Read any article about retirement planning and they will give you a number that you should use as your savings goal. While on the surface this is great to have, the reality is that it has nothing to do with your personal situation.
What would be more beneficial to you is an easy retirement calculator that could help you determine exactly how much you need to save for a comfortable retirement.
After all, you probably ask some of these questions over and over:
- How much money should I have for retirement?
- How much is enough for retirement?
- Do I have enough saved for retirement?
By finding an easy to use retirement calculator, you could answer these questions and more.
For example, let’s use a common savings goal number that you see in many personal finance magazines, $1,000,000.
Is this the amount you should save? It all depends. I know a gentleman who is retired at 50 and has a $500,000 nest egg. For him, this is more than enough money. He has his home paid off and lives in a state with low taxes.
He also lives a very simple life, where he enjoys reading books and woodworking. He will easily outlive his savings. So having a $1,000,000 nest egg for him doesn’t make sense.
In fact, if he were to follow this advice, he would still be working, trying to amass that amount of retirement savings.
On the other hand, you have someone who lives just outside New York City and enjoys taking exotic vacations annually. Even if they retire at 65, a $1,000,000 nest egg might not be enough for them.
These examples show that you cannot use a general number when it comes to planning your retirement. You need to figure out your specific savings amount using a realistic retirement calculator.
Unfortunately, you can’t just use any of the retirement calculators you find online. There are many things that you have to take into account. For example, you need to consider:
- Retirement age
- Social Security income
- Retirement plans (traveling more, expensive hobbies, etc)
- Paying for children’s higher education
- One-time events (paying for a wedding, gifting money for child’s first home, etc)
Most basic retirement calculators you find from a quick online search aren’t going to allow you to enter in all of this information. Worse, many have built in assumptions that can lead you astray.
For example, you could enter the same information into two calculators and end up with 2 drastically different results. This is what happened to me when I used the AARP retirement calculator. Talk about confusing! And I won’t get into how annoying to was to wait for a new page to load after I entered each assumption either.
To take into account all of these events and get a number that you can trust, you need a calculator that is powerful. But many powerful retirement calculators are too complicated for most people to use.
They require you to have a deep understanding of the calculator and the topic at hand. When retirement planning, you want a quick answer that is detailed. Not an answer that will take you days to figure out.
Luckily, I found the 3 best retirement calculators that are easy to use and take into account everything you can possible throw at them. As a result, they will give you a specific number that is accurate for you.
This means you can save with confidence knowing you will be able to afford your retirement and even more importantly, not run out of money in the process.
And best of all, all 3 are completely free to use!
So let’s get started looking at these retirement calculators.
3 Best Retirement Calculators To Take Control Of Your Future
#1. Personal Capital
Hands down, this is the easiest retirement calculator that I have found. When I first started using it, something felt familiar with it and then I realized why.
When I was working for a high net worth financial planner (we dealt with investors who had at least $2 million to invest), we used a similar calculator to show our clients how much is enough for retirement.
Here is how the Personal Capital retirement calculator works.
You first create your free account with Personal Capital. You then link your investment accounts so Personal Capital can pull in your balances and begin to create your retirement plan.
All that is left for you is to enter your income events and spending goals.
Here is a run down of the income events you can input:
- Annuity income
- Pension income
- Rental income
- Sale of property
- Work during retirement
- Other income
Here is a run down of the spending goals you can input:
- Dependent support
- Home purchase
- Vehicle purchase
- Other expense
Personal Capital then runs a monte carlo simulation and shows you the likely outcome of your saving, investment growth and spending.
The thing I love about this tool is their analysis. As you can see from the image below, my current retirement planning is in good shape, with a 95% chance of success.
Overall, I love this tool. It’s simple to use, looks great, you can use this retirement calculator for couples, and you can save multiple plans. This means it is always up to date when you log into your account.
To get started with the Personal Capital Retirement Planner, click here.
FIRECalc is another free retirement planning calculator for you to use. This one also has a ton of great features and bases its output on a monte carlo simulation as well.
