Are You Saving Enough For Retirement? Use These 4 Simple Rules Of Thumb And Find Out Now.

This is a guest post written by Todd Tresidder.

How do you know if you are saving enough so you can afford to retire? And more importantly, are you saving enough to retire with confidence so that you can support your present lifestyle without running out of money early?

2615289324_685aa07107To answer these questions, you might consider using one of the many online retirement calculators available. Unfortunately, these “simple” retirement calculators are often complicated and require you to assume many things about your future retirement that may or may not work out to be true. It’s the old “garbage in equals garbage out” rule, and nowhere is that rule more true than with retirement calculations.

One alternative to sophisticated retirement calculators is to apply simple rules-of-thumb that allow you to quickly and easily estimate the sufficiency of your nest egg and savings plans. While these simple formulas lack the “rocket science” sophistication of Monte Carlo theory and other financial planning innovations, they do provide a reasonable ballpark approximation that is easy enough to do yourself – without a computer, software, calculator or financial planner. Usually, a pencil and the back of a cocktail napkin are sufficient.

The advantage of this simplicity is you will actually complete the exercise – which is essential to successful retirement planning. You must know the retirement savings goal you are aiming for in order to plan constructive actions to reach the goal. You are far better served by knowing a rough approximation of your retirement planning needs than to have no estimate at all.

The truth is perfection in retirement planning is impossible anyway because accuracy depends on assumptions about your future which can never be made with certainty. Therefore, it’s better to at least work with ballpark estimates than to risk being thwarted by complication that might keep you from playing the game altogether.

Below are four simple rules-of-thumb for retirement planning that will at least get you in the ballpark until you have the time and inclination to sharpen your pencil…

The Ten Percent Rule

Some old-wives-tales are true, and the importance of saving 10% of your income happens to be one of these truths. This retirement savings strategy was popularized in the bestselling book The Richest Man in Babylon. In general terms, the way the math works is if you save 10% and invest it with long term returns around 10%, your investment portfolio will grow to the point that it can support your lifestyle from earnings in roughly 35-40 years. That means you could retire and live on the investment earnings alone, never touching the principal. Your life expectancy doesn’t even matter in this situation because you would never run out of money since it doesn’t require you to spend principal. The biggest risk to this simple formula is inflation, although even with that limitation it still provides a good working approximation for how much you should be saving.

What’s fun about this formula is how easy it is to understand, easy to implement, and easily adapted to your situation. For example, if you have less than 40 years until retirement then you should obviously be saving significantly more than 10%. The sooner you start saving, the longer you have for your interest to compound to build your retirement fund. If your average investment return exceeds 10%, you won’t need to save as much. If it is less than 10%, you need to save more.

One big benefit to using this simple rule-of-thumb is you don’t need to pay for a fancy financial plan that sits in the binder on your shelf collecting dust to get started. It is a rough approximation that points a clear direction so you can get started immediately – and starting immediately is a critical factor to your retirement savings success.

The “Millionaire Next Door”

Now that we have a reasonable approximation for how much you should be saving each month, lets examine a different approach that provides an approximation for how successful your savings efforts have been to date.

According to The Millionaire Next Door, authors Stanley and Danko provide a simple yet reasonably accurate formula for assessing your wealth accumulation skills:

Multiply your age times your realized pretax annual household income from all sources except inheritances. Divide by ten. This, less any inherited wealth, is what your net worth should be.

For example, if you are 35 years old and earn $100,000 per year with no inheritances, then your net worth should be $350,000: 35 times 100,000 divided by 10 equals 350,000. If you meet this standard, consider yourself to be “on track” for moderate wealth accumulation and a successful retirement fund. You aren’t a super achiever, but you aren’t behind either.

Go ahead and do the math for yourself. How do you measure up? This formula is really just another twist on the 10% savings rule cited earlier. It is based on sound mathematics and seems to provide a conservative but realistic figure for a broad range of scenarios.

Although it does not consider inflation, taxes and varying interest rates, this simple formula does yield a useful estimate of your retirement savings goal. It gives you a fast and easy way to see how well you are progressing toward financial freedom.

