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May 31, 2021
Retirement planning has never been more complicated. With changes in the economy and uncertain times ahead, you might think you need a finance degree to get it right. But then again, it’s never been so simple.
Fortunately, there are tools called retirement calculators that help clear the murky water.
A quick Google search will show you that there’s no shortage of retirement calculators out there. But volume doesn’t reflect quality. So, how do you know which one will work for your situation?
Simple: We’ve done the research for you.
Of the possibilities, we’ve selected NewRetirement, T. Rowe Price, American Funds, AARP, Bankrate, and others. Each of these offers the fundamental information to help you make sound retirement planning decisions. But each one has something special, too.
Whether you’re looking for a quick snapshot or an in-depth review of your goals and progress, you’re likely to find what you need in one of these top-shelf retirement calculators.
Before diving into the details of the 10 best retirement calculators, here is a summary of our findings:
There are many similar tools out there that say they are the best. But, we went through them with a fine-tooth comb to pick the best of the best. Our selection criteria included four main considerations:
Unbiased: You need to be able to trust the results of a retirement calculator. Understanding if the system is trying to sell you something is important to know.
Comprehensive and Accurate: A retirement plan is a lot more than your bank account. You deserve a tool that allows you to pull all the various levers that impact your finances. These tools range from about 5 input fields for the simplest tools to over 100 for the most comprehensive.
Customizable: Too many retirement calculators rely on assumptions for results. However, you are not average and you need to be able to change anything and everything that might impact your financial future. You also want to be able to change and update your information over time.
Personalized: This is your retirement. You need your results to reflect you.
Support: All of these calculators will give you answers about where you stand. Some will also help you know how to do better — retire earlier, be wealthier, or more secure.
NewRetirement offers three powerful options, depending on YOUR needs:
1) The NewRetirement Planner (the best free retirement planning tool available on the internet),
2) A quick retirement calculator (fast general answers but not as comprehensive or personalized) like this,
3) And PlannerPlus, a complete, best-in-class, and unbiased retirement planner ($96/year for advanced tools like tax planning, withdrawal strategies, an AI-powered coach, more control over assumptions, office hours with retirement specialists, and more).
The information you enter reflects you, your current situation, and your goals for retirement. And, it shows you the many different ways you can achieve those goals.
The Planner gives you power over all the variables that might impact your retirement and minimizes assumptions. NewRetirement is highly customizable.
You can set your own values for longevity, inflation rates, investment returns, and saving and income levels as well as home equity and real estate investments. The calculator gives you results that are more accurate for your situation.
NewRetirement is a great planner if you have significant retirement savings. It’s even better if you are not as prepared as you would like to be as it gives you personalized suggestions from an artificial intelligence coach for what specifically you could do to improve your plan.
What to Expect
The NewRetirement Planner has an in-depth breakdown of what you have now, what you’re projected to have at retirement, how long it should last, and everything that you can think of.
It is easy and doesn’t take long to get started and access great information. However, this tool is designed to be used over time.
As such, you begin by creating an account and entering some basic information. Just an email and password.
You will next get customized charts about your current situation — including Monte Carlo analysis to the 1,000th iteration.
You’ll get a savings analysis that shows in simple language how long you can expect your savings to last into retirement.
You will also see how much you will likely need to maintain the standard of living that you’ve got. You’ll see your current net worth, retirement cash flow, and then it gets really interesting.
You can add more information or run different scenarios. You instantly see how the changes impact your finances now and into your future.
The calculator does more than tell you if there are shortcomings in your plan. It also gives you real-world options for fixing it.
You’ll also see how your situation could improve if you choose any of the suggestions.
All your information is saved so you can maintain your retirement plan over time.
The T. Rowe Price calculator offers a straightforward and simple retirement planning tool. It works whether you’re early in the retirement savings mode, or already retired.
You’ll have options for entering the information you’d expect, such as your age and how much you’ve already saved and invested toward retirement.
You’ll get to results fairly quickly and the tool runs a Monte Carlo analysis. It shows out of 1000 different scenarios how many results in successes (you have money left at the end) and failures (you run out of money).