The only major drawback to this calculator is how confusing it looks the first time your use it. There is a lot of text to read and the boxes to enter in your information are easy to overlook. You can see this in the image below.
What I love about this retirement calculator is how detailed you can get. There are many more options here for inputting your portfolio because FIRECalc isn’t pulling your data like Personal Capital does.
But here are a couple things I don’t like about this calculator. The first is the layout as I mentioned above. It can be busy and tough to work your way through all the options when you are first using it.
Another downside is saving your plan. You have to copy the link and then enter that link back into your browser when you want to view, update, or edit your plan.
Finally, there are 5 set suggestions you can make to see the impact on your planning. I like how Personal Capital gives you specific, actionable suggestions to make.
FIRECalc on the other hand has you make the edits and then you have to see if they have a positive or negative effect on your retirement planning. This results in a lot of time wasted playing around with numbers instead of knowing exactly what you should do to improve your retirement planning.
#3. Flexible Retirement Planner
The Flexible Retirement Planner calculator is a powerful tool in planning for your retirement. It mimics the other two I highlighted with one big difference. Instead of accessing a retirement calculator online, the Flexible Retirement Planner is accessed locally on your Mac or PC after you download the file.
This is great for those who mainly do their planning while at home, but could be a deterrent for those who travel a lot or want access to their retirement calculator on any device they use.
And as with the others, this calculator allows you to enter a wealth of information to tailor the plan specifically to your life and plans.
The layout is clean too, as seen in the image below. Using it is very straightforward.
However, this calculator does require some personal finance knowledge in order enter in every assumption correctly. I see it as a fit for those who enjoy using spreadsheets the most.
Also, since you download the program, you have to be aware of changes in tax law. I tried to find out if you can download updates so that tax changes are incorporated, but didn’t see any documentation. This is something to keep in mind as taxes can have a major impact on your savings growth.
The feature I like most about this retirement tool is the Sensitivity Analysis. It is a heat map that shows you how vulnerable your retirement plan is to changes in your spending, portfolio rate of return, or estimated market return.
Which Is The Best Retirement Calculator?
Now that we have covered 3 great calculators, which one is the best retirement calculator? Unfortunately, only you can make the final decision.
All 3 offer detailed analysis and are realistic retirement calculators in that they give you information that you can trust.
With that said, I will suggest that most users try out Personal Capital first. This is because the layout is clean and very simple to use. If you have never run the numbers for your retirement, Personal Capital makes it easy.
For example, my wife is not a tech person and can easily update and follow along with Personal Capital. Before we used this tool, we were using FIRECalc and it was too much for her.
And since we aren’t near my computer when we discuss our finances, having access to Personal Capital on my tablet is great.
Finally, I think Personal Capital is the perfect retirement calculator for couples. My wife can follow along and update it, without feeling overwhelmed.
My second retirement calculator choice would be the Flexible Retirement Planner. The tool is great, it updates easily with a click of a button on the main screen, and you can save it locally.
But it takes a little more understanding to create a plan since you can edit just about every input possible.
And for some, having the ability to only access it on the computer you download it to can be a hassle.
Lastly, FIRECalc is great and it was the tool I was using before Personal Capital came along. I will admit though, it did take me a couple of times using it before I felt comfortable with the answer.
There is just so much text and places to input numbers that you can easily overlook one. And this could have a major impact on the results you see.
But it is very customizable and once you get a hang of it, it is very powerful.
So there are 3 of the best retirement calculators out there. I recommend all 3 but think that the one from Personal Capital stands out among the group for its clean look, ease of use by everyone regardless of financial planning knowledge, and its ability to be accessed on any device.
If you have any interest in planning for and saving for your retirement, you have to know how much money you will need. You cannot just wing this. If you do, you could end up working a lot longer than you need to or want to.
By having a customized number specific to you and your goals and plans, you can save and be relaxed knowing you are going to reach your saving goal on your terms.
So be sure to take the time to plan for your retirement using any of these retirement calculators. They will give you a much better idea of where you stand than any basic calculator most sites offer.