Stanley and Danko go one step further, creating two additional benchmarks based on their basic formula. “Prodigious accumulators of wealth,” or PAWs, have accumulated twice the savings indicated by the formula. “Under-accumulators of wealth,” or UAWs, have accumulated half the expected total. If you are a PAW then you are reasonably on track to knowing if you can afford to retire. If you are a UAW, now is the time to step up your financial management skills and start saving more.

12 Times Income

Jonathan Clements, former columnist for theWall Street Journal and author of The Little Book of Main Street Money: 21 Simple Truths that Help Real People Make Real Money, offered another alternative to the “How Much Money Do I Need To Retire?” question by claiming a reasonable retirement nest egg should be 12 times your income. To reach this goal, the amount you need to set aside each month depends on how much time you have before your target retirement age and your current savings-to-income ratio. This premise makes a few assumptions:

  1. your income increases to match inflation,
  2. you draw 5% of your savings as income the first few years of retirement, and
  3. you achieve an investment return of 5% after inflation.

The numbers purport to yield 60% of your pre-retirement income. Combined with Social Security and other income, you might end up with 80%, a figure that most retirement calculators assume is enough. Alternatively, if your own calculations show that you need a higher percentage, then you need to amass more than 12 times your income.

Rule of 25

One of my favorite rules for simplifying how much is enough to retire is to multiply your expected annual spending for your first year of retirement by 25 to determine your total savings required. This is just a mathematical simplification of the famous 4% rule where you are allowed to spend 4% of your savings each year during retirement.

This rule is on firm empirical grounds because the sophisticated retirement planning models including Monte Carlo optimizations will generally result in spending rules ranging from 3-5% depending on assumptions and confidence interval required. Now you can get roughly the same result without a computer, software or arcane mathematics. Just take your first year of retirement spending, multiple it by 25, and presto – you are right in the same ballpark.


These quick and dirty rules of thumb are far from perfect. But the ugly truth about retirement planning is there is no such thing as perfect. In the end it is all a rough approximation anyway. For those readers wanting more explanation and detail, the ebook “How Much Is Enough To Retire” will help you understand exactly when you can afford to retire.

The future is unpredictable and conventional retirement planning requires you to predict the future in order to apply their models – this is a serious flaw. The truth is many unknowable factors will determine your financial needs during retirement, and those will only be known in the fullness of time. There are alternative models to retirement planning that don’t require you to see into the future and for those readers who don’t have the time or inclination to learn those models, this article provides some simple rules that will get you close enough for basic planning.

The important thing is to develop a concrete retirement savings goal to work toward – regardless of the model used. An inaccurate goal is better than no goal at all. You can use these simple rules of thumb to get started today and sharpen your pencil later when accuracy becomes more important.

About the Author

Todd R. Tresidder is a financial coach who retired comfortably when he was just 35 years young. His ebook, How Much is Enough to Retire? is based on his own experiences and explains how you, too, can afford to retire. Check out his web site for more retirement planning books, educational articles, and try his free retirement income calculators.

photo credit: ted.sali

Get Real About the Difference Between Needs and Wants: Enjoy the Life You Really Want to Live!

Sally wants Mark to work more so she can quit her job to be a stay-at-home mom for their two young children.  Mark wants Sally to continue working so they can pay down debt and build some savings. Despite earning a higher than average combined annual income, they often argue about money. Worse, they feel stuck, unable to do anything about their current financial situation.

Too Many Toys

This typical family lives in a four bedroom suburban home.  Kids’ toys multiply like horny rabbits, spilling into the gigantic playroom. Two newer cars and a pickup truck occupy the three-car garage. The RV attempts camouflage behind a tall privacy fence that surrounds the expansive green lawn.

The children’s toys gather dust all week long because the kids are away at daycare, 50 hours a week, while Sally and Mark work. The big toys gather dust, too — the RV rarely leaves the yard because once the weekend arrives, the family feels too wiped out to go anywhere. At least the big screen HDTV LCD surround sound system sees some love while everyone veges out…

Mom and Dad tell me their number one priority is spending quality time with their two young children. But the children spend the majority of their awake hours with daycare providers because Mom and Dad have to work overtime to pay for and maintain their grand accumulation of Stuff.

Clearly Sally and Mark’s financial obligations are out of whack with their personal priorities.