They make it easy to play with the limited information you entered, but it is not a lot of fields. They use sliders to make it easy to change the information available.
The system runs heavily on assumptions.
If you don’t like what you see in the summary, you can adjust your numbers without backtracking to the beginning.
You can change details, such as your monthly retirement savings contributions and when you want to retire. You get instant, updated results based on those changes.
You’ll see how much you will likely have at retirement, based on your current course, and how much T. Rowe Price thinks you will need. Then you’ll have a few options for correcting any shortfall, with more information on each to help you choose which is the right path for you.
The American Funds retirement calculator has two versions. There’s the short version, called Quick Analysis, and the full one, called the Detailed Version.
The short version has 4 questions and takes about 5 minutes to complete.
The detailed analysis has 15 questions, and you’ll need about 15 minutes, maybe more, to go through it.
With the short version, you get the basics. The detailed analysis asks a lot of questions about your investments, annuities, and a few other details.
Like other calculators, you’ll be asked your birth year, income, the dollar value of all investments combined, and how much pension you might receive at retirement. With the in-depth version, expect more questions in greater detail.
On the Quick Analysis Results page, you’ll see a chart with the projected growth of your current savings and investments. The bar is set at the top end of the chart, which shows your projected goal.
If there’s a shortfall in your current plan, the analysis suggests how much you’ll need to save. The goal would be to meet 80 percent of your current income during retirement.
With the in-depth calculator, you’ll get results that are more tailored to you instead of ones generated based on assumptions.
Instead of guessing that you’ll need 80 percent of your current income at retirement, you can adjust for your own needs.
The AARP retirement calculator is another user-friendly calculator. It’s not overly technical but still covers all the important bases. It’s not as intimidating as some others.
The results page is interactive, too, which makes it easier to try out different scenarios.
One thing that’s different about this one is a lifestyle question. You can set your lifestyle expectations upfront instead of asking you to guess how much you’ll need
You’ll be asked the typical questions, including how much you contribute to retirement savings each year. And you can lump contributions into one category, for simplicity’s sake, or add separate line items for your 401(k), IRA, and others.
And for some entries, you can enter dollar amounts, or let the calculator estimate for you. For example, if you already know what you’re projected to receive in Social Security benefits once you retire, you can enter that amount. Or the calculator will estimate it for you.
On your results page, there’s a graph that shows what you’ll need to retire compared to what you’ll likely have. But there’s also a plain-language explanation at the top of the chart that puts everything into perspective in short form.
You’re given the dollar amount you’ll need to retire, and below that is how much you will have saved if you stay on the same track.
On the final page, you’ll have the opportunity to play with numbers a bit. At the top, you’ll see whether your plan is “On Target” or “Over Budget,” meaning you’ll need to save more.
Using a slider, you can adjust your lifestyle to more modest or more extravagant. And you can also adjust your retirement age. The chart from the previous page appears, and automatically adjusts based on how you move the sliding scales.
MarketWatch recently opted to replace its retirement calculator with the NewRetirement financial planner.
Bankrate has a bit more than just a retirement calculator. It’s both simple and complex because there isn’t just one — there are several, each with a particular focus.
The comprehensive, separate nature of these calculators might be overwhelming for some people. But it could be right for you.
You’ll see an extensive list of calculators that you can choose from. Examples include a calculator for 401(k) contributions, 401(k) with Roth IRA, 403(b), Retirement Planner, Social Security Benefits, Asset Allocation, and many more.
For the purpose of this article, we’ve selected the Retirement Income Planner calculator.
Bankrate’s calculators are different because each one focuses on one issue. Instead of page after page of inputting your information, each calculator has a few fields to fill out. The results happen on the same page with a chart.
You can adjust your information to see how it affects the outcome. You’ll get an analysis that tells you how much your current savings and investments will yield in retirement income. You can account for inflation, or not. It’s your choice.
When you select “View Report,” you’ll see a graph that shows the rate at which your savings could grow over time. Below that, you’ll have a breakdown of what all of those numbers mean.
