actually happen. Here’s more if you want to learn all about this tool.
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.
Although Charles Schwab requires a hefty minimum deposit ($1,000), it ranks high in customer satisfaction and offers all the features you'd find at any major brokerage, including no-fee professional portfolio management on accounts with at least $5,000. However, active traders might do better looking elsewhere.
- First-Rate Customer Service
- No-Fee Professional Portfolio Management
- Investing and Banking With the Same Company
- High Minimum Deposit
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 future 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.
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?
If you're looking for a one-stop-shop banking and investing service, Fidelity Investments is for you. However, despite its stellar mobile app, the service lacks the functionality of other online brokers.
- Cheap Trades
- Commission-Free ETFs
- Large Selection of Investment Options
- Credit Options Plus Cashback
- Bill Payment
- No Minimums
- Lacks Functionality
- High Margin Rates
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.
Vanguard’s Retirement Nest Egg Calculator
Vanguard’s another stock broker, and its collection of mutual funds and ETFs is stellar. However, the company’s website still seems a bit outdated. Still, you’ll find a workable free calculator there.
Vanguard offers an unbeatable selection of ETFs, no-load mutual funds, financial planning and other services you'd expect from a stock broker. While it's great for mutual fund and ETF investors, stock traders will likely prefer other services.
- Great Selection of Funds
- Handy Tools
- Good Customer Service
- Fees Favor Vanguard Products
- Not the Best Broker for Stocks
- High Minimum for Mutual Funds
The Retirement Nest Egg Calculator requires only four inputs:
- How many years should your savings last?
- What is your savings balance today?
- How much do you spend each year?
- 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.