It’s difficult to know when you’re financially able to retire, and what your lifestyle in retirement will look like. Retirement is so far away and has so many variables it feels impossible to plan for, so we put it off. Stop doing that!
You need to take a more active approach to retirement planning.
Personal Capital is the perfect tool to help. You don’t have to meet with an adviser, all the tools you need are available for free at Personal Capital.
Below I’ll show you some of Personal Capital’s capabilities by walking through screenshots from my personal account.
Retirement Planning Tools
Personal Capital will run simulations on different retirement scenarios you set up.
The scenarios use your current portfolio balances (updated automatically) and your own estimates of items like annual savings, retirement date, and major spending and income events.
You tell it how much you want to spend each year in retirement, and the simulation will project your plan’s likelihood of success. You’re able to save as many iterations of your plans as you want and watch how they progress over time (it might be limited to 100, but for all practical purposes it’s unlimited).
I’ll show you more detail later, but first, a look at the scenarios I’ve saved for myself:
If you’ve read any other material on this site you know my wife and I are not interested in working the rest of our lives.
One of my favorite scenarios, and the only one not geared toward early retirement, is “DINKS forever”. I use it to add context to our current lifestyles. We save >50% of our incomes, and if we kept working and saving at this pace we’d accumulate something like $20M. It’s amazing how living slightly different than everyone else can have huge compounding effects.
For demonstration purposes we’ll take a closer look at the “40- both/reality” scenario since it’s the best representation of our current goals.
40 – both/reality
Below you can see the summary chart of our current retirement plan, which is a result of Personal Capital running 5,000 Monte Carlo simulations on our specific circumstances.
The graph shows the median result in light blue and the worst results in dark blue. Even with sophisticated tools, retirement planning is still an estimate, and may require adjustments along the way.
Despite the uncertainty, it’s useful to see the most likely result of the current path you’re on. Here’s our most likely result:
We’re looking good to meet our goal of retiring at age 40! The numbers suggest we’ll be able to support $5,783 in monthly spending, which exceeds our goal. The 88% success rate is the likelihood we’ll be able to spend $4,000/month until age 101 without running out of money.
The median scenario actually has us dying with $15M in the bank. Enjoy it future kids.
Let’s take a look at the assumptions used to get to our results:
The $506,950 in savings today is pulled directly from our balances in Personal Capital. We don’t have to update this number, I’ve simply told the site what accounts I have and it updates our balances automatically. It’s great.
I’m assuming $120,000 of annual savings, which I appreciate seems ridiculous, but it’s grounded in our past performance.
Most people my age don’t think we’ll receive any Social Security benefits, but that’s simply not based on facts. The method for determining our potential benefit is discussed at length in this post.
You need to input your desired annual spend and any major one-off expenses you anticipate. It’s really helpful to have an understanding of your current spending to accurately predict what you’ll need in the future.
Personal Capital can track your spending automatically and for free by linking your credit and bank accounts. I actually don’t use it for that, I’m anti-budgeting and track all our spending in Excel, but a lot of people rave about budgeting tools like Personal Capital and Mint.
We’re estimating $4,000/month in retirement spend, which based on recent patterns might be a little ambitious…
I’ve also included some near-term house renovations as well as money for a new pad at age 61.
Making Your Selections
At the bottom of the Retirement Planner are two buttons that let you further edit your retirement assumptions.
You can adjust your withdrawal tax rate, anticipated inflation, and life expectancy.
Taxes can quietly destroy retirement income plans, so it’s nice you can have Personal Capital bake them into the calculation. Since we’re not planning on being rich, we should be able to withdraw money at a low tax rate.
I plugged 100 in life expectancy not because I’m confident I’ll live that long, but because I want peace of mind we’ll never run out of money.
Estimating the success of your retirement financial plan is crucial if you ever actually want to retire. Having a good understanding of potential outcomes will help you make the adjustments needed to reach your ultimate goals.
And if you don’t have a plan, Personal Capital is a great way to get started!
Planning no longer requires meeting with financial advisers and their competing priorities. You are in control of your future, there’s no excuse, get started!
This post is obviously a sales pitch to get you to sign up for Personal Capital using my links. I’m not trying to act like it isn’t. I’m not paid anything by Personal Capital for endorsing them, but I may receive a small commission if you sign up using my links. The site and analysis I’ve shown above remain completely free to you regardless of how you join.