The truth is they haven’t discovered the difference between their needs and wants. Once they do, they will find it IS possible to enjoy the life they want to live, together, with their children.

How to find the difference between needs and wants:

1.   Imagine that you and your family are currently camped out in a homeless shelter, eating at the soup kitchen and receiving government assistance. Now imagine that you landed a job that earns just enough money to pay rent on a small apartment and to buy your own food.  Add bus fare for your work commute. Write down your bare bones monthly costs. Here’s an example based on data collected for an average family in the lowest income bracket:

Food = $254
Shelter = $627
Clothing = $71
Transportation (public) = $12

Total Bare Bones BASIC NEEDS = $964 a month

2.    Write down your actual expenses. Place these numbers next to the column you created in step number one above. Here’s an example using Sally and Mark’s actual expenses:

Food =  $1,027 actual
Shelter = $2,400 actual
Clothing =  $457 actual
Transportation (public) = $1,613 actual

Total ACTUAL EXPENSES = $5,497 a month

3.    Subtract your bare bones needs from your actual expenses. The results are your basic wants.

Food = 1,027 – 254 need = $773 want
Shelter = 2,400 – 627 = $1,773 want
Clothing = 457 – 71 = $386 want
Transportation (public) = 1,613 – 12 = $1,601 want

Total BASIC WANTS = $4,533 a month

4.    Similarly, separate the rest of your expenditures into needs and wants.  Be brutally honest with yourself. Sally and Mark’s looks like this:

Kids Toys = $200 actual minus $15 need = $185 want
Gym Membership = $125 actual minus $0 need = $125 want
Tobacco/Alcohol = $123 actual minus $0 need = $123 want
RV = $250 actual minus $0 need = $250 want
Cable TV = $70 actual minus $0 need = $70 want
Day Care = $1,400 actual minus $0 need = $1,400 want

Total EXTRA WANTS = $2,153 a month

Results: If Sally and Mark reduce their material wants, they could save up to $6,686 a month — $80,232 annually — easily enough to afford one parent the option to quit their job, pull the kids out of daycare and raise them themselves. If their top priority is to spend more time with their children, clearly they can afford to do so.

I’m not advocating that you should get rid of all your wants, nor am I saying that every parent should quit their job to raise their children. That’s not what this post is about. I simply find it important to uncover the role needs and wants play in our financial life. My intention is that you realize your life is full of choices. Once you decide what is truly important to you and make a conscious choice, reaching your goal is simply a matter of putting your money where your mouth is.

BONUS! I’ve created a very unique tool that calculates the difference between your needs and wants. It also uses dollars, the value of your time, AND your personal values and priorities as currency! This is the spreadsheet I use to create my own spending plan (aka budget). You can click here to download the Excel (.xls) file I created directly to your computer for immediate use. This spreadsheet works on my Mac in Numbers, too. You are welcome to share this spending plan tool with your friends or post it to your own blog.

I have a favor to ask: This post and the spreadsheet I designed took me considerable time to put together. If you like them, please share this post and/or spreadsheet with your friends, Digg, Twitter, Stumble Upon, Facebook, and other social media applications. Thanks!

Relevant Posts:

How To Revolutionize Your Spending Habits

How To Increase Your Financial Bliss

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photo credit: by Robert S. Donovan

How to Make a Million Dollars While Eating Lunch

In response to my last post, Would You Ditch A Car For $1,000,000?, a reader made the comment: “As a grad student in an urban area, I don’t have a car (nor could I afford one) and I use public transit. … I wish there was a “big ticket” item like that that I could easily cut out of my life, but there just isn’t. Instead I try to cut back on small things and aggressively invest for cashflow.”

While savings do accumulate faster when you cut back on the biggest budget-buster categories (housing, transportation, insurance and taxes), the little things do add up. Take for instance:

My Million Dollar Lunch Recipe

  1. Replace your $9.50 restaurant lunches (sandwich, fries, soft drink, sales tax, tip and mileage) with a nutritious $3.00 lunch brought from home.
  2. Deposit your $143 monthly savings ($6.50 daily, 22 working days a month) into a Roth IRA retirement account.
  3. Invest in equities (stocks, mutual funds) at a 10%* annual long-term average rate of return.
  4. Let your account simmer for 41 years.

