Three Retirement Calcs That Will Help You Hack Your Retirement

For many figuring out how much to save for retirement is a hopeless quest. Millions are not saving enough to pay their monthly bills, so there's nothing left over for a retirement kitty. Although there are no shortcuts to saving — you just need to get on an automatic program and save as much as possible — there are some quick routes to finding out the right numbers.

I've always liked retirement calculators. You can find them online for free. They won't give you precise numbers, but they can tell you if you're headed in the general direction.

According to the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, you can get some decent snapshots of whether you're saving enough and what you need to do. Are you on track? What do you need to know?

“The operative words here are ‘on track,'” the Center noted, “because each calculator has strengths and weaknesses. Calculators aren’t capable of providing a bullet-proof analysis of the complex factors and future unknowns that will determine whether someone has done the planning and saving required to ensure a financially secure retirement.”

To start out, you'll need to know how much you'll be spending in retirement. Will you still have kids at home? Will you have a mortgage? How much will you spend on healthcare (remember Medicare doesn't pay for everything)?

 The Center surveyed several online calculators and identified three and what they do well:

– Ask Deep Questions About Anticipated Expenses. NewRetirement. “Brothers Stephen and Tim Chen designed their new calculator with their mother in mind. Perhaps that’s why their questions are so thorough.

The calculator lets users select many of the assumptions that are preset in other calculators, such as how much more pre-retirees anticipate they can save.

On the other hand, estimating monthly medical expenses will require some research – but it’s a crucial cost consideration, and the website offers tips.”

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