Calculating When You Can Retire

I read the obits today.  Actually I read them every day – not because I think I’m going to know someone who died, but because the Boston Globe has a quirky take on just who gets a quarter page spread each morning.

I’ve noticed two trends over time.  One is that more and more people aren’t expiring until they are 90-something, which is rather encouraging, don’t you think?  The other is that most of those approaching the century mark never really “retired”.   Oh, they may have worked at a career for forty years or so, but the list of activities they reveled in after they quit their career job makes for some inspiring reading.  Retirement is such an old-fashioned word, isn’t it?

Perhaps this is why many people don’t bother to use any of the retirement calculators on the web today.  They don’t see themselves as retiring at any given age, so…how do get started when the first question most of those online tools ask is –“when do you want to retire?” 

Here’s my proposal (and then we’ll move on to a review of some of those tools): Let’s call it a Flexibility Calculator.  When do you want to have some flexibility in your schedule – where you live, what you do with your time?  (There’s another two word phrase I could use that also starts with an F…but that’s only when I’m having a bad day…)

Whatever you want to call it, here are a few tools that can help you figure out when you can enjoy more FREEDOM, FUN or FLEXIBILITY in your day. Retirement Planner


Run by a guy named Bud (really), this is a site you can noodle around for a long time.  Bud is very informative in his guidance, isn’t selling any investments and has put a lot of thought into his calculators.  The Retirement Planner helps you decide how much you should be saving for retirement or can spend if already retired, when you may be able to retire,  how allocation of stocks, bonds and cash may affect retirement, and whether new savings should go into taxable, deferred-tax or tax-exempt investments. The Free Retirement Planner also has a unique option that lets you use your assumptions with actual historical data to see if you would have had enough money for retirement way back in 1965.  And you can download & save the results in an Excel spreadsheet.


Dinkytown’s Retirement Nest Egg

Dinkytown is another site where you can find lots of great financial calculators.  I like this one in particular because it answers the question I get all the time – “What’s my NUMBER?”  How much of a nest egg do I need to have before I start spending it down?  Having an end goal is usually pretty motivating for people.  Of course, figuring out how much you can spend each month in retirement is a lot more fun than figuring out how much you have to have saved (yikes!) by the time you get there…

FINRA Retirement Calculator


Even the regulators are getting in on the calculator tools.  I like this because it is super easy to complete and gives you a number you need to save each month to reach your retirement income goal.  It may not have all the bells and whistles, but if you are looking for a quick idea of how much to chunk away in that 401k or brokerage account, this is your best bet.

Of course retirement calculators are a dime a dozen on the web and every major brokerage, bank and insurance company has one.  Chances are if you used the same assumptions on ten different sites, you’d get ten different answers as well.  But isn’t it time you figured out when YOU can have some flexibility?

About the author

Lea Ann Knight, CFP®

Lea Ann is the Principal of Garrison/Knight Financial Planning as well as the creator of the financial literacy site, Financially Fit After 40. She also writes a monthly column as the Money Expert for All You Magazine.

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