Financial Wisdom

Great Retirement Calculators

There are literally hundreds… maybe even thousands of websites out there that promise to help you prepare for your retirement. Some of them are extremely pessimistic, talking about how the economy is about to implode and we will all need to live off canned lima-beans and twinkies from our fallout shelters for the rest of our lives.

Others suggest that you can make a break for it for as little as $50,000 saved, or that the amount isn’t important, but your standard of living is all that matters.

Both of these are extreme, obviously. Your retirement is very much up to you, but one person is certainly not going to do as well as another on the same amount saved.

Your Situation is Everything

There are about as many different situations and factors that dictate when someone can realistically retire and how much in savings is needed as there are people in the workforce. The list of factors that can influence when you retire (below) is certainly not exhaustive.

  • Age
  • State of Residence
  • Country of Residence
  • Debt Level
  • Number of Dependents
  • Areas of Investment
  • Overall Health
  • Marital Status
  • Preferred Lifestyle
  • Number of Mortgages
  • Property Owned
  • Businesses Owned
  • Number of prized thoroughbred Horses

This list goes on and on. A 44-year old diabetic with sixteen children, two mortgages and fifty thoroughbred horses living in Denmark is going to need a lot more in the bank than a 44-year old healthy childless person living in Costa Rica.

This is why taking a simple retirement calculator that asks your age and tells you how much to invest is missing out on so many factors.

I have compiled a short list of some interesting and all-encompassing calculators that will help take some of the above factors into consideration. Just remember that even with these calculators your situation is unique to you, and if someone looks like it is going to work for you but a calculator disagrees, the calculator does not need to have the final word.

Great Calculators

FIRECalc – This is a fascinating calculator based on the idea that history will likely repeat itself. Simply take the amount you would like to live on, take your current investment level, and the number of years you need to survive. The calculator will give you a series of plots and lines spread out across the number of years you indicated. These lines show what your retirement plan would amount to had you retired in 1900… or 1902… or 1915. This is all based on real data. Of course it is 2012, but this is a conglomerate average of many, many years of data. Try it for yourself!

CalculatorWeb – This one is actually pretty comprehensive. The one downside is that it is written more for 9-to-5ers who plan on sticking at their jobs for awhile. If you are a business owner or self-employed you can still use this tool, but it is much more difficult to estimate your “salary” so it will not be as accurate. Still, I needed to include this one for the thoroughness.

PracticalMoneySkills – A nice, simple calculator that focuses a lot on the lifestyle you would like to live when you retire and on what you are willing to save yearly to get there. The results show you what you will need to be saving each year to meet your goal. To be safe, you probably shouldn’t use an annual interest rate over 15% for the calculator.



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