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Pralana Retirement Calculator
Old 02-13-2013, 03:42 PM   #1
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Pralana Retirement Calculator

Anyone had experience with the Pralana Calculator? It's only $69 but I don't want to throw away my money....
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Old 02-13-2013, 03:57 PM   #2
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No, but if you like it you will be paying for annual updates:

As a buyer of this product, can I get a price break on future updates? Our plan is to update PRC annually with revised tax tables and other enhancements, and to send discount coupons to all licensees for use in purchasing updates.
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Old 02-13-2013, 03:59 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by heeyy_joe View Post
No, but if you like it you will be paying for annual updates:

As a buyer of this product, can I get a price break on future updates? Our plan is to update PRC annually with revised tax tables and other enhancements, and to send discount coupons to all licensees for use in purchasing updates.
Yes, I saw that. I think it is $10/year
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Old 02-13-2013, 04:02 PM   #4
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Never heard of this calculator and reading all the marketing fluff on the web site leaves a bad taste in my mouth. A lot fizzy words with little substance.

Quote:
Performs Monte Carlo simulation to calculate the probability that our savings will outlast us despite annually varying rates of return? Yes

Performs Monte Carlo simulation using my specific investment portfolio? No
No thanks.
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Old 02-13-2013, 05:06 PM   #5
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A lot fizzy words with little substance.

Performs Monte Carlo simulation to calculate the probability that our savings will outlast us despite annually varying rates of return? Yes

Performs Monte Carlo simulation using my specific investment portfolio?
I agree. The same thing from Firecalc is free.
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Old 02-13-2013, 05:12 PM   #6
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OK, maybe I should expand this thread. I found a list of calculators for sale here. Anyone have experience with any of these that make them better than FireCalc or Fidelity RIP?
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Old 02-13-2013, 05:43 PM   #7
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Several posters here have commented (mostly favorably) on these (and probably others that I've forgotten about):

AnalyzeNow!
ESPlanner
Financial Engines
Flexible Retirement Planner
Optimal Retirement Planner
T. Rowe Price Retirement Income Calculator
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Old 02-13-2013, 05:55 PM   #8
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OK, maybe I should expand this thread. I found a list of calculators for sale here. Anyone have experience with any of these that make them better than FireCalc or Fidelity RIP?
Actually, my favorite is Quicken Lifetime Planner which is not on the list in the link and is included in Quicken Deluxe and higher. It is very easy to use and draws amounts from Quicken if you have your investment portfolio on Quicken. I have also used it to help some friends with retirement planning and just plugged in their tickers and shares.

While it isn't perfect, I think it is a good, simple, easy-to-use deterministic planner.

I supplement Lifetime Planner with Firecalc (and others), but I think for many people that lifetime Planner is more intuitive and easy to use than Firecalc. Lifetime Planner is also a good tool for people to think through the information that they need to do a reasonable retirement financial plan.
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Old 02-13-2013, 06:18 PM   #9
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I agree. The same thing from Firecalc is free.
Or if you choose to make a donation, still very low cost and worth every penny.

Just thought I'd put a plug in there, as Firecalc is so useful, it's well worth making a donation to.
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Old 02-13-2013, 06:30 PM   #10
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Oh! I misspoke again. I meant that was the same thing that FireCalc promises. (as in the "little substance" comment.)
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Old 02-13-2013, 06:52 PM   #11
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Oh! I misspoke again. I meant that was the same thing that FireCalc promises. (as in the "little substance" comment.)
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Old 02-13-2013, 07:27 PM   #12
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No, sorry.
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Originally Posted by cinman2000 View Post
Anyone had experience with the Pralana calculator ?..
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Old 02-13-2013, 08:12 PM   #13
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I agree. The same thing from Firecalc is free.
FIRECALC is not Monte Carlo.

I'm not a fan of Monte Carlo for this use. Different asset classes have acted differently over time, and probably not randomly. So do the programmers try to add some correlation? Do they add enough, too much?


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Old 02-13-2013, 11:32 PM   #14
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At the risk...

At the risk of starting a slide in the thread, there are three major issues with MC simulators.

1) MC uses a distribution curve..most are uniform or normal distributions. This generates random numbers with equal frequency. Uniform distribution means that all returns will occur at an equal frequency, normal distribution will look like a bell curve. Problem: In reality, the distribution curve is significantly different. Market History shows that the distribution changes over time...typically it flattens over time...resulting in MC models not reflecting the entire retirement period accurately.

2) Outcomes are generated randomly in a single long rising trend (with variation along the trend. Problem: In reality, actual market history has long period secular trends (secular sideways, secular bull, secular bear) and Runaway Bulls.

