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.
Our Recommended 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 PlannerPersonal Capital, we've reviewed this service. The platform offers many other features, as well.
The Personal Capital Retirement Planner includes:
- Analyzes Your Actual Savings and Spending
- Accounts for Large Expenses
- Covers All of the Possible Variables
- “what-if” scenarios
- Monte Carlo simulation
- New home simulation
- College education simulation
Of course, you can also use its wealth management service and work with an advisor if you invest at least $100,000. This means you build a custom portfolio that matches your goals and risk tolerance. But as a standalone tool, it's one of the best retirement planners you can use.
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.
Knowing your discretionary spending is important as you plan for retirement so you can stay on track with your budget. Betterment's retirement planning tool helps in this department, and it's also a very affordable robo advisor if you need help investing.
Further Reading>> What is a robo advisor?
3. Stash's Retirement Calculator
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.
4. CountAbout's FIRE Widget
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're 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.
5. 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 retirement calculator that helps 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 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.
6. Fidelity's myPlan Snapshottop-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 retirement investing plan.
7. NewRetirement's Retirement Planner
NewRetirement specializes in offering affordable retirement planning tools, educational content, and a community of like-minded investors.
Their free plan helps you see where you stand financially and if you're financially prepared for retirement. With their PlannerPlus Plan ($96 per year) you can also create a budget, link your accounts, get a detailed tax analysis, find the best withdrawal strategies, and more. And the PlannerPlus Live ($396 a year) includes all of that plus two Zoom sessions with a retirement planner. Both planned plans offer 14-day trials.
8. Vanguard's Retirement Nest Egg Calculator
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.
Further Reading: Vanguard Personal Advisor Review
Succesful retirement planning doesn't happen overnight or by accident. In reality, it requires diligent long-term investing and saving. It also requires the willingness to look at your finances and to stay organized.
The great news is that there are plenty of premium and free retirement planning tools that provide a helping hand. Personal Capital is one of our free favorites, but you can use a combination of calculators and tools to map out your unique retirement plan.Disclaimer - Paid non-client endorsement. See Apple App Store and Google Play reviews. View important disclosures.
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