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Old 05-11-2016, 12:50 PM   #1
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Retirement Planning Tools

Hi All,

Back from Netherlands and France ...way good experience!

So, the experience makes my leave megacorp finger very twitchy ... :-)

Was looking at the Fidelity retirement planning tool ... and have previously used FIRECalc. Both left me wanting more and different for separate reasons. Always had the sense that Fidelity was maneuvering me back to them for advice ... and, when I asked it for their version of better allocation, the funds all came back 1%+ in fees ... exasperated me.

Vanguard didn't really seem to have anything like this. I heard TR Price does, but I don't have funds there.

Are there other tools that are "independent" and offer suitable touch and feel characteristics with greater flexibility to load everything in and play "what if"? (PS ...I don't necessarily need the tool to pull data from accounts in real time)

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Old 05-11-2016, 01:14 PM   #2
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What about the Fidelity & FIRECALC tools left you wanting? Might be easier to recommend if we knew that.

Vanguard has some fair tools, but they may be only for members?

And of course you would have to expect any tool offered by a commercial firm is going to steer you to their offerings, like your Fidelity experience. IME the Vanguard tools offered low ER index funds FWIW.

The big downfall with online tools for me is tax planning, but most of them ignore or do a very poor job including taxes. While we can't predict future tax structure, the tools could use current rates with sensitivity choices to at least offer some ballpark. So like others, I have to manually do tax planning separately.

No one agrees with other people's opinions; they merely agree with their own opinions -- expressed by somebody else. Sydney Tremayne
Retired Jun 2011 at age 57

Target AA: 60% equity funds / 35% bond funds / 5% cash
Target WR: Approx 2.5% Approx 20% SI (secure income, SS only)
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Old 05-11-2016, 01:41 PM   #3
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Are you wanting tools to suggest to you an asset allocation and then a selection of Magic Funds?

Do you want to do data mining of past performance and select a carefully chosen set of past performers? Try

I don't think any tool can predict the future very well, so you have just rough it and go with the flow. For instance, you have basically two choices for asset allocation I think:

1. Total market weights which at is considered the "3-fund portfolio". You get to pick the percentages of Total US Stock Index, Total International Stock Index, and Total US Bond index. Vanguard LifeStrategy and Target Retirement funds are variations of this kind of portfolio, so you can just copy them.


2. Small-cap and value-weighted portfolios. Betterment, Wealthfront, DFA advisors and some others advocate these kinds of portfolios. One starts with something like the Portfolio 1 (see above) and then adds US small-cap value and foreign small-cap funds.

One simply adjusts the ratio of equities to fixed income to arrive at a portfolio that satisfies your ability to take risk, need to take risk, and willingness to take risk (as discussed by Larry Swedroe).

Other than that, it is all about how much you can save and invest during the accumulation phase and how much your expenses are in the decumulation phase.

Pretty simple I think. No magic to be seen anywhere.
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Old 05-11-2016, 02:28 PM   #4
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I think Quicken Lifetime Planner is great for a basic planning... the only downfall is that it is a deterministic planner (albeit a pretty comprehensive one). QLP is the core of my planning supplemented by Firecalc (using the same assumptions as much as possible) to stress test for sequence of returns risk.
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Old 05-11-2016, 02:32 PM   #5
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You could use the Fidelity planner for AA and then make your own choices of low cost funds or ETF's.
"The mountains are calling, and I must go." John Muir
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Old 05-11-2016, 03:06 PM   #6
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To Midpack's point ... I guess I wanted something more flexible and inclusive that had ability to input accounts, real estate by category of investment or home, fund totals by type of funds (if not fund by fund), assign alignment to either retirement or to hold for heirs /// sort of a super version of the Fidelity modeling tool.

Vanguard has a series of smaller spreadsheet sort of tools, with lots of advice, but nothing that models like the Fidelity tool does.

I may be rambling a bit ... sorry ... too much of brain is asking, "If I quit now, and have enough money, WHAT THE HECK AM I GONNA DO TOMORROW?"
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Old 05-11-2016, 08:33 PM   #7
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Darrow Kirkpatrick writes a nice blog on early retirement. He has done reviews of retirement calculators in these posts:
My Favorite Retirement Calculators - Can I Retire Yet?
The Best Retirement Calculators - Can I Retire Yet?

Trying some of these out should keep you busy for awhile.
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Old 05-12-2016, 04:00 AM   #8
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I used online retirement calculators a lot before ER. I thought I would keep revisiting them afterward, but I haven't.

"Wealth consists not in having great possessions, but in having few wants."
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