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ESPlanner Basic - Free
Old 04-19-2009, 11:29 AM   #1
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ESPlanner Basic - Free

Saw this info on another forum. ESPLanner is now offering a "basic" version of their retirement planner for free.

Anyone use their paid version? I have fiddled around with the basic for a little...the jury is still out for me. I have thought about purchasing the fee version, but not sure now after seeing the basic version.

Any thoughts?

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Old 04-19-2009, 11:49 AM   #2
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I haven't used the paid version. I tried the "basic" version just now, and wasn't very impressed, either. Basically all it told me was that I could spend around 3.5% of my assets, something that I had computed all by myself in Excel.

I thought it was pretty unsophisticated, and that (for me) the phrasing of some of the questions seemed ambiguous.
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Old 04-19-2009, 11:55 AM   #3
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You may wish to look at

Optimal Retirement Calculator and Retirement Decision Support System

for a pretty sophisticated on-line planner. For one thing, it incorporates asset location (eg., IRA, Roth, taxable) and tax optimization, and provides detail annual projections.
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Old 04-19-2009, 11:56 AM   #4
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I just tried it. I don't think much of it. It looks like it just tries to spend assets to 0. Any spread sheet could do the same.
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Old 04-19-2009, 12:10 PM   #5
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William,

Thanks for the link. I just tried the ESPlannerBasic and was not impressed; but, The Optimal Retirement Planner looks more interesting.
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Old 04-19-2009, 12:27 PM   #6
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If I operated it correctly, the Optimal Retirement Planner told me I could spend over 5%. That's a little too optimistic for me. But these planners are all interesting.
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Old 04-19-2009, 01:51 PM   #7
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They both look like "fixed investment returns, known date of death". I was hoping that ESPlanner would be a lot more.
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Old 04-19-2009, 01:58 PM   #8
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If I operated it correctly, the Optimal Retirement Planner told me I could spend over 5%. That's a little too optimistic for me. But these planners are all interesting.
Yep. Worked that way for me also, and will still continue to try and average south of 4%.

In the end it is interesting to see how these different tools "work the numbers", but I wouldn't want to follow any one of them too closely. One thing about ORP I like is the tax optimization strategy; Roth conversion recommendations, Roth usage during retirement, balancing account withdrawals to best take advantage of marginal tax rates.
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Old 04-19-2009, 02:12 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tgotch View Post
Saw this info on another forum. ESPLanner is now offering a "basic" version of their retirement planner for free.

Anyone use their paid version? I have fiddled around with the basic for a little...the jury is still out for me. I have thought about purchasing the fee version, but not sure now after seeing the basic version.

Any thoughts?

Home | ESPlannerBasic
I have ESPlanner Plus (Monte Carlo). If you want to model income smoothing, it's pretty hard to do without something like ESPlanner. Having said that, it's not for novices and it's a little quirky. I learned a lot using it, but not sure I'd spend $200 again to buy it.
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Old 04-21-2009, 11:59 AM   #10
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I have used ESPlanner for a while, but find it of limited use to figure out absolute values of what to spend each year. Instead, I find it more useful to try 'what-if' scenarios.

The latest version of the monte-carlo ESPlanner allows you to model a conservative spending strategy, so is much better than the previous agressive spending model.

Also, there are so many unknowns out there, that consumption smoothing is, imho, very dicey to get right. Will SS payments keep up with CPI in the future? Will taxes stay the same? What happens to Healthcare insurance premiums, medicare etc. Even small changes in these factors translate into major changes in consumption. I still, however, pay the $50 annual fee (yes, there is one to get the latest versions) and use the software as explained above.

Here are my previous comments on ESPlanner
Savings Targets Overstated?
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Old 04-21-2009, 07:51 PM   #11
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I paid for the older version and used it for a month or so and found it a little cumbersome. I returned it and they gave me a full refund, no questions asked, and told me to keep it. I don't use it though.
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