Retirement planning, for better or worse, is impossible without a little number-crunching. Thanks to the internet, various iterations of easy-to-use investment calculators are freely available to anyone and everyone.
While you should consult a financial advisor on the specifics of your personal plan, you can get a good idea about where you need to be when you retire by doing a little legwork of your own.
From the 401k calculator to the Roth IRA calculator, everyone should be able to see how various investments grow — or deplete — over time.
Below are some of the most widely used investment calculators, what they do and where you can find them:
The Retirement Calculator
What it does: Trying to figure out how much you need to save each year to retire with $1 million in your bank account? Done. You can also reverse the process: Enter fields like how much money you plan on saving each year and your expected annual rate of return, and this retirement calculator will tell you what your nest egg will look like down the line.
Where to find it: Bloomberg has a simple, easy-to-use retirement calculator that’s capable of answering these important questions just as fast as you can ask them.
Check out Bloomberg’s retirement calculator here.
The 401k Calculator
What it does: “How much money will my 401k be worth when I retire?” Glad you asked — that’s precisely why this tool exists. The 401k calculator considers your contribution, your employer’s contribution, age, retirement age, rate of return and a few other basic factors to calculate the projected value of your 401k account when you retire. Play with the employer match to see the dramatic difference it makes when your company offers a matching program. (Hint: It’s big.)
Where to find it: Like Bloomberg‘s retirement calculator, Bankrate.com’s 401k calculator is self-explanatory and easy to use. With a nice graphic representation of how your money grows over time, that 4% match isn’t so insignificant after all!
Check out Bankrate.com’s retirement calculator here.
The Savings Calculator
What it does: How much money in savings do you have already? Do you know how you want to proceed going forward, as well as what kind of return you’re looking for? Great — that’s all the savings calculator needs to know. Enter your numbers, press “calculate,” see some dollar signs and move on with your life. This savings calculator is different from the tools above, taking the rate of inflation into account to give you inflation-adjusted final balances.
Where to find it: FINRA, or the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, has the tool on its website.
Check out FINRA’s savings calculator here.
The Annuity Calculator
What it does: Many retirees plop down a lump sum in exchange for an annuity — a regular cash influx they can count on for years to come. Enter the annuity calculator, which gauges how many years that lump sum will last you. For example, if you have $100,000 and want to receive $1,000/month, assuming a 4% rate of return, you can count on that income stream for 10.11 years. But if instead of $100,000 you had $200,000, you can draw down the same amount each month for more than 27 years. It pays to save.
Where to find it: Again, Bankrate.com provides an investment calculator that does everything you need it to do in an easy-to-use, visually appealing format.
Check out Bankrate.com’s annuity calculator here.
Still haven’t found the tool for you?
Perhaps you’re looking for a social security calculator to determine what sort of benefits check you can expect at a particular age. The Social Security Administration can help you out on that front.
And when it comes to a Roth IRA calculator, Bankrate.com is yet again the place you want to go.
As of this writing, John Divine did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities. You can follow him on Twitter at @divinebizkid or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.