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Retirement Planning Software Recommendations?
Old 03-11-2008, 04:28 PM   #1
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Retirement Planning Software Recommendations?

I'm a numbers guy, so I like the details. I have looked at and passed on a few, I did buy Real World Retirement about 5 years ago and it's a decent basic package. But as I get closer to actually retiring (2-4 years?) I'd like something better/more detailed. Just thought I'd ask for first hand recommendations, what better place than here?
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Old 03-11-2008, 04:58 PM   #2
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I think you will find most here use spread sheets they have created and FIRECALC.
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Old 03-12-2008, 11:09 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Midpack View Post
Just thought I'd ask for first hand recommendations, what better place than here?
I'd say that you could run conventional FIRECalc, Monte-Carlo FIRECalc, and FinancialEngines.com.

Beyond that you're just indulging your passion for data entry.
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Old 03-13-2008, 08:21 AM   #4
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I've used ESPlanner for years, but as far as online calculators, my favorite is:

Online Monte Carlo Retirement Planner
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Old 03-13-2008, 05:19 PM   #5
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I've used ESPlanner for years, but as far as online calculators, my favorite is:

Online Monte Carlo Retirement Planner
I enjoyed playing with that, thanks for the link. I am leaning toward buying ESPlanner too. For my money, more than worth $199 to have more info.
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Old 03-13-2008, 07:53 PM   #6
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Just got ESPlanner... confusing as all get-out. I'm going to walk through the tutorial to see if that helps.
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Old 06-08-2008, 09:52 AM   #7
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So what do you think of E$planner?
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Old 06-09-2008, 07:45 AM   #8
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I bought this monte carlo for 29 bucks and it works great. Hard to beat for that price. Monte Carlo Retirement Calculator -- MCRetire
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Old 06-09-2008, 08:39 AM   #9
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I'm glad this thread was "reactivated" since I was about to start a new one on the subject, related to E$Planner.

After reading comments on the related book "Spend till the End", I started looking again on the E$Planner site.

The "situation" for me is that I'm retired (age 60) and no longer making contribtutions to any retirement plan. I/DW are at a time in life that we have no financial obligations (house/cars/CC all paid off). My DW, while still employed, expects to retire in the next year (not yet "emotionally ready").

Anyway, using the financial forecast tools at our disposal (FIRECalc, Vanguard's F.E., Fidelity's RIP - full version) along with our "annual checkup" provided by both Vanguard and Fidelity (with their representatives), show that we will have more than enough to "live the life we have become accustomed" till our plan age of 100. In fact, F.E. shows us "much better than needed" since you cannot plug in a "date of passing". It uses established tables that show that we could be spending (if we would wish) much more than we are.

While the $199 price of E$Planner (download, Plus version) is not a problem to me (OK, it is! I'm "frugal" - no actually I'm "cheap" ), I question the possible "value" to me.

If it says I don't have enough to retire, it dosen't matter (I'm already retired). The "impacts to retirement" (per the web site review) don't apply. No education costs to consider, no "next generation" to worry about, no mortgage or other debt.

The only thing it could possibly tell me is that I could spend more (as F.E. is telling me, today). Even if I felt confident spending more, I probably would not (hey, I'm happy - that's all that counts, isn't it?)

What am I missing? Please feel to contribute your comments.

- Ron
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Old 06-09-2008, 09:52 AM   #10
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Quote:
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Beyond that you're just indulging your passion for data entry.
I think theres a few months of eye rubbing and disbelief over whether you can really get away with retiring thats salved by having a bunch of miniature oracles tell you that yes, you really can do it.

Past having at least 25x your regular budget invested, a decent asset allocation, the willingness to spend reasonably, avoid taking on too little or too much risk, and that whole agile/mobile/hostile thing...the rest is just mathematical masturbation.

Monte Carlo's often throw off numbers that are too conservative or too liberal. Much of the time they lack the correlative factors. Firecalc-type historic data planners rely on the past actions of asset classes performing similarly in the future, when they may in fact do no such thing. Your budget may take wild changes in response to inflation, health care issues, unexpected events and major changes. You have no idea what your actual life span will be.

Best tools I came away with from having analyzed the analyzers is to be prudent and improvise where needed.
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Old 06-09-2008, 09:53 AM   #11
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I agree with Nords. I have tried several on-line calculators but the two I have relied on the most are FIRECalc and Financial Engines.
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Old 06-09-2008, 10:00 AM   #12
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I agree with Nords. I have tried several on-line calculators but the two I have relied on the most are FIRECalc and Financial Engines.
Same here.

I'm beginning to wonder if we were separated at birth...
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Old 06-09-2008, 10:17 AM   #13
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REWahoo,

