Online retirement calculators come in all shapes and sizes.
Some programs are extremely simple. They typically provide little in the way of helpful information that you can actually use to plan for retirement. Others are complex affairs that require an advanced degree from MIT to use.
What follows are 10 online retirement calculators that I believe get it just right. They are easy to use, provide a lot of useful information, and the best part is, they are all free.
Best Online Retirement Plans
Personal Capital Retirement Planner
Personal Capital is first among equals when it comes to retirement calculators. After signing up, you can connect all of your investment accounts to the free tool. The retirement planner then enables you to account for everything from social security to retirement spending.
You can set the assumed inflation rate, add spending goals, and even consider inheritance.
CNN's Retirement Planner
CNNMoney’s Retirement Planner is like creating an online financial plan.
The great thing about this tool is that it's very easy to use. It takes just a couple of minutes to input your data and see the results. The retirement planner also accommodates data for both couples and singles.
It allows you to estimate retirement needs in dollars or as a percentage of current income, and factors in social security benefits (which it estimates based on your income).
The results include an estimate of the likelihood your nest egg will grow to meet your needs.
Fidelity's MyPlan Retirement Quick Check is a more detailed retirement planner that uses Monte Carlo simulation to estimate how much money you will have during retirement.
Monte Carlo is a mathematical model which recognizes that the stock market doesn't produce the same rate of return each year. One year it could be up 25%, the next it could be down 15%.
This is an extremely important consideration for new retirees.
If the market drops 20% in your first year of retirement, the loss can increase the odds you'll outlive your money. Monte Carlo simulation looks at thousands of possible market returns over a period of time and produces a range of results. It then evaluates these results to determine the odds you'll meet your retirement goals. Fidelity's Retirement Quick Check is available to Fidelity clients or those that register with Fidelity.
And if you want to understand Monte Carlo retirement calculators better, check out The Retirement Calculator from Hell by William Bernstein.
Ultimate Retirement Calculator
The Ultimate Retirement Calculator lives up to its name. It enables you to enter a wealth of data. The inputs cover everything from cost of living adjustments (COLA) to one-time benefits. The results will show you if you’ll have a surplus or need to boost your savings.
Retirement Income Calculators
T. Rowe Price Retirement Income Calculator
T. Rowe Price's Retirement Income Calculator also uses a Monte Carlo simulation to estimate the likelihood your retirement savings will be enough. The unique feature of this calculator, though, is that you choose the confidence level for determining whether your money will be enough in retirement.
For example, let’s say you select 99% confidence. This means the calculator will assess whether your savings at retirement has a 99% chance of providing sufficient income for you during retirement.
One limitation of the calculator is that you must input how much you'll have at retirement. However, the other calculators discussed here can handle that aspect with no problem.
Fidelity's MyPlan Snapshot
Fidelity’s MyPlan Snapshot is a nifty online tool to help determine how much you need to save to meet your retirement goals.
The tool asks your age, income, investment style, monthly contributions to retirement accounts, and retirement savings. Based on this data, it then calculates how much you need at retirement (it assumes 85% of current income). It also analyzes how much you’ll have if the market performs poorly or as it has in the past.
You can then adjust the age at which you'll retire, your monthly contribution amount, or investment style to see how these decisions may impact your nest egg at retirement.
Morningstar's IRA Calculator
Morningstar’s IRA Calculator is a nifty 3-in-1 calculator if you have, or are considering opening, an IRA.
First, the calculator will tell you whether you qualify for a Roth IRA, a deductible IRA, or a nondeductible IRA.
Second, based on how much you plan to save in an IRA, the IRA calculator will tell you how much you'll have at retirement in each type of IRA. This is a helpful way to assess which IRA is best for you.
Third, the calculator will help you determine whether to roll over an IRA into a Roth IRA. So, if you have or are considering an IRA, this is definitely a tool to bookmark.
Other Online Retirement Calculators
There are literally thousands of retirement calculators available online. The calculators described above should cover most DIY retirement planning needs. But here are a few more to check out if you’re looking for other options:
- Dinkytown's Retirement Shortfall Calculator: As the name suggests, this calculator helps you determine if you'll have a shortfall in retirement.
- Bloomberg's Retirement Plan: One of the simplest calculators we cover, Bloomberg's tool is ideal for those looking for a quick analysis.
- Nationwide's RetirAbility Check: Yes, the car insurance company covers retirement, too. Actually, it has a wealth of information and tools to help you plan for your golden years. Its retirement planner is very comprehensive.
Learn More: How to Use Retirement Savings to Buy a House
We all know how important proper planning is to the retirement saving process. Being able to determine how much you'll likely need in retirement is key to ensuring that you don't outlive your savings. This process is even more important if you intend to retire early.
The tools mentioned above are great places to start when trying to decide how much you should have set aside for your future. Play around with a few of them (they’re free, remember?) and find one that you like. Then, be sure to check back regularly, especially if you make changes to your financial plan, if your net worth is impacted, or if your retirement needs change.