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Compare retirement planners & simulators
Old 05-08-2009, 04:20 PM   #1
Confused about dryer sheets
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Compare retirement planners & simulators

I began putting together a spreadsheet to compare the features of different common retirement planners and simulators. It's in its early stages, and I think it would benefit from input from forum users.

I want it to compare features of each of the following retirement planners & calculators, and maybe others that seem to merit consideration:

Flexible Retirement Planner
Quantext Portfolio Planner
Optimal Retirement Planner
ESP Planner (Basic)
ESP Planner (paid version(s))
Financial Engines

It would benefit from input from the authors, proprietors, and users of these programs -- some of whom are part of this forum.

I would like to get a user's (or better yet, the author's) description on FIRECalc's features, as they relate to the features in the spreadsheet. If you think additional features need to be added to the spreadsheet, let me know.

I have an initial list of features/attributes I think are important -- I'm sure others will think of others to add. So far, it concentrates on features present or absent in my own TIP$TER program and what I understand of Jim Richmond's Flexible Retirement Planner program.

In the spirit of full disclosure, my program is free for personal use. Also, I haven't made a penny off of it, and don't necessarily expect to. But with all the back-and-forth on -- and misunderstanding of -- particular programs, it would be useful to have a broad comparative analysis of the different programs, including their relative pros and cons.

I have posted a similar message on the Boglehead forum. So far, I am not aware of any resource that does an in-depth comparison of these calculators -- or that explains why they sometimes give different results. (These differences may be due to differences in mathematical assumptions, but these are not always disclosed).

Here it is:

If anyone would like to edit the spreadsheet, please e-mail your changes to me at eric @ Otherwise feel free to post your suggestions here.

Better yet, if someone knows how to post the spreadsheet somewhere where it can be edited by all, that might be more practical.

I also welcome the users here and forum moderators to post information from the spreadsheet, as it is edited by users, on their own websites if they so desire. This isn't intended to be for me (after all, I am the first to admit that my own program lacks some pretty important features like taking taxes into account; but no one's paying me to do it, so it is what it is), but rather for the public. The fact is, the comparisons that currently exist online don't go into nearly enough depth.

Let the evaluation, discussion and debate about relative merits begin.

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Old 05-09-2009, 11:42 AM   #2
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Location: Denver
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row 32,33,34 & 35 are all Yes for ES Planner Plus.

Thanks for putting this together.

My complaint with the implementation of asset allocation in these programs is that it is not realistic. Most of us have an asset allocation that spans our taxable, tax-deferred and tax-exempt accounts. I'd like to see these programs implement an asset allocation across accounts, and use a few rules to determine which assets go where - eg, bonds first in tax-exempt accounts, etc. I have suggested this to ESPlanner's developers, and while they agree with the request, it isn't a priority for them.

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Old 05-09-2009, 02:30 PM   #3
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Unfortunately, I got an error message: Microsoft Excel cannot open the workbook because it is corrupt.
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