Using a Retirement Calculator - dummies

By Jonathan Peterson

Copyright © 2018 by AARP. All rights reserved.

Retirement calculators ask you to fill in personal data, such as when you want to retire or how much of your current income you want to maintain when you do. They typically ask for (or provide) an estimate of your Social Security benefits. Then they project whether you’re on your way to your goal or falling short.

Retirement calculators aren’t an exact science — different calculators may produce very different numbers. But they can help you get a sense of how close you are to meeting your goal.

Here are two calculators you may want to try:

  • AARP Retirement Calculator: The AARP Retirement Calculator aims for a holistic approach, factoring in your marital status, savings held by you and your spouse, and any anticipated windfall, such as from an inheritance or a property sale.
  • Ballpark E$timate: The American Savings Education Council, a program of the Employee Benefit Research Institute, produces this tool. It’s designed to give you a bottom-line savings figure you need to reach your retirement goals. You fill in your expected retirement age and the amount you’ve saved so far to reach a savings target for the day you retire. You’re also prompted to think about how long you could live by making assumptions about your longevity. (The longer you plan to live, the more savings you need.)