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Financial Fitness: Easy to Use Retirement Calculators

      
The first of the "Baby Boomers”, defined by Wikipedia and most sources as those born between the years 1946 and 1964, are now starting to retire in large numbers. The ability to retire at any age implies you will have the financial means to cover expenses and still live comfortably, according to whatever expectations you may have for your retirement years. If retirement is sneaking up on you, are you ready for it? Even if it is 20-40 years in the future, is your savings plan on track to meet your future needs?
 
This question is quite complicated to answer, as it involves a lot more than just multiplying "savings x years to retirement”. When it is time to make those financial calculations, to find out if your plan is sufficient, there are a variety of different factors involved in the calculation. Some of the relevant factors include:
  • Your current age
  • When you plan to retire
  • Your current income
  • Current annual expenditures
  • How much annual income you will need when you retire
  • Rate of inflation
  • Availability of Social Security
 
How do you know how much you need to save now, every year, in order to ensure you will have the total amount you need to live your retirement at the income level you desire? If you have an investment consultant or financial planner, what questions should you pose to them to make sure you are comfortable with your future retirement income?
 
A first step is to take stock of your current situation – how much are you putting aside now toward retirement and how much have you already saved? Once you have collected the applicable information about your current financial situation, you are ready to find a retirement planning calculator on-line. We find these calculators to be a great resource for pre-planning – and they are actually fun to use! The most effective calculators take the above factors into consideration and provide additional information about retirement planning as well.
 
A large number of online retirement calculators exist to help get you started on the path to determining how much you need to save now to be comfortable in your retirement. We found there are too many to count or accurately review. Some require you to provide personal contact information in order to use them. Many consider some, but not all of the relevant factors involved in retirement planning. Some may consider the factors but keep them hidden from view; just calculated behind the scenes. Others ask for very detailed information about your current portfolio – too detailed for a starting "ballpark” calculation.
 
Here are some of our favorites:
 
Our favorite retirement calculator is provided by Texas Gulf Bank. Not only are all the relevant factors taken into consideration, but TGB also includes a glossary of terms to help you understand the information that goes into the calculation.
 
Ultimate Retirement Calculator at FinancialMentor.com – a bit more complicated to use, but does provide good information as a baseline for retirement.
 
Armed with the information gleaned from playing with the calculators, you’ll be well on your way to a comfortable, secure retirement – or at least you’ll be further along the path of defining that elusive "retirement” goal and intelligently talking to your local banker or investment professional. Whether you are a Baby Boomer nearing retirement age or just starting your life as a working adult, it’s never too early – or too late - to start thinking, planning and saving for your retirement!
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