I was told I was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, of course that's just hearsay!
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Old 06-09-2008, 10:29 AM   #14
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Jake, 250 miles south of Tulsa for me, or so I was told...
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Old 06-09-2008, 11:02 AM   #15
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I do am reading Spend Til The End and am thinking about ESPlanner, mostly as a check. I am about to pull the trigger and think that I have covered all of my bases, but just want another confirmation. I too am a numbers person, and am always looking for affirmation that the decision is correct. Do any of the users feel that it offered them something they were unable to get from other online calculators? One thing that I see it does is deal with taxes on an actual year by year basis, instead of the broad brush x% that I currently use in my spreadsheets. Are there other benefits?
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Old 06-09-2008, 12:21 PM   #16
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I probably shouldn't comment yet as I just finished Spend til The End on Saturday and bought (I was leaning toward buying it anyway) ESPlanner Plus on Sunday. I have plugged in all my numbers, although some are estimates that need to be tweaked. The first 'consumption smoothing' result said we could save much less and afford to spend 61% more in real dollars than our current expense budget!!! I have no intention of increasing spending at all, but it's reassuring nonetheless. As I said in my original post, I am a numbers guy (Engineer) so I want the details. I have developed a pretty elaborate spreadsheet over the years that I am pretty proud of, although there are others here undoubtedly more talented. After reading STTE, I concluded that I may never reach the point I can play with as many variables with my own spreadsheet as I can with ESPlanner Plus. More sophisticated treatment of fed & state taxes, ease of varying annuities (I don't plan to buy one), Monte Carlo integrated, etc. let's me see any combination of assumptions I might want. So $199 is a bargain IMHO.

For the poster who is already retired, I wouldn't see much benefit. I am at least 2 years from RE, so I wanted another 'double check.' I realize there are too many uncertainties for anything to predict long term success greater than about 80% (W Bernstein), but I'd rather have a solid plan based on conservative assumptions and contingencies built it, before I pull the trigger.
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Target WR: Approx 2.5% Approx 20% SI (secure income, SS only)
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Old 06-09-2008, 09:23 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by Midpack View Post
I probably shouldn't comment yet as I just finished Spend til The End on Saturday and bought (I was leaning toward buying it anyway) ESPlanner Plus on Sunday. I have plugged in all my numbers, although some are estimates that need to be tweaked. The first 'consumption smoothing' result said we could save much less and afford to spend 61% more in real dollars than our current expense budget!!! I have no intention of increasing spending at all, but it's reassuring nonetheless. As I said in my original post, I am a numbers guy (Engineer) so I want the details. I have developed a pretty elaborate spreadsheet over the years that I am pretty proud of, although there are others here undoubtedly more talented. After reading STTE, I concluded that I may never reach the point I can play with as many variables with my own spreadsheet as I can with ESPlanner Plus. More sophisticated treatment of fed & state taxes, ease of varying annuities (I don't plan to buy one), Monte Carlo integrated, etc. let's me see any combination of assumptions I might want. So $199 is a bargain IMHO.

For the poster who is already retired, I wouldn't see much benefit. I am at least 2 years from RE, so I wanted another 'double check.' I realize there are too many uncertainties for anything to predict long term success greater than about 80% (W Bernstein), but I'd rather have a solid plan based on conservative assumptions and contingencies built it, before I pull the trigger.
Let us know how ESPlanner Plus checks out. It sounds interesting at $199.
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ESPlanner for retirees
Old 06-10-2008, 07:18 AM   #18
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ESPlanner for retirees

Unlike Midpack, I can see large benefits in using ESPlanner for those who are already retired, particularly those in their 50's, 60's, and early 70's.

Here are some of the questions it can help answer.
- When should I take SS?
- If I took SS early was that a mistake, and would I be better off withdrawing and re-applying or suspending?
- How should my spouse and I time our taking of our SS benefits?
- Should I take out a reverse mortgage?
- Should I downsize, or downsize and rent?
- Should I gift now and over time, or bequest at death?
- What's the best way to make charitable contributions?
- What are the risk/reward trade-offs to my living standard of different portfolio asset allocations?
- Should I invest at least some of the retirement portfolio in real life income annuities? (Hint the answer here is almost always yes, unless your health is very poor.)
- What is the survivorship status of either surviving spouse when the partner dies?

Robert K
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Old 06-10-2008, 09:06 AM   #19
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Unlike Midpack, I can see large benefits in using ESPlanner for those who are already retired, particularly those in their 50's, 60's, and early 70's.

Here are some of the questions it can help answer.
- When should I take SS?
- If I took SS early was that a mistake, and would I be better off withdrawing and re-applying or suspending?
- How should my spouse and I time our taking of our SS benefits?
- Should I take out a reverse mortgage?
- Should I downsize, or downsize and rent?
- Should I gift now and over time, or bequest at death?
- What's the best way to make charitable contributions?
- What are the risk/reward trade-offs to my living standard of different portfolio asset allocations?
- Should I invest at least some of the retirement portfolio in real life income annuities? (Hint the answer here is almost always yes, unless your health is very poor.)
- What is the survivorship status of either surviving spouse when the partner dies?

Robert K
They'll never sell another copy now!
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Old 06-10-2008, 12:38 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert8 View Post
Unlike Midpack, I can see large benefits in using ESPlanner for those who are already retired, particularly those in their 50's, 60's, and early 70's.

Here are some of the questions it can help answer.
- When should I take SS?
- If I took SS early was that a mistake, and would I be better off withdrawing and re-applying or suspending?
- How should my spouse and I time our taking of our SS benefits?
- Should I take out a reverse mortgage?
- Should I downsize, or downsize and rent?
- Should I gift now and over time, or bequest at death?
- What's the best way to make charitable contributions?
- What are the risk/reward trade-offs to my living standard of different portfolio asset allocations?
- Should I invest at least some of the retirement portfolio in real life income annuities? (Hint the answer here is almost always yes, unless your health is very poor.)
- What is the survivorship status of either surviving spouse when the partner dies?

Robert K
I have used ESPlanner for a couple of years now, and agree with your comments. I think it is extremely useful to see how different choices could affect your "relative" standard of living. I do not use their absolute values because of the points I make in my post below. Please see comments on ESPlanner here
Savings Targets Overstated?
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