Recipe Yield = $1,000,837

Serve: During retirement with whipped cream and a cherry on top.

Total deposits = $70,356
Total interest earned = $930,481
Total taxes paid = $0
Total Saved= $1,000,837

Optional Garnishes:

  • Combine with a 20 minute walk to the park for lunch.

    Yield: 1,277,232 calories— enough to keep off (or lose) 365 pounds! (Calculated for a person weighing 140 pounds walking 4mph for 20 minutes (1.33 miles) 5 days a week for 41 years.)

  • Pack a lunch for your spouse.

    Yield: An additional $1,000,837

  • Add a group of supportive friends for lunch to work on the Baby Steps to Financial Freedom together. Yield: Financial freedom – with friends who will have the resources to enjoy it with you!

Isn’t it amazing how much money you can amass by investing small amounts over long periods of time?

Once you think in terms of investing instead of spending, look for ways to duplicate this process in other ways. Consider the following actions:

  • buy staples in bulk and invest your savings

  • invest your employee bonuses

  • invest unexpected financial gifts and inheritances

  • invest your tax refunds

  • buy a term life insurance policy instead of a whole life one and invest your monthly premium savings

  • buy a used car instead of new and invest the difference in price

  • borrow books, movies and music from your local public library and invest your savings

  • save and invest your pocket change

Imagine this: Starting with $0 and depositing $5,000 annually in a Roth IRA account over 41 years (at a 10%* annual rate of return compounded monthly), you will have $3,081,554.

Total deposits = $210,000
Total interest earned = $2,871,554
Total taxes paid = $0
Total Saved= $3,081,554

Choose affordable and cost-effective options and rather than feel deprived, feel excited that you get to invest the difference in yourself and your future.

~ Bon Appetit!


*The actual rate of return is largely dependent on the type of investments you select. From January 1970 to December 2008, the average annual compounded rate of return for the S&P 500, including reinvestment of dividends, was approximately 9.7% (source:

Total savings are calculated in actual dollars (not inflation-adjusted). A common measure of inflation in the U.S. is the Consumer Price Index (CPI), which has a long-term average of 3.1% annually, from 1925 through 2008.

Would You Ditch A Car For $1,000,000 (One Million Dollars)?

A study found that households with 3 or more cars are the single largest group among American car owners. The national average is 2.28 vehicles per household. Obviously, Americans are very much in love with the automobile.

According to the AAA, the average American spends $9,369, excluding loan payments, to drive ONE medium sedan 15,000 a year. In arriving at this estimate, AAA figures in fuel, routine maintenance, tires, insurance, license and registration, loan finance charges and depreciation costs.

22 years ago, my husband and I sold one of our cars to pay for our wedding and honeymoon. We intended to replace the sold vehicle eventually — after we built up our credit score so we could get a car loan — but as time went by, we discovered that sharing one car between the two of us was no big deal. We learned to carpool, drop one another off, take turns, group errands, walk, bike, take the bus, work from an in-home office, go places together. Surprisingly, 22 years later, we still share just one car.

It would be difficult to figure out exactly how much my husband and I have saved over the past 22 years (with the effects of inflation), but it is easy to calculate how much more we can save if we continue to share one vehicle:

If we continue to share one car instead of owning two for the the next 29 years, invest our compounded annual savings and earn an 8%* annual rate of return, we could save an additional one million dollars**.

Would you be willing to ditch a car for a cool million? Let us know in the comments.

*The actual rate of return is largely dependent on the type of investments you select. From January 1970 to December 2008, the average annual compounded rate of return for the S&P 500, including reinvestment of dividends, was approximately 9.7% (source:

**actual value with annual investments adjusted for inflation @ 3.1%*** annually.

***A common measure of inflation in the U.S. is the Consumer Price Index (CPI), which has a long-term average of 3.1% annually, from 1925 through 2008.

How To Revolutionize Your Spending Habits

For some, buying with credit is akin to paying with funny-money. You want something, you pull out a plastic card and shazam, you own it. At least that’s what you think… But money, whether earned yesterday or tomorrow, is something we trade our life energy for.

Do you want financial freedom? Then it’s necessary to keep your credit cards (and cash) out of merchant’s hands. Today, I’m sharing a trick that can completely revolutionize your spending habits by changing the way you see the cost of the goodies that merchants want to sell to you.