This includes how much you can expect to receive monthly, to how much that’s equal to in today’s dollars.
Another interesting feature of this calculator is the tax estimate. You’ll learn how much, if any, of your retirement income, is likely to be subject to taxes.
If you’ve put most of your savings into tax-deferred options, such as a 401(k) or IRA, you’ll earn interest tax-free. Taxes apply to your withdrawals.
Personal Capital is a financial planning site that offers many tools including a retirement planner.
It uses real-world data to provide you with the information you need to invest in your retirement.
This calculator strongly encourages you to link your accounts upfront so that it can use your real investments, income, and savings to calculate what you need to retire. It will also run a Monte Carlo Analysis. The analysis runs 5000 different scenarios to test what could happen to your investments.
Then it tells you the probability of these events. You will see if these events are good or bad for your investments.
Personal Capital’s calculator allows for major customization and personalization. If you already have their dashboard, the calculator pulls your information from the other accounts.
You can control how much money you save per year. You can add income events, spending goals as well.
The calculator will show you a cash flow table with all your spending and savings. Based on the data, the calculator will give you a graph of what assets to invest in your retirement savings. It also gives you an overall snapshot of your financial future.
You can also save your profile to view it later or change values around.
The Vanguard Retirement Nest Egg Calculator is another easy-to-use calculator. It gives you a quick snapshot of your retirement savings and investment. Data input uses sliders and you are not required to submit personal information.
It offers useful information based on an analysis of multiple investment scenarios. It is easy to change your inputs and test other options.
The calculator is only one page. It only requires six data entries. These data entries are easily changeable and allow you to run multiple scenarios.
There are two graph options you can view: “How long will your savings last?” and “Projected savings balance”.
The first graph shows you when your savings will start dropping off. It also tells you the probability of your investment lasting for however long you chose it to.
The second graph shows how your balance might change over your years of retirement. The graph has three different colors to represent the range where your investment may fall.
This is because the analysis runs 100,000 different scenarios and ranks them from best to worst. You can see where your investment may fall and the chances of it being better or worse.
Todd Tresidder’s real-world experience helped him develop his Ultimate Retirement Calculator. Each input area brings up a brief explanation of what it is and what to enter.
The calculator requires a good amount of information on your part. It is not as extensive as the other calculators. A simple average-return calculation forms the analysis. It and does not take outside investment factors into consideration.
You will need to input a lot of data but the form walks you through it with comprehendible explanations. All the information won’t bog you down.
The interface is easy to scroll through and adjust data as needed.
You will need to know (or at least guess) any one-time, and monthly incomes as well as post-retirement income.
Your results will show you what you need to save. It will also tell you your savings at retirement as well as any surplus you might have.
Then it breaks down your investments and savings by year into a spreadsheet.
The Fidelity Retirement Planner is a good tool with a variety of inputs that all update a single chart showing your accounts and any potential gap in what you need for a secure future. There are various data points to input. These include personal information, your time horizons, projected retirement expenses, taxes, savings accounts, asset mix, salary, other income, and Social Security.
The results give you a score from red, yellow, light green to green. Red means that your plan needs attention. Green means that you are doing well.
You can adjust your data easily and everything is all on one screen.
It is nice that the tool gives you action items to explore, but these are very generic — not personalized.
This is one of the few calculators that talks about taxes and the only one that asks for your filing status and your local tax rate. Adding this information updates the retirement plan analysis, but it does not give you any tax-specific charts or insights.
The tool is attractively presented with colorful easy to understand graphics.
Retirement planning might seem like hard work, but it doesn’t have to be. The very purpose of a retirement calculator is to lift some of the confusion—and the burden—to make planning easier and help you stay on track.
NewRetirement has worked hard to create an option that covers as much ground as possible. But it won’t leave you more confused than before you began.
We cover critical details, and then some, but it’s present in a way that makes you the confident financial expert you need to be.
Check out our retirement planner today, and find out how simple planning for the future can be.
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