Quick notes:

 

  • A lot of factors can affect how your retirement savings develop
  • A retirement calculator can help you to keep track of how things are going
  • There are multiple options for retirement calculators. Pick one that works for you.

 

 

It can be hard to know exactly how much you’ll need to save for retirement. Factors such as your savings rate, how the stock market is performing, compounding investment returns over time, and whether you decide to take an early withdrawal, can all affect the progress of your nest egg.

If you’re working with a financial planner, their expertise will help you understand how multiple variables can affect your situation. If you’re not, the right retirement calculator can help you figure things out. Below are some details on how to find the right retirement calculator for you and how to understand the difference between some of the available options.

Where to find retirement calculators

One of the easiest places to find a retirement calculator is online. There’s no shortage of websites, typically from brokerage services, personal finance publications, and financial planners, that offer a tool for you to use. Keep in mind, many of these services offer their calculator as a sales tool, hoping to ultimately engage users as their customers.

What to look for in a retirement calculator

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Retirement calculators each perform the same general function and there are features that all good versions have. They should have a place for you to input the amount you plan to spend in retirement and either your age or the date at which you’d like to stop working. You should also have a way to input any additional amounts that you plan to contribute to your savings and be able to add in the amount for benefit payments that sources such as social security will contribute.

Additionally, a good calculator should account for a conservative and compounded rate of investment returns that can be adjusted for various levels of risk and it should include a calculation for a moderate rate for inflation. Lastly, each of these settings should be able to be adjusted so you can see what things look like if you want to change your retirement date, add savings at a faster rate, etc.

Five examples of retirement savings calculators

There are multiple versions of retirement savings calculators available. Here are some of the best versions out there.

  • Nerdwallet – The popular personal finance website, Nerdwallet, has an easy-to-use retirement calculator as well as information that will talk you through the process of using it.
  • AARP – The well-known information and advocacy organization is dedicated to ensuring that older adults have a fulfilling experience later in life. Part of this mission includes ensuring their retirement savings is up to snuff. They’ve offered their version of a retirement calculator to help.
  • Bankrate – Financial services company Bankrate offers a quick-use calculator with a series of general, sliding inputs. The website quickly points users to other resources within their company that can help with more detailed retirement planning.
  • SmartAsset – This website offers a more detailed calculator that will even customize your planning to your current location. Their retirement is part of a suite of tools that help consumers make a range of important financial decisions.
  • Calculator.net – This no-frills, online resource offers a very detailed retirement calculator and advice about the best way to approach building your nest egg. This site also offers a suite of other tools to help people more easily make complicated financial decisions.

 

A deeper dive — More from the 101:

Before you stop working, be sure you’ve saved enough to account for impacts in these areas.

In these locations, retiring may cost less than you think.