Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Retirement Planning - Try my calculator / estimator

I'm a big fan of numbers, especially ones with dollar signs next to them :-) I've always dreamed of retiring early, but the number you need seems to get bigger each year. And the fact that you get the double whammy, years of savings you lose at the beginning, and the longer years you have to make the money last. So if I you were originally planning on retiring at 60 and lived to 80, you got to save money up until 60 and it only had to last 20 years. If you want to retire at 45, you lose 15 years of savings, and now your money has to last 35 years ... the Double Whammy !

I was also confused everytime I met with retirement planners. The confusion was usually about today's dollars verses future dollars. Whenever we were talking they would always confuse things by showing me purchasing power of the money I was saving in the future, verses what the account value really would be at that time. I think it was all a ploy to invest more money with them. Your typical scare tactics .... "Invest with us, or you will be eating dog-food out of a can!"

So in order to un-confuse myself, I came up with a retirement estimator Excel spreadsheet.

I also realized that if I wanted to retire early, I was going to have to start diverting funds to non-retirement accounts. What good would it be to stop working at 45, and then not be able to touch your money until you were 59 1/2 ?!?!

The estimator is straight forward, but I would appreciate any input on making it better. The only confusing thing is the date input. The formulas are triggered off the date, and you have to enter it in decimal format. So for example, todays date is 2007.56 .... current day of year (205) divided by days in year (365) ... so 205/365=.56 ... I usually just go to wikipedia and type "today" , then click on the date.

You'll also have to change the ages, unless you were born in the best year ! ... I mean seriously, try to top being the year when we stepped on the moon :-)

If someone is a real Excel guru, I would appreciate automation of the date field, so it reads the date from my pc and then puts the number in for me.

Enjoy. --> Link to download the planner.