How to Find a Retirement Calculator Online

Find a Retirement Calculator That Works for You

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••• (c) Lee Edwards, Getty Images

Online calculators are useful tools for estimating your retirement savings needs. But while they can help you map out how much to save over the course of time, there are many factors to consider before you start plugging in the numbers. Learn how and where to find the right retirement calculator online that can best estimate a plan for your future living situation.

What Is a Retirement Calculator?

In the simplest terms, retirement calculators can be used to determine how much money to save before retiring in order to maintain a certain standard of living. Even when supplemented by pensions and Social Security benefits, the loss of a full salary at retirement can quickly deplete savings. A good online retirement calculator can help contextualize your financial landscape and give you perspective on different saving scenarios.

While busting out a pad and pencil to perform simple calculations will give you a general idea of savings over time, online retirement calculators can help simplify the process because they incorporate key factors, such as inflation and interest.

And although they should never be considered a crystal ball that can predict the future, financial calculators that take a holistic view of your income, investments, health and living situation will provide the most accurate forecast of your needs.

Where to Find Retirement Calculators

A quick search online for retirement calculators will bring up an overwhelming range of options to choose from. To help narrow down the results, scan through lists of top financial calculators, and be wary of any conflicts of interest in those recommendations. You can also ask a financial advisor which calculator she recommends for your situation.

You can also use the calculator offered by your 401(k) or 403(b) plan administrator. Most large benefits providers offer a set of tools that can be a great place to start. 

If you prefer using an actual calculator, specialized scientific calculators with functions for interest rate and other key calculations are available for purchase. You can also find retirement calculator apps and software if nothing online appeals to you.

Picking the Right Online Retirement Calculator for Your Situation

While it may be tempting to use a simple online calculator that only requires a few questions to spit out a sum, the level of accuracy you receive in your estimation will likely correlate with the amount of detail, context, and information you provide.

Here are a few financial factors that can be incorporated into your retirement assessment. When using an online retirement calculator, it’s helpful to have this information on hand before you begin:

  • spouse or partner’s income and savings
  • savings
  • 401(k), IRA, and other similar plans
  • stocks, bonds, etc.
  • military or civil benefits
  • Social Security information
  • pension plans
  • other retirement incomes
  • desired age of retirement
  • life expectancy
  • account interest rates
  • inflation
  • other investments

Should I Pay for an Online Retirement Calculator?

While many online retirement calculators are free, there are some available for purchase. Before buying a retirement calculator, check out reviews and be sure that it is geared toward your age group and financial situation. For instance, does this type of calculator work for early retirement? Or for someone who is starting saving in her 20s?