A good online retirement tool can make crunching decades of numbers and assumptions a snap. The best tools allow you to understand the assumptions that are being made and to change those assumptions easily. Having used just about every online retirement planning tool available, I thought I’d share the five that rate among the very best.
Retirement Planning Software for Personal Use
1. Personal Capital’s Retirement Planner
Personal Capital’s Retirement Planner is FREE to use and, in my opinion, is the best one available today — free or paid. If you want to find out more about Personal Capital, we’ve reviewed this service. The platform offers many other features, as well.
The Personal Capital Retirement Planner includes:
- Analyzes Your Actual Savings and Spending
- Accounts for Large Expenses
- Covers All of the Possible Variables
- “what-if” scenarios
- Monte Carlo simulation
- New home simulation
- College education simulation
Of course, you can also use its wealth management service and work with an advisor if you invest at least $100,000. This means you build a custom portfolio that matches your goals and risk tolerance. But as a standalone tool, it’s one of the best retirement planners you can use.
2. Betterment’s Retirement Savings Calculator
Betterment is one of our favorite robo advisor services. More than just helping you do some hands-off investing, the service takes a holistic look at your financial picture to help you reach specific goals. So, of course, Betterment would have a useful retirement calculator.
To use this free tool, all you have to do is input your age, your household income (before taxes), how much you have saved for retirement already, and the amount your household is saving for retirement each year. The calculator will then give you an estimate of how much you’ll be able to spend per year.
Knowing your discretionary spending is important as you plan for retirement so you can stay on track with your budget. Betterment’s retirement planning tool helps in this department, and it’s also a very affordable robo advisor if you need help investing.
3. Stash’s Retirement Calculator
If you’re looking for a quick picture of how much you need to save for retirement, Stash’s Retirement Calculator is a great choice. Enter your age, your intended retirement age, your pre-tax income, and how much you’ve saved and are saving, and you’ll get a snapshot of how much you’ll need and how much you’re on track to have.
But Stash‘s Retirement Calculator is also useful for those who want a more thorough view, as well. That’s because you can choose to incorporate several assumptions into the mix. These include how much of your current income you expect to need in retirement, your investment rate of return, life expectancy, and inflation. By making informed estimates here, you’ll get a much better idea of where you stand when it comes to retirement savings.
Stash requires a $5 investing minimum to start, so it’s one of the best investing apps for beginners. And if you go for the free Retirement Calculator, you might end up staying for the whole service.
4. CountAbout’s FIRE Widget
CountAbout is a handy budgeting and personal finance tool. While it’s mostly focused on monthly budgets and helping you monitor your spending, they also have a FIRE widget to help you plan for retirement. This retirement planning tool isn’t free however, but its basic account costs $9.99 a year.
Short for Financial Independence and Early Retirement, FIRE tools help you track how close you are to retirement. CountAbout’s FIRE widget that tracks your monthly expenses along with any potential passive income and plots them over time.
So, for example, if you are mostly invested in stocks, it will show the potential amount you have versus your expenses so you will know when you’re financially independent. You can also analyze your future finances by setting your retirement withdrawal rate and calculate your passive income potential from the size of your assets.
5. Charles Schwab’s Retirement Savings Calculator
Charles Schwab may be the granddaddy of discount stock brokers (it’s nearly 50 years old!), but that doesn’t mean this service hasn’t kept up with the times.
Schwab’s website offers a free retirement calculator that helps you figure out where you stand today and what you need to do to hit your goals. Just input some details about your current situation and plans (as well as your risk tolerance), and the calculator will do the rest. You receive a summary of your retirement savings health, along with a series of suggested adjustments you can make to your portfolio.
We rank Charles Schwab very high when it comes to customer service, and it doesn’t stop short here. There’s a 24/7 chat box to help you work your way through the calculator.
6. Fidelity’s myPlan Snapshot
With a stellar app and comprehensive features, Fidelity is one of our top-ranked online brokers. But did you know that its website also offers a free calculator you can use to get onto the right road to retirement?
myPlan Snapshot may not be as comprehensive as Personal Capital’s Retirement Planner, but it can give you a quick, down-and-dirty glimpse at your financial future. All you need to do is enter your age, annual savings, annual income, and the value of your total investment portfolio. Fidelity will then create a visual representation of your projected assets in future dollars.
You don’t need to sign up to Fidelity to use the calculator, but if you decide to become a customer — or if you’re one already — you can use the data to create a more comprehensive retirement investing plan.
7. NewRetirement’s Retirement Planner
NewRetirement is a tool designed to help ease your anxiety around retirement planning. The platform helps you build a customized retirement plan and make sure that you’re on track to retire comfortably.
