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Financial Planning Software...?
Old 05-20-2014, 12:01 PM   #1
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Financial Planning Software...?

Hi,

I'm curious as to what Financial planning software ERF folks use, if any.

I'm most interested in being able to do forecasts and projections and being able to enter investments, retirement accounts, other assets, debts, incomes and expenses (now and projected), estimated return and inflation rates, etc., and being able to adjust these variables for "what if" scenarios. Not really interested in downloading financial data, budgets, etc, as I do those in spreadsheets.

In addition to some spreadsheets I use, I also use the Lifetime Planner from Micrsoft Money, which is no longer sold or updated. i like MS Money Lifetime Planner, so is there anything similar or better, or should I just continue to use it and not worry that it is no longer supported?

Any suggestions or ideas would be appreciated. Thanks!
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Old 05-20-2014, 12:47 PM   #2
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Like many here, I use spreadsheets for everything, and don't rely on any commercial software. I know Excel very well thanks to my former career, otherwise I might use software. It's more work to grow my own, but I've learned a great deal about financial planning developing spreadsheets. I can change any and all inputs or assumptions, unlike commercial software. And I have the advantage of knowing all the underlying assumptions/calculations - you don't always know with commercial software.

What I don't do with spreadsheets (cost basis, tax dividend/CG info, some fund research), Vanguard does for me most ably. Fidelity has some even better tools, but I don't have accounts with them any more.

At least one of our cohorts will be along shortly to recommend Quicken, specifically the Lifetime Planner feature IIRC. I did use that when it was a standalone product years ago, and found it very helpful indeed, but I don't believe it's a separate package any more - now integrated into Quicken.
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Old 05-20-2014, 12:53 PM   #3
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I use Quicken to track expenses, portfolio values and transactions.

In the past, I used ESPlanner for "what if" exercises to figure out when it would be beneficial to take SS, what would worst case outcomes be etc.

I don't try to forecast my portfolio performance any more. Seems like a waste of time to me. I use an AA & SWR method that has passed the historical test, and remain flexible in my spending.
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Old 05-20-2014, 01:04 PM   #4
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I use Quicken Lifetime Planner for 'what ifs'. But I also use homegrown spreadsheets etc.

I used to have access to financial engines calculators through my 401k - but due to corporate sell offs, I no longer have access to that. You could fiddle with the data and "what if".

Fidelity RIP is good if you're fidelity customer.

Firecalc lets you twiddle all the returns, inflation, etc if you delve into some of the tabs.
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Old 05-20-2014, 01:59 PM   #5
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Fidelity RIP is good if you're fidelity customer.
Just one point: you don't have to be a customer, but you do have to register.
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Old 05-20-2014, 02:18 PM   #6
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Firecalc, Fidelity RIP, Financial Engines (free to VG clients), ESPlanner. The Bogleheads has a listing of financial calculators, both paid and free, and as as a description of each. Sorry I'm unable to post the link now, but you can do a search on the BH site.
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Old 05-20-2014, 03:34 PM   #7
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Quote:
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Firecalc, Fidelity RIP, Financial Engines (free to VG clients), ESPlanner. The Bogleheads has a listing of financial calculators, both paid and free, and as as a description of each. Sorry I'm unable to post the link now, but you can do a search on the BH site.
One of these I am guessing...

Retirement calculators and spending - Bogleheads

Tools and calculators - Bogleheads
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Old 05-20-2014, 08:38 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by ajs56 View Post
...

I'm most interested in being able to do forecasts and projections ...
If you find some software that can do forecasts and projections, will you please PM me? We don't want everyone to know!

As others have said, you can see how you might have done historically, or you can allow a programmer to create some (typically undocumented) algorithm and call it 'Monte Carlo', or enter your guesses, but I prefer a historical look for a reference.


-ERD50
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Old 05-20-2014, 09:07 PM   #9
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Thanks for all the thoughts and references folks. I will check out the Boglehead links and several of the other ones mentioned above. I realize that any projections are guesses, hopefully educated to some degree, but I like being able to change parameters to see how different things affect outcomes. Thanks again. This is a great community!
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Old 05-20-2014, 09:16 PM   #10
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I should also add that right now I am finding blogs by Wade Pfau, Michael Kitces, and Dick Cotton to be most informative. Pfau, in particular, covers some great topics such as healthcare spending throughout retirement, dynamic versus static withdrawal rates and their important impact on PF success, SS sustainability, and sequence of returns impact. I find the comments from financial planners extremely informative as well, as they are responses/questions to Pfau's research and how it impacts their own work and success with clients.
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Old 05-20-2014, 10:49 PM   #11
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I really like Flexible Retirement Planner. It is a java based simulator that has a ton of flexibility and uses Monte Carlo simulations. It is a pretty cool tool.
Documentation | The Flexible Retirement Planner
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Old 05-20-2014, 11:09 PM   #12
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I will guess that every software for planning will show the obvious:
***DON"T PANIC***
yet
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Old 05-21-2014, 05:36 AM   #13
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My primary planner is Quicken Lifetime Planner as I find it easy to use and covers a lot of ground and is pretty flexible (albeit imperfect). Since QLP is a deterministic planner, I supplement it with some stochastic analysis using FireCalc and other free tools using the same assumptions as I use in QLP.
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Old 05-21-2014, 08:03 AM   #14
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I really like Flexible Retirement Planner. It is a java based simulator that has a ton of flexibility and uses Monte Carlo simulations. It is a pretty cool tool.
Documentation | The Flexible Retirement Planner

Thanks for the link Rdub. I looked over the info on the website and FRP looks pretty nice. It appears to have a lot of the variables and input pramaters that MS Money Lifetime Planner has, with the Monte Carlo calcs as an added bonus. I will give it a test drive as soon as I get a chance. Thanks again!
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Old 05-21-2014, 08:05 AM   #15
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My primary planner is Quicken Lifetime Planner as I find it easy to use and covers a lot of ground and is pretty flexible (albeit imperfect). Since QLP is a deterministic planner, I supplement it with some stochastic analysis using FireCalc and other free tools using the same assumptions as I use in QLP.

Thanks for the info pb4, I will do some research and check out QLP when I get a chance.
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Old 05-21-2014, 01:31 PM   #16
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Thanks for the link Rdub. I looked over the info on the website and FRP looks pretty nice. It appears to have a lot of the variables and input pramaters that MS Money Lifetime Planner has, with the Monte Carlo calcs as an added bonus. I will give it a test drive as soon as I get a chance. Thanks again!
Yes, used that as well.
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Old 05-22-2014, 08:09 AM   #17
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As a Fidelity client, I used their RIP software for my longer-term planning (beyond age 65, mainly). However, I learned a few things from their programs so I built them into my homemade spreadsheets I use for my nearer term planning (before age 65). FOr me, it is a Best-of-Both-Worlds scenario.
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Old 05-27-2014, 08:38 AM   #18
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As a Fidelity client, I used their RIP software for my longer-term planning (beyond age 65, mainly). However, I learned a few things from their programs so I built them into my homemade spreadsheets I use for my nearer term planning (before age 65). FOr me, it is a Best-of-Both-Worlds scenario.
Thanks, scrabbler!
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