Here’s the trick: Translate the number of dollars you see printed on a price tag into the number of hours the purchase will require you to work for it. By doing so, you’ll make well-informed decisions regarding what you’re willing to pay for with your irreplaceable life energy.

Do you know how much your net pay is per hour — after all work-related expenses are subtracted? Here’s a cool tool you can use to determine your bottom line: Time Value Calculator.

One of my coaching clients (Sue) earns $60,000 annually. She’s thinking about buying a new car. She’s considering taking on a $400 monthly car payment. Should she do it?

It’s not my place to answer that question for her. But I CAN help her come to her own conclusion by turning dollars into the time she’ll need to work to pay for it. Using the Time Value Calculator, we find that after taxes, commuting, daycare and other work-related expenses are subtracted, Sue’s net pay per hour is $16.07.

Now we take the $400 monthly car payment she’s considering and divide it by $16.07 to find that buying a new car would cost her almost 25 hours of time working EACH MONTH for the next five years.

Translating dollars into time made it easy for Sue to come to her own conclusion. She decided to have her current car professionally cleaned and detailed instead.

I suggested that she write her true hourly wage on a piece of paper and affix it to her credit card and checkbook. Before making any purchase, she would be reminded to divide the sales price by her true hourly wage. Is the item or service worth the hours of work required to pay for it? If so, buy it. If not, walk away.

Let’s look at some other time-price tag examples:

Apple iPod: $250 divided by $16.07 = 16 working hours.
Monthly supply of cigarettes and chewing gum: $200 divided by $16.07 = 12 working hours every month… until you quit!
House payment (PITI and maintenance) = $1600 divided by $16.07 = 100 working hours every month for 30 years.

What’s YOUR number?

Do it – convert your dollars into time. Then spend your money AND your time in accordance with your own personal values and priorities.

110 Financial Calculators: Fast Answers to Your Money Questions

Have you ever wondered how your salary compares with others in your profession? Do you want to know if it’s better to prepay your mortgage or to invest instead? Are you confused about how to accelerate your debt payoff? Curious what it will take to save your first million dollars?

Today is your lucky day! It doesn’t matter if you flunked math class; you won’t need a graphing calculator, abacus or legal pad. You don’t even need to count your fingers and toes. Simply click on your financial question, enter your numbers, and receive an accurate answer, fast!

I’ve compiled a comprehensive collection — organized by category — of 110 personal finance calculators and helpful tools. They’re free, found online and designed to help you find fast answers to your financial questions.

As they say, knowledge is power so please share this resource page with others and bookmark it to keep it handy!


What is the true cost of car ownership?
This calculator reveals the hidden costs — depreciation, interest on your loan, taxes, fees, insurance premiums, fuel costs, maintenance and repairs — associated with buying, owning and operating a car over a five-year-period.

Your next car, new or used: Which is right for you?
The average used car costs less than half the average new car. It’s no surprise that used cars outsell new cars 3-to-1.

Should I lease or buy my car?
Calculate your monthly payments and your total net cost. By comparing, you can determine which is the better value for you.

How much will the auto lease really cost?
Calculate your payment and more.

Should I get a auto loan or a home equity loan?
Two good reasons to take a look at home equity loans to finance your automobile purchase: Home equity loans often have lower interest rates than auto loans and the interest may be tax deductible.

How long should I keep a vehicle?

Should I finance or pay cash for a vehicle?

What term of vehicle loan should I choose?

Which is better: a rebate or special dealer financing?

Will driving to a cheaper gas station save me money?


How much would my budget reductions be worth if I were to invest them?
Reducing your spending can be worth more than you might think.

How will payroll adjustments affect my take-home pay?
Contributions to a retirement plan, participation in a company-sponsored flexible spending account, change in filing status, or number of allowances claimed could have a direct impact on take-home pay. Use this calculator to help compare your current situation to what-if scenarios.

What is my current cash flow?
Evaluate your personal income and expenses and see if you are running in the red or the black each month.

If I move, how much income will I need to maintain my current standard of living?
Use this cost of living comparison calculator to compare the cost of living between U.S. cities. The information is updated quarterly.

