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Friday, August 24, 2012

The Value of Retirement Plan Calculators

Source:  Capital Pixel
Usually the longer we have to solve a problem, the better the chances we have of coming up with a viable answer.  This presupposes we actually give it some thought.  Even mulling it over gets its circulating in the subconscious--which neural scientists tell us is a good thing in the problem-solving process.  As a side benefit, maybe it pushes aside some nutty notions floating around in there as well.

Anyway, this seems to me to be a reason for those in their 40s and early 50s to begin playing around with retirement calculators. Although you have plenty of time to go before you exit the work force, you'll see if you are on the right track and, most importantly, you'll be introduced to the important financial determinants of a successful retirement.

There are a number of good calculators online.  One I like is the AARP retirement calculator.  It is simple, straightforward, and asks the basic questions.  It doesn't get you into Monte Carlo analysis and a lot of mumbo jumbo about your portfolio allocation.  It has straightforward assumptions built in, which you can change if you want.

By going through the questions, it focuses you on your saving, social security, when you plan to stop working full time, etc.  It asks about the lifestyle you contemplate in retirement.  An important side benefit is it should get you and your spouse talking and thinking about these issues.

As an advisor, I can tell you that, more often than not, I have seen couples surprised at their spouses' answers when these questions have come up.

The earlier you begin playing around with these kinds of calculators, the easier you will find it to make adjustments to get on the right path.  If you google "retirement plan calculators," you'll come up with several in addition to the AARP calculator.

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