NewRetirement specializes in offering affordable retirement planning tools, educational content, and a community of like-minded investors.
Their free plan helps you see where you stand financially and if you’re financially prepared for retirement. With their PlannerPlus Plan ($96 per year) you can also create a budget, link your accounts, get a detailed tax analysis, find the best withdrawal strategies, and more. And the PlannerPlus Live ($396 a year) includes all of that plus two Zoom sessions with a retirement planner. Both planned plans offer 14-day trials.
8. Vanguard’s Retirement Nest Egg Calculator
Vanguard is another stock broker, and its collection of mutual funds and ETFs is stellar. It also has a free retirement calculator you can use to calculate how long your nest egg will last into retirement.
The Retirement Nest Egg Calculator requires only four inputs:
- How many years should your savings last?
- What is your savings balance today?
- How much do you spend each year?
- How are your savings allocated?
Since it’s not going as in-depth into your financial picture as, say, Personal Capital does, you won’t get quite as comprehensive a result. You’ll get a graph that tells you how long your savings will last. Still, it’s a great quick snapshot if you need a good idea of whether or not you’re on the right track.
Free retirement planning software
1. Personal Capital’s Retirement Planner
The first option is the newest on the list. Personal Capital has just launched a Retirement Planner as part of its free financial dashboard. It makes the list for several reasons. First, once investment accounts are added to the financial dashboard, the Retirement Planner takes all of the available data and runs 5,000 investment scenarios automatically. There’s no data entry required. Second, the underlying assumptions (e.g., inflation, life expectancy, social security) can be changed easily. Finally, the results are displayed with both attractive graphs and in table format.
2. Fidelity myPlan Snapshot
The Fidelity myPlan Snapshot enables you to get a glimpse into your retirement finances in seconds. Input just a few basic numbers, such as age, annual savings, annual income, and total investment portfolio, and this tool generates a graphical picture of your projected assets.
Fidelity customers can take the data from the snapshot and create a more detailed retirement plan.
3. Flexible Retirement Planner
For those that want to roll up their sleeves and spend hours with a retirement too, the Flexible Retirement Planner is the tool of choice. The tool allows for very detailed inputs. For example, you can set your taxable portfolio, tax deferred portfolio, and tax free portfolio (i.e., Roth accounts). You can even configure the Monte Carlo simulator’s sensitivity analysis and the asset allocation of your portfolio. The result is a graph of future retirement fund values and the probability of the success of your retirement portfolio.
4. The Ultimate Retirement Calculator
With the Ultimate Retirement Calculator, you can enter the typical data, such as retirement savings and annual contributions. There are a few things, however, that set this calculator apart. First, it allows you to account for leaving a certain amount in your estate at your death. It also enables you to enter one-time benefits that you expect to receive, such as an inheritance. You can also enter pension or Social Security income and set an annual cost of living adjustment. The results are in table format, and you can email the results to yourself for later analysis.
5. Vanguard Retirement Nest Egg Calculator
The final tool is the easiest to use. The Vanguard Retirement Nest Egg calculator is designed to tell you the odds of your nest egg lasting in retirement. There are only four inputs: how many years your portfolio must last, its current balance, annual spending, and asset allocation. As an example, a $1,000,000 portfolio has an 86% chance of producing $45,000 a year in income for 30 years with a 60% allocation to stocks.
Financial planning software
Best budgeting app overall
Mint is one of the most popular budgeting apps and for good reason. It is free to use, something rare among the best budgeting apps, and you get financial budgeting shared by 24 million users.
The app allows you to create a personalized budget and will then monitor your spending. It studies your spending habits and advises how to increase your savings. It will also check your subscriptions to ensure that you are not paying for services you do not need. With MintSights, you can set goals to reach financial milestones and build a stronger financial foundation. Once you connect your accounts, you can easily navigate between outstanding account balances, your monthly expenses versus spending, and even access your free credit score. Mint is compatible with not just banking accounts, but also your credit cards, loans, and investments. You can even file your IRS taxes and receive your refund through the app’s integrated TurboTax services.
Whichever version you opt for, there’s a 30 day free trial available, so you can try before you buy to get an idea if BankTree will work for you.
The Money Dashboard iOS/Android app doesn’t try to reinvent the banking world or offer anything truly ground-breaking, but it is perhaps one of the most useful money management tools out there. Hook up every one of your UK bank and credit card accounts and you’ll be able to see each of your balances in a single place with a single login. That in itself is enough for us to recommend it.
