Dear Savvy Senior,
I’ve been searching on the Internet for retirement planning tools and calculators and am not sure where to turn. Which sites can you recommend that are easy to use, provide good information and don’t charge a fee? —Calculating Carl
When it comes to getting a handle on your financial situation and gauging how much you’ll need to retire, the Internet offers a buffet of tools and calculators that can be very helpful. Here are some good sites to help get you started.
Some of the best retirement planning tools and calculators on the Web today, are offered through large financial service companies. While the purpose of these tools is to entice new business, most companies don’t require you to be a client or purchase their products to use them. Here are four dandy sites to use (try several and compare), all of which are free.
- WealthRuler: Available at TD Ameritrade, this tool charts your retirement outlook and suggests ways to help you develop a plan to reach your goals. Go to www.tdameritrade.com/planningretirement/wealthruler.html and plug in your financial information (taxes, planned financial events, yearly income, projected Social Security, IRAs and other investments) to get your results.
- Retirement Income Calculator: Provided by T. Rowe Price (www3.troweprice.com/ric/ric/public/ric.do), this tool uses the Monte Carlo methodology to project whether your retirement-income needs will be met based on your savings, assets and age.
- Vanguard Retirement Center: Provides retirement advice, along with different calculators depending on your needs and age: More than five years to retirement, less than five years to retirement, and already retired. See https://personal.vanguard.com/us/planningeducation/retirement.
- MyPlan Retirement Quick Check: Offered by Fidelity (Fidelity.com/myplan) this site starts with a fun “Snapshot” introduction that puts your retirement reality in perspective, and will help you create a plan to help you reach your retirement goals.
If you don’t like the company sites, there are many others you can turn to for free retirement planning information and calculators, such as:
- Choose To Save: Created by the Employee Benefit Research Institute, this site (Choosetosave.org) offers the Ballpark Estimate retirement planning worksheet, more than 100 online calculators, savings tips and links to resources to help you manage your finances and plan your retirement.
- CNN Money (cgi.money.cnn.com/retirement/tools): Provides a number of calculators that projects what and how much you need to save for retirement, and how you compare with other people in your age and income level.
- MSN Money: Has a “Retirement and Wills Center” that offers a retirement planner and calculator and gives tips and strategies for saving for retirement. Visit moneycentral.msn.com/personal-finance — click on “Retirement.”
- Yahoo Finance: Offers retirement information and a variety of calculators at http://finance.yahoo.com/retirement.
- AOL Money & Finance: Provides financial and retirement calculators at www.walletpop.com/calculators/retirement.
- Bank Rate: Go to Bankrate.com and click on “Retirement” for a variety of retirement calculators.
To get estimates or information on specific areas of retirement, here are some additional resources that can help.
- Social Security: To estimate your future Social Security retirement benefits at different ages using different future earnings projections see www.ssa.gov/estimator. Also see Metlife.com/individual/financial-tools/social-security-tool/index.html, which offers a tool to help you decide when to start drawing your benefits.
- IRAs: To determine which type of IRA (Roth or traditional) is best for you, how much you can contribute and whether you should convert part or all of a traditional IRA to a Roth IRA see Morningstar’s IRA calculator at http://screen.morningstar.com/IRA/IRACalculator.html.
- Immediate Annuities: To calculate how much you can get with an immediate annuity see Immediateannuities.com.
- Life Expectancy: One of the key (and unknown) elements of retirement planning is how long you’ll live. Log on to Livingto100.com to get your estimate.
If you’re looking for a detailed financial plan, there are several new Web sites that offer interactive tools to help you see your current financial situation and map out your financial goals – all for free. The sites: SimpliFi.net, Planwithvoyant.com and ESPlannerBasic (Basic.esplanner.com). You’ll need to plug in your income information expenses, debts, assets, insurance, savings and retirement accounts, and the sites will do the rest.