Not to preach or sound like some ol' fart, but let me tell you, from the perspective of someone who has reached their 60s, retirement time comes much faster than you would think is even possible.
Don't believe me?
Here's what Market Watch has learned:
"More than 40% of Americans are at risk of going broke in retirement — and that’s the good news..."
If workers understood how fast retirement creeps up, do you think they would allow themselves to get in such a dire circumstance?
Maybe yes. Maybe no.
How to Use the Retirement Calculator
The above calculator takes into account your current retirement savings plus additional contributions from your income as well as (optional) projected wage gains and evaluates your goals. It then charts your post retirement income to see if you are on track to meet those goals.
"ROI during retirement" rate goes into effect the day the last retirement contribution is made rather than on the day of the first income withdrawal. Setting the effective date equal to the final contribution date is a slightly more conservative approach when the after retirement rate is lower than the before retirement rate. (It is a less conservative approach when the opposite is true.)
The calculator has 13 inputs, 4 of them are required:
- Your Current age
- Annual income
- ROI for retirement savings - return-on-investment
- ROI during retirement
The calculator will calculate any one of four unknowns. Enter "0" (zero) for one of the four and a value for each of the other three:
- Your life expectancy
- Percent of income invested
- Your age at retirement
- Annual income required
There are five optional inputs. You may leave any or all of them set to "0":
- Annual income increase
- Current retirement savings
- Annual inflation rate
- Income from government
- Other annual income
Examples Creating Your Retirement Schedule & Chart
Retirement planning involves many variables. As with other financial calculators on this site, this retirement planning calculator can solve for multiple unknowns. Below are questions that can be answered based on your assumptions using the values you provide.
- How much do I need to save to retire?
- Set "Percent of income invested" to "0.0%"
- Hover mouse over gold contribution line in the chart to see annual retirement contribution
- When can I retire?
- Do I have enough to retire?
- At what age can I retire?
- Set "Your age at retirement?" to "0"
- If calculated age equals your current age, then you have enough to retire now.
- Set "Your age at retirement?" to "0"
- How much do I need to retire?
- What will my retirement income be?
- Set "Desired retirement income" to "0"
- After calculating, see "Savings at retirement" in the chart
- How long will my money last?
- Set "Desired retirement income" to the total income you want including other income
- Set "Your life expectancy" to "0"
- The result is the age at which the depletion of your retirement savings occurs.
Click on the calculator's "Help" button for more details about each input.
Preparing for Retirement — Assumptions
Generally, when someone retires, their investments become more conservative. More conservative investments usually have a lower rate of return, yield, or interest rate. Therefore, the calculator gives the user the option for two rates of return — one for the pre-retirement investment, and one for the after retirement investment. The investment rate change happens on the date of the last contribution.
Click the schedule button for details.
If you want to enter an amount to invest, not a percentage
When it comes to the amount you are contributing toward your retirement, some users may not care to think in terms of percentage of income invested. Instead, some may rather think in terms of an absolute amount they plan to contribute. If that's the case, set "percent of income invested" to 100% and enter for "annual income" the amount you plan to invest. Naturally, the "annual income increase" feature will also work if you select this approach.
If you want to know at what age you can retire given your expected savings plan and income desired, this calculator will tell you as noted above. To make this calculation, we have to know how long you want your retirement income to last. But this calculator does not ask you that question. So how do we know this?
Behind the scenes, the calculator has a default retirement age.
That age is 66.
When you enter your life expectancy, the calculator calculates the number of years you want your savings to last from the default date. If you want your retirement income from investments to last 20 years (21 withdrawals), you, therefore, enter 86 for "your life expectancy." Or if you want it to last 25 years, you enter 91 and 0 (zero) for "Your age at retirement."
Notice after the calculation, your retirement age will be known. Additionally, your life expectancy will be updated so that the difference between the two will equal the number of years you want the funds to last.
Desired retirement income
A note about "Desired retirement income": When users are thinking about retirement and the income they want, they usually think about their total income, and not the individual components of the income.
Therefore, desired income is the total annual income you want when you retire. If you enter income from other sources such as Social Security or pensions, that income will be deducted from the desired income when making the investment calculations.