But there’s more – Money Dashboard will track your spending, offering you an overall pie chart depicting your spending on loans, consumables, transport and the like. There’s an at-a-glance overall balance, showing exactly how much money you have available across all of your accounts, and you can compare this to the previous month’s figure to show how well you’ve been managing your funds. That’s a great motivator.
Made primarily for Mac users (but also out on Windows and Linux), Moneydance is a desktop money management package with a very neat single-window interface. Load it up and you’ll get an instant view of your finances, upcoming bills, recent expenses and more. Click an item in the left hand sidebar and the main content changes to reflect it.
Its reporting features are quite strong if not spectacular to look at, and one of Moneydance’s most useful sections is its account register. If you’re old-school and once managed a cheque book, this operates on a very similar principle. There’s also an iOS app for logging transactions on the go, which later syncs with the software on your desktop.
Unfortunately for UK users, Moneydance doesn’t support the connection protocols used by UK banks, so you’ll need to download your transaction history manually to keep on top of it and revert to your bank’s own app to move money around. US users, however, are well covered.
Best budgeting app with digital envelopes
Cost: There is a free version with ads, or you can upgrade to an ad-free plan for $7 per month or $60 per year.
Goodbudget is a budgeting app that helps you create and stick to a budget. There is available debt tracking to keep you motivated and on track. It also helps with money management so you know exactly where your funds are and how they are performing. You will have to subscribe to Goodbudget, but once you do, you will have wide access to the app through both the web and multiple phones. This means that it is easy to share your account with others, like a spouse or family member. It helps you stay connected financially even if you are physically apart, helping to prevent miscommunications and financial mishaps. All transactions are synced to the cloud so you never have to worry about certain financial transactions going missing. Review pie charts and reports to track your spending, with generated reports to show your finances in greater detail. Digital envelopes help you categorize your finances into available funds with each envelope assigned to certain expenses. It is a visual way to improve your finances through the help of virtual tools.
Best budgeting app for investors
Cost: Personal Capital is free to use.
More than 2.8 million people utilize Personal Capital, and it is a portfolio tracker specifically designed to help with your investments, offering a unique digital approach to your personal finance. The app works with several different types of accounts, including your normal banking accounts, as well as investments, stocks, and retirement funds. The exclusive Retirement Planner tool helps you view your 401K, IRAs, and also your debt so you can have a complete, well-rounded portrait of your finances at the click of a button. The Cash Flow graph stacks your income versus your expenses for an overall financial snapshot that is easy to understand, plus there is an Investment Checkup tool that checks your investments, looking for ways to minimize risk while maximizing rewards. The Retirement Planner is an excellent option when you want to create and manage your retirement. You also have the option to join Personal Capital as an investment client so you can receive direct support from its financial advisors.
Best budgeting app for overspenders
Cost: There are three subscription plans, in addition to a basic plan with limited features for free.
|Type of plan||Cost|
|Lifetime One-Time Purchase||$79.99|
PocketGuard takes a different approach to budgeting, utilizing smart algorithms to manage and track your spending. It also monitors your bills, helping to ensure that you do not miss a payment and risk falling further into debt. There is a bill tracker and organizer available as soon as you link your bank accounts. Any subscriptions you have will be automatically flagged and built into your monthly budget. With the IN MY POCKET feature, the app will automatically calculate your monthly expenses and then advise you on what is left over to spend. It also can help you negotiate better interest rates on your existing accounts, helping you save those extra dollars. It is easy to identify what disposable income you have to spend when the app does all the calculating and reporting for you. You do not have to pay to use PocketGuard, although you will need to subscribe if you want to access all of the best features.
BankTree is more than happy to support worldwide currencies, and in fact does a solid job if you’re working simultaneously with more than one, offering balances in multiple currencies rather than rounding them off into a single total. It’s also good for keeping track of everything, allowing you to scan receipts with its mobile app and import them later on.
It’s not the prettiest software around, and it’s slightly more awkward to use than many of its more refined cousins, although BankTree does produce very neat reports which you can break down by time, or by payee. It may be worth experimenting with the free trial before you choose to invest in this one.
The desktop software comes with one year of updates and support, though you are restricted to one PC and there is a charge for any additional PC you want to run the software on. There’s also a browser-based version available.
Successful retirement planning doesn’t happen overnight or by accident. In reality, it requires diligent long-term investing and saving. It also requires the willingness to look at your finances and to stay organized.
The great news is that there are plenty of premium and free retirement planning tools that provide a helping hand. Personal Capital is one of our free favorites, but you can use a combination of calculators and tools to map out your unique retirement plan.