Best Downloadable Spreadsheets for Retirement Planning
Digital Tools for the Do-It-Yourself Planner in You
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 spreadsheets become more complex. 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.
Many offer free demos; for those programs that carry a fee, all prices are current as of September 2018.
The Flexible Retirement Planner
The Flexible Retirement Planner offers a free evaluation version for download on its website. The 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 it assesses your probability of achieving success, meaning that your money lasts for your lifetime.
The site also offers a series of additional free 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, Simple Planning provides a detailed tax calculator that allows you to model out a complete tax return. The demo version is free; you can upgrade to the full version for $19.95. If you want additional functionality with a built-in retirement planner, budget planner, net worth planner, mortgage planner, and more, then try their Complete Planner Premium version for $59.95.
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 spreadsheets and articles 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 Returns 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 their Tax Tools 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 multiple 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 downloads let you try before you buy; the only limitation is that the downloads may not print or generate forms for you.
The Ultimate Estate Planner Inc.
The Ultimate Estate Planner is a website whose resources and tools are primarily for practicing financial planners, accountants, and attorneys. But their reasonably priced charts, calculators, and software are so user-friendly, and so educational, that many individuals may find them valuable. Located under the "Chart 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.
Real World Personal Financial Software
The site Real World Personal Financial bills itself as being "for do-it-yourself investors and financial advisors." A variety of free money and analysis tools are available for download and experimentation, ranging from Rental Real Estate Analysis to Asset Allocation Calculators to the Real World Retirement planning program—which also comes in a Dual Real World Retirement version that allows you to compare two different retirement scenarios simultaneously.