Best Downloadable Spreadsheets for Retirement Planning
Preparing for retirement requires careful planning that begins years in advance, and it's helpful to have the right tools at your disposal. If you’re a numbers person and like to tinker around in Excel, then these downloadable tools for retirement planning are going to be right up your alley. Covering a range of topics from taxes to investments, they all can be used to help you make smarter financial decisions, whether your retirement is years away or right upon you.
As you move down this list, the programs and their retirement planning spreadsheets become more complex. The ones listed first offer a variety of simple Excel retirement calculators and spreadsheets. Those toward the end are in fact intended for tax and financial planning professionals. But the serious do-it-yourselfer can also use and understand them without too much trouble.
Many of the listed programs offer free demos. The full programs may carry a fee. Prices are current as of December 2020.
The Flexible Retirement Planner
The Flexible Retirement Planner offers a free evaluation version for download on its website. The retirement spreadsheet takes basic inputs such as your current age; your retirement age; total amounts saved in tax-deferred, taxable, and tax-free accounts; the estimated rate of return on savings; your tax rate; and your annual contributions to savings. The planner then runs various simulations to account for differing investment outcomes and assesses your probability of achieving success, meaning that your money lasts for your lifetime.
The site also offers a series of additional free retirement planning spreadsheets for download under its Tools section. These more targeted spreadsheets include a Portfolio Asset Allocation Tool, a TIPS Ladder Builder, and a Portfolio Withdrawal Simulation.
Surveys show that retirees are often caught off guard by how large their tax bill is in retirement. Unlike many of the free but generalized tools out there, Simpleplanning provides a detailed tax calculator that allows you to model out a complete tax return. The demo version is free but if you want additional functionality with a built-in retirement planner, budget planner, net worth planner, mortgage planner, and more, then try its Complete Planner for $39.95.
Vertex42 specializes in Excel templates and offers a wide range of free spreadsheets for all types of financial planning and forecasting, including ones for retirement. Its simple retirement planning calculator will allow you to plan how much to save and offers additional calculators for calculating annuity, planning withdrawals, and forecasting 401(k) savings and growth. The company offers paid versions of some of its products for financial advisors.
Financial Architects is a wealth management firm that makes many of its spreadsheets available online for free on its Resources page. Scroll down the page to see retirement planning spreadsheets and articles arranged by subject. Retirees might want to check out several of them, such as their One-Person Social Security Breakeven Spreadsheet, the Pension Option Analysis Spreadsheet, the Investment Return Matrix Spreadsheet, and the Joint Life Probability Spreadsheet, just to name a few. You’ll need a good working knowledge of Excel to use these tools.
CFS Tax Software offers calculation programs for tax professionals, but the pricing on its TaxTools packages is reasonable enough ($199 a year) that those who do their own returns might be interested. One of the CFS tax planning tools enables the comparison of up to five future years side by side—an ideal feature for retirees, as you can project the tax consequences when you start making your mandatory IRA withdrawals and receiving Social Security benefits. The fully functional free demo download lets you try before you buy; the only limitation is that the downloads may not print or generate forms for you.
Ultimate Estate Planner
The Ultimate Estate Planner is a website whose resources and tools are primarily for practicing financial planners, accountants, and attorneys. But its reasonably priced charts, calculators, and software are so user-friendly and educational that many individuals may find them valuable. Located under the "Charts for Clients" vertical of the For CPAs and For Financial Advisors sections, their topics range from a white paper on capital-gains harvesting to IRA Beneficiary Trust Bundle packages.