The 5 Best Retirement Calculators

Retirement planning has never been more complicated. But then again, it’s never been so simple. With so many changes in the economy and uncertain times ahead, you might think you need a degree in finance to get it right. But fortunately, there’s a tool called the retirement calculator that helps 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 scores of possibilities, we’ve selected NewRetirement, T. Rowe Price, American Funds, AARP, and Bankrate. Each of these offers the fundamental information that you need to 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.

NewRetirement’s retirement planning calculator is a personalized and extremely comprehensive system.  The information you enter reflects you, your current situation, your goals for retirement and the many different ways you can achieve those goals.

This tool gives you power over all of the variables that might impact your retirement and minimizes assumptions.  From setting your own values for longevity, inflation rates and investment returns to enabling you to vary your spending, saving and income levels or tap home equity, NewRetirement is highly customizable — giving you results that are more accurate for your situation.

NewRetirement is a great calculator if you have significant retirement savings and even better if you are not as prepared as you would like to be.

What to Expect — What you get with the New Retirement calculator is an in-depth breakdown of what you have now, what you’re projected to have at retirement, how long it should last, and nearly everything that you can think of in between.

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 (just email and password) and entering some basic information.  You will next get customized charts about your current situation.

One of the original analyses they offer is a comparison of how you are doing and not just against averages.  See how your finances compare to those in your own zip code.  You’ll get a savings analysis that shows in plain language how long you can expect your savings to last into retirement, and then you’ll 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.

Add more information or run different scenarios and instantly see how the changes impact your finances now and into your future.  And, instead of simply telling you that there’s a shortcoming in your existing plans, this calculator gives you real-world options for fixing it. You’ll also see how your situation is projected to improve if you choose any of the suggestions, and how you compare to others in your area.

All of your information is saved so you can maintain your retirement plan over time.

T. Rowe Price
The T. Rowe Price calculator offers a straightforward but flexible retirement planning tool that 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. And instead of expecting you to have all of this information at hand, there’s an optional worksheet that helps you calculate quickly without navigating off the page.

This calculator will make you work a little harder, but the results give you valuable information that can help you plan better. It’s not as plain-language as some others, but it does what a retirement calculator should do.

What to Expect — After a lengthy account creation process (name, address, etc.. ), you’ll be asked detailed questions up front, such as how much of your investments are allocated to stocks or bonds. And once you’ve made it through the initial pages, you’ll see a short video that breaks down your information with a projection of how your savings and investments should carry you through retirement, and whether you’ve got a shortfall.

One interesting thing about this calculator is that 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, and 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 things 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.

American Funds
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, which is a great jumping-off point if you’re not quite ready to go in-depth with a retirement calculator.

What to Expect — Like other calculators, you’ll be asked your birth year, income, 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, which is an interesting feature. The bar is set at the top end of the chart, which shows your projected goal. And if there there’s a shortfall in your current plan, the analysis suggests how much you’ll need to save to meet the projected goal of 80 percent of your current income during retirement.

When you’re ready for the in-depth calculator, you’ll get results that are more tailored to you instead of generated based on assumptions. For example, 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 that’s not overly technical, but still covers all of 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. Instead of asking you to guess how much you’ll need, or assuming that you’ll need a certain percentage of your current income, you can set your lifestyle expectations up front.

What to Expect — 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, 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.

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 yet separate nature of this collection of calculators might be overwhelming for some people, but it might be just right for others.

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.

What to Expect — Bankrate’s calculators are different because each one is focused on one issue. Instead of page after page of inputting your information, each calculator has a few fields to fill out, and the results happens on the same page with a chart. You can adjust your information to see how that affects the outcome. And what you’ll get is an analyzation that tells you how much your current savings and investments will yield in retirement income once you need it. 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 is projected to grow over time. Below that, you’ll have a breakdown of what all of those numbers mean, from how much you can expect to receive monthly, to how much that’s equal to in today’s dollars.

Another interesting feature with 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 and only be taxed on what you withdraw.

Retirement planning might seem like hard work, but it doesn’t really 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 in a way that won’t leave you more confused than before you began. All of the critical details are covered, and then some, but it’s presented in a way that makes you the confident financial expert you need to be.

Check out our easy-to-use retirement calculator today, and find out how simple planning for the future can be.

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