Retirement Plans Compared
Click on the below plans, and the calculator's data will change, and the chart will be updated.
The point is to show three slightly different sets of inputs and how generally small changes can have a significant impact on the results.
Retirement Plan 1 — not a comfortable retirement illustration. Start at age 35 and save 5% of a $50,000 annual income with a 3% income increase every year. At retirement (age 65), start withdrawing $25,000 annually with a 2.5% inflation adjustment, you'll not have a comfortable retirement for your entire life expectancy. Notice at retirement; the invested funds immediately start to deplete as indicated by the red bars.
Retirement Plan 2 — if the user follows this plan, the retirement funds immediately start to deplete, but they will not run out. There were two changes made to this plan when compared to the first illustration. The user settled for 12.5% less retirement income ($22,000 vs. $25,000) and retirement was delayed until age 66.
Retirement Plan 3 — this plan has the best results. Notice the funds available continue to increase even after contributions have stopped and the user is retired. The increasing available income is indicated by the bars at retirement age supper imposed with the gold withdrawal line. The only reason the retirement funds start to deplete later in this retirement plan is due to the 2.5% inflation adjustment applied to the withdrawals. (See for yourself. Set the "annual inflation rate" to zero, and you'll see that the funds continue to grow. [After you make the change, click on the "Calc" button of course.])
The retirement calculator is one of the more critical financial calculators on this site. Feel free to come back and use it as often as you like.
Other Retirement Calculators
As described above, the calculator on this page can solve for multiple unknowns, and it will answer any of your common retirement questions. On the other hand, the below three calculators take up less screen space, and they may be more appropriate for smaller computing devices. They are also designed to answer one question directly and therefore require less study to use. You might want to check them out as well.
Retirement Planning Help
Though many, if not all, of the inputs will be self-explanatory at a basic level, we suggest that you review the below information. There are various details which we point out that are important to understand.
Your current age — or the age you plan to start saving/investing.
Your life expectancy — expressed as an age. Your retirement funds have to last for your life expectancy minus your retirement age plus one (to fund your last year of retirement). Currently, a male living in the US who is 20 years old has a life expectancy of 77 years and a female can expect to live to be 81 years. Of course, feel free to change these numbers as you see fit. Or you may wish to use the US Social Security Administration's life expectancy table.
Annual income — expected annual income at the time you start saving for retirement. If you have already started investing then enter your current income.
Annual income increase — assumes your income will go up over the years. Enter the annual average increase that you expect. If you want to allow for inflation, then enter an amount LESS the average annual rate of inflation that you expect. For example, if you expect to get a 3% raise a year and you expect inflation to average 2% a year, then enter 1% since 2% is going to be eaten up by the impact of inflation.
Percent of income invested — enter the percent of income that you plan to save for your retirement fund. Generally speaking, the older you are, the higher the percentage will have to be for you to reach your retirement income goal.
Current retirement savings — if you have already started saving, enter the total amount in your retirement account.
ROI for retirement savings — (return on investment) your expected, annualized average return on your investments. If you were to put your money in a standard saving account (not necessarily a good idea), then this would be the annual interest rate paid on the account.
Your age at retirement — the age you want to retire.
ROI during retirement — your rate of return on your investments after you retire. You could use the same percentage as you use for "ROI for retirement savings" however, normally after one retires they invest their money in assets that are more conservative and that generates a lower rate of return.
Annual inflation rate — if you want to increase your retirement income, then enter an estimated inflation rate. Your income will increase by this amount.
Desired retirement income — what is the total annual income you expect to need on the day you retire including the income from other sources.
Expected income from gov't — if you expect social security income or a government pension enter the annual amount. This amount plus any income from other sources will be deducted from "annual income required" to calculate the amount of income retirement your savings will have to generate.
Other annual income — if you expect income from other sources besides your retirement saving and government social security or pensions enter the annual amount. For example, if you expect a pension from an employer, enter the annual pension amount. This amount and social security will be deducted from "annual income required" to calculate the amount of income your retirement fund will have to support.