3) Finally, unrealistic sequence of returns. Most MC simulators ignore extremes such as multiple year, back-to-back "streaks." Think of it this way...MC uses a bell curve and reality looks like a 4 humped bell curve around the four market trends noted above.

The results don't match reality.

Firecalc and Otar's calculators use historical returns and sequence of returns. While this doesn't have every POTENTIAL outcome, it is a better simulation of the likely outcomes than MC.

YMMV
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Old 02-14-2013, 06:10 AM   #15
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Anyone had experience with the Pralana Calculator? It's only $69 but I don't want to throw away my money....
I just checked out the Pralana and I think you can get the same info with all the free calcs out there.

Having said that, I recently dropped some $$ for ESPlanner Plus and have absolutely no regrets and find it a very powerful tool in the decision process of whether to ER or not. You can start with the free online ESPlanner Basic to check it out.

I will say that FIRECalc and ORP results are in the ballpark as far as spendable money in ER, but ESP gives you the fine tuned details on a yearly basis with accurate SS and taxes (both Fed and State) figured in. ESP also takes into account portfolio asset classes in its MC simulation.

Feel free to PM me if you would like more info on ESP
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Old 02-14-2013, 09:48 AM   #16
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Actually, my favorite is Quicken Lifetime Planner which is not on the list in the link and is included in Quicken Deluxe and higher. It is very easy to use and draws amounts from Quicken if you have your investment portfolio on Quicken.
I really like Quicken Lifetime Planner in that it uses the actual numbers from your accounts so you can periodically check that you are still on track. I also like that you can check the numbers for each year during the calculations and see what is exactly happening to your accounts. For example, you can see that money is being transferred from tax deferred to taxable over time. You can see how much of the RMDs are excess.

A couple of complaints I have is that it does not seem to handle tax exempt correctly and I would like to see more flexibility with handling tax rates over time.

But with any planner the real question is the assumptions. Garbage in, garbage out. So much depends on your assumed rate of return, inflation, and estimated effective tax rate. The more conservative you can be the better.
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Old 02-14-2013, 11:58 AM   #17
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FIRECALC is not Monte Carlo.

I'm not a fan of Monte Carlo for this use. Different asset classes have acted differently over time, and probably not randomly. So do the programmers try to add some correlation? Do they add enough, too much?


-ERD50
What about this option on the My Portfolio tab
Quote:
A portfolio with random performance, with a mean total portfolio return of (X)% and variability (standard deviation) of (Y) %. Assume an inflation rate of (Z) %.
Isn't this a form of Monte Carlo simulation? Or if not, how does it differ?
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Old 02-14-2013, 12:53 PM   #18
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Yes, the 'random performance' option on the My Portfolio tab is a Monte Carlo simulation. Dory36 added it as an option to the historical look at portfolio performance.

I don't think I've ever used that option as the ability to test your portfolio against actual history is what differentiates FIRECalc from almost all other retirement calculators.
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Old 02-15-2013, 12:23 AM   #19
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Yes, the 'random performance' option on the My Portfolio tab is a Monte Carlo simulation. Dory36 added it as an option to the historical look at portfolio performance.

I don't think I've ever used that option as the ability to test your portfolio against actual history is what differentiates FIRECalc from almost all other retirement calculators.
Sure...being a fraidy cat I like to check both ways, historical and Monte Carlo, although for the Monte Carlo I usually use Flexible Retirement Planner. I guess that's my version of a "belt & suspenders" approach to portfolio testing. If it survives anything that has happened in history, and also thousands of random, non-historical simulations, I am pretty confident it will probably survive more or less anything that will happen in the actual future, except "the end of the world as we know it". My weaselly wording is deliberate--I can't really be certain of any such thing. But if I make 100% survival of both types of models my definition of portfolio success, at least I won't be putting myself in a situation which I know in advance is likely to fail.
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Old 02-15-2013, 07:01 AM   #20
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I don't think I've ever used that option as the ability to test your portfolio against actual history is what differentiates FIRECalc from almost all other retirement calculators.
Of course, most of the data is for the US, and post 1871. If we assume that countries go through cycles in their economic development, or at least take recognizable paths, it would be illuminating to see FIRECalc using a UK data set, a German data set, a Japanese data set, etc. Given the many changes in the US (politically, demographically, culturally) in even the last 40 years, it seems a stretch to expect our performance to be a recycle of even a jumbled version of the last 140 years (which have been spectacularly good for the US). It's certainly a valuable tool (I'm obviously relying on its output), but it would be interesting to plop in a set of numbers for another modern, developed country and see how things turn out. That Permanent Portfolio idea might shine a bit brighter for me!
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