Web-Based Retirement Planning Software For Consumers


Are you a do-it-yourself type who loves to have control of your finances? So many more people now handle their own investment trading and retirement planning than they did 20 years ago. We have the internet and the accompanying technology to thank for that.

Before the dawn of the internet many of us used travel agents to book trips for us. Who does that now? Almost all of us simply look online for flights and hotels. It’s easy to forget how difficult that could be before the internet.

There are so many industries that have of course changed in so many ways because of the internet, faster computers, and better technology in general. We have also seen a revolution in user experience and design where it is so much easier to use software and apps than it used to be. With a relentless focus on ease of use, many of today’s apps don’t even need user guides because they are so intuitive.

Retirement Calculators For Do It Yourself Types

Planning for retirement can be a daunting task if one does not use a financial advisor or financial planner. There are a lot of inputs and assumptions that can require serious expertise. The software that financial planners use can be complex and difficult to use. So, nearly everybody who wanted a retirement plan 20 to 30 years ago had to pay a financial planner to create the plan for them.

The cost of hiring a financial planner could and can still be very high. Some charge as much as $8,000 for their efforts! The expensive fees and the desire by so many to have control of their plan has led to more technology that allows people to figure out their retirement situation on their own.

The first foray into retirement planning for consumers involved free retirement planning calculators such as Bankrate’s retirement calculator. It might seem simple now, but 20 years ago this was a revelation to so many people. They could go online and get a very quick snapshot of when they might be able to retire comfortably.

Of course, if it’s really simple then it’s probably not completely accurate. This is definitely the case with Bankrate’s calculator. There are so many assumptions made that are not accurate for most people, such as assumptions on taxes, account types, real estate transactions, and so much more.

Not surprisingly, more modern free retirement planning tools started popping up, such as Nerd Wallet’s retirement calculator. The Nerd Wallet calculator is more modern looking, has a more intuitive interface, and is a bit more rigorous and accurate than Bankrate’s. This makes sense because Nerd Wallet is a more recent website and had the benefit of using newer technology and user interface ideas than Bankrate did when they created their calculator long ago.

Retirement Software For Do It Yourself Types

The free online calculators available, and there are a lot of them, can be a good start for figuring out when you might be able to retire. But that is really all it is: a start. The decision on when to retire is too important to leave to a relatively simple, free online calculator. What people really need to make the big retirement decision, assuming they are doing this without a financial planner, is way more rigorous and accurate retirement planning software.

One of the first software packages available to consumers that was much more accurate than simple calculators was Quicken’s Retirement Planner. This software was not web-based, but it allowed users to be more detailed with their taxes, account types, and real estate transactions. It also allowed users to specify a variety of cash inflows at different times in the future. But this software package has since been discontinued, most likely because of competition from the online world.

The most modern of the online software for retirement is WealthTrace’s Retirement Planner. This software has a lot of features that Quicken never had, such as complex what-if scenarios, the ability to import and link investment accounts, viewing historical data and transactions, an asset allocation breakdown, Monte Carlo probability analysis, and much more. It is actually more powerful than advisor-based software was just 20 years ago, but it uses a more modern user interface, which makes it accessible to the typical consumer. Between software like this and the variety of robo advisors out there that will manage your money for you using various algorithms, the finance industry is rapidly changing for the better.

Of course, unlike the free online retirement calculators, WealthTrace charges an annual fee for access. But for those who don’t want to pay a financial planner thousands of dollars, this is a bargain. It also empowers users to run projections and what-if scenarios on their plan any time they want, without having to wait for the financial planner to do it for them.

Time To Do It Yourself

In 10 to 20 years the financial advice industry might not be recognizable compared to where it was 20 years ago. Things are starting to move at internet speed and the consumer is the main beneficiary. It wouldn’t be surprising at all if it is rare to see a financial advisor office in the future. Younger people are used to doing most things online, and the idea of sitting an office while handing over money to somebody they have never met before doesn’t sit well. But using their smart phone to manage their own money and run their retirement plan sure sounds good to most.

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