Retirement calculators are very popular – and for good reason. They supposedly help you monitor if you’re on track for your retirement goals, and most of them don’t cost a dime. However, with so many retirement calculator options out there, how do you know which ones are accurate, and which ones are a waste of your time?
The answer to that question has a few different layers, with the most important being the “garbage in, garbage out” rule.
The information an online retirement calculator gives you will only be as good as the information you enter into it. If you randomly enter guesses or estimates, the calculator results will be practically worthless. It’s vital to take the time to gather as much accurate information as possible before you start playing with calculators. Try to calculate or estimate to your best ability information like:
- Target retirement age
- Retirement living expenses, both baseline and exceptions
- Current assets by tax classification
- Retirement income (social security, pension, etc)
- Risk tolerance
- Projected savings rate from now until you retire
- Current and future housing (is your mortgage paid off? Do you have property taxes?)
If you take time to develop these inputs, the calculator outputs will be much more meaningful and helpful.
Once your numbers are ready to go, try out the following online retirement calculators. These have been tested and rated, and offer reliable information to help guide you in your retirement planning.
- The Flexible Retirement Planner – This calculator is pretty easy to use, and allows for many different adjustments so you can play around with numbers as much as you want. You can also view the results by “summary” for a general overview, and “detailed” for a more in-depth look.
- Personal Capital Retirement Planner – Personal Capital’s brand new calculator has a lower fidelity, making it incredibly user-friendly. It also offers easy-to-understand graph outputs.
- NewRetirement – You can be as involved as you wish with the NewRetirement calculator, the easiest being their free online version, with the most involved being their paid personalized service. They also are always updating their system with great advancements.
- MarketWatch Retirement Planner – This calculator, though low fidelity, offers a high level look at your retirement status. It has great features that allow you to adjust your assumptions for investment returns, inflation rates, tax rates, and even life expectancy.
- T Rowe Price Retirement Income Calculator – A recipient of the Alliance Star Award for best retail online innovation, this calculator has top-notch output graphs, alternate scenario comparisons, and probability of success output. It’s also incredibly user-friendly.
These are just a few of the many, many retirement calculators out there. Not sure if you want to trust just one? We don’t blame you. In fact, the best way to go about estimating for retirement is to run several of these calculators and compare the results. After all, you don’t want to put all your retirement savings in one basket.
Have you used any of these retirement calculators? Which ones did you like? Tell us in the comment section below.