Are there any retirement calculators that aren't super-simple?
March 14, 2011 8:18 AM   Subscribe

Are there any retirement calculators that aren't super-simple? I'm specifically looking for a retirement calculator that would look sort of like multiple calculators where you could put in an age-range, and then all the normal inputs (starting age, starting retirement principal, income, income increase % year over year, % saved for retirement, etc).

I know that retirement calculators are limited at best but how limited they are bugs me sometime. I know I could write up a program or spreadsheet that would do (some) of what I want but, if someone has done the work already, I'd rather not repeat it.

I would like a calculator that is a little more smart about the various phases people go through in their lives. As an example - work till 50, move towards consulting/limited hours semi-retirement from 50-65, living partly on taxable accounts, 65-75 live it up a little, 75-? sustain, maintain.

Or perhaps you want to model a 2 year Buddhist retreat to India into your work-life schedule..

Or perhaps you want to spend 5 years in your 40s sailing all over the world..


I'm also happy to hear about any retirement calculators that go above and beyond the simple formula in other ways that I may not have mentioned (like handling tax-estimates better, or allowing one to model stock/bond mix changes over time, etc).
posted by mbatch to Work & Money (8 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Use excel. This is exactly what it is there for. Learn how to use the different discounting formulas and you can be as creative as you want. Plus if you do this yourself and collect all of the data you need for these calculations you'll have learned a ton.
posted by JPD at 8:34 AM on March 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

I think this one will interest you:

It looks simple at first, but if you read the explanation, it's a bit more complex.
posted by dave*p at 8:36 AM on March 14, 2011

Yeah, for what you're looking to do, Excel is the way to go.
posted by dfriedman at 8:37 AM on March 14, 2011

And another one here:

And yet another:

The first two I've linked to (the one in my first post, and the first one in this post) are Monte Carlo models. The thrid one has a Monte Carlo option. That may not be what you're after, but they may help provide you with an alternate (and helpful) view.
posted by dave*p at 8:48 AM on March 14, 2011

I work for a company that does this very thing, albeit for a B2B market. We did produce a very simplified version a few years ago for a UK company's public site - you can access it here. If memory serves me, it pegs a % contribution to inflation over time, but assumes a fixed "balanced" portfolio. The "monte carlo" part of the projection means that it calculates thousands of different possibilities for growth and then aggregates that result into a spread of possibilities. The result you get at the end of the calculator is where the highest concentration possibilities fell in the distribution.

If you want to write your own, you might find this recent series of blog entries from our founder useful - it goes into detail about how the path of an investment's growth is important to the overall performance.
posted by ukdanae at 9:31 AM on March 14, 2011

OP needs something more complex then modeling investment returns - he wants lots of flexibility with respect to cashflows into his retirement plan.
posted by JPD at 9:45 AM on March 14, 2011

Yes, JPD, that's ostensibly what I am looking for. I am fully aware I could build something out in excel, and I've done some work with MCMC in the past. However, as I clearly stated I am interested in avoiding that solution if another solution already exists. Answers to the effect of "Use excel" are, therefore, not what I am looking for. Thanks.

As a sidenote, I am pretty sure I saw a feature like I describe in a piece of financial planning software but I can't remember what it was. You would build "periods" - say, your 20s where your salary jumps quite quickly from year to year (hopefully), your 30s where perhaps you slow your retirement savings a bit in order to accumulate a down payment for a house, your 40s where you accelerate savings, etc.
posted by mbatch at 10:25 AM on March 14, 2011

This one lets you specify custom "additional incomes" with start and end dates.
posted by emilyw at 10:57 AM on March 14, 2011

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