How does my budget compare to others?
Compiled with information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, this worksheet tells you how much you’re spending relative to people in the same income bracket.

Where does my money go?
See where your money is being spent and how much you have left to save. Compare your expenditures to targets, which can help identify areas for improvement.

Should my spouse work, too? (View an additional calculation here.)
Are two paychecks worth it? Child-care costs, transportation, work clothes and take-out meals all add up. See what makes sense for you and your family.

How much does it cost to raise a child?
Children are worth their weight in gold — that is, when you add up all the costs. Use this calculator to figure out Junior’s bottom line.

How much allowance might I pay my child?
Find out what your childhood allowance is worth in today’s dollars. Or compute what your kid’s allowance would be worth in any year back to 1913.


How many and what price must I sell my product at to make a profit?
The breakeven analysis calculator is designed to demonstrate how many units of your product must be sold to make a profit.

What is my business worth?
This Business Valuation Calculator creates a possible market valuation for your business and determines how much your future cash flow is worth today.

Should I lease or buy my business equipment?
The Equipment Buy vs. Lease Calculator evaluates monthly payments and your total net cost. By comparing these amounts, you can determine which is the better value for you.

What is my operating profit percentage?
Operating profit is what’s left from your sales dollar after you’ve deducted your cost of goods sold and your ordinary operating costs. Your operating profit percentage tells you the percentage of your sales that turn into profit.

What are my business financial ratios?
This calculator is designed to show you ten different financial ratios. Financial ratios are used as indicators that allow you to zero in on areas of your business that may need attention such as solvency, liquidity, operational efficiency and profitability.

Should I be a landlord?
Buying a house or duplex to rent isn’t at all like investing in stocks or mutual funds. This is hands-on work that starts with finding a property capable of generating enough rental income to make the transaction pay off. See if the numbers work.

What is the maximum self-employed retirement plan contribution I can make? Determine your maximum contribution amount for a Self-Employed 401(k), SIMPLE IRA and SEP based on the assumptions you input.


What will it take to save for my child’s college education?
Higher education carries a high price tag. If you want to send your child to college, now is the time to start saving.

How do I calculate my budget as a full-time student?
This calculator is specifically designed to help students understand their expenses and income while attending a university, college or other full-time educational institution. It allows you to input your expenses and income for an eight-month school year.

How much financial aid can I expect for college?
If finances are tight, chances are you’re going to have to rely on some combination of savings, financial aid and student loans.

How do I choose and evaluate my 529 College Savings Plan?
The question isn’t should you invest in a 529 College Savings Plan, but rather, which one?

Should I live on campus, off campus or at home?

Should I go to grad school?
A graduate degree can be the ticket to a better career or the stepping stone to advancement in your current job. But by the time you factor in lost income and the inevitable student loans, is it really worth it? Weigh the actual costs versus the fiscal benefits.

What is the value of higher education?
This calculator takes into effect any increase in expected earnings after you graduate, your estimated education expenses, and any lost earnings during the time you are in school.


How does class work? Where do I fit in?
Four commonly used criteria for evaluating a person’s position in society (class) are education, income, occupation and wealth. This interactive graphic tool allows you to access your social class and examines how economic mobility has changed in recent decades.

How does my salary compare with others in my profession?
A free basic report shows national average salaries adjusted by location.

How does my income stack up? What portion of the tax burden do I pay?
Find out how your income stacks up against your fellow citizens.

How does my net worth compare with others?
See where you rank based on your age and income.

How does my budget compare to others?
Compiled with information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, this worksheet tells you how much you’re spending relative to people in the same income bracket.

How does my savings compare with the national average?
See how much you will have accumulated when you reach age 65 and the national average of 401(k) savings in your age group.


Should I consolidate my debt?
The Debt Consolidation Calculator is designed to help determine if debt consolidation is right for you.

How can I accelerate my debt payoff?
Consolidating your debt is only half of the battle. You still need a plan to get your debt paid off.

How do I roll-down my credit card debt?
The Credit Card Roll-down Calculator applies two simple principles to paying off your credit card debt: 1) Payoff your highest interest rate first; 2) When a card balance is paid in full, apply its monthly payment to the card with the next highest interest rate. See how these principles can be applied to your debt to become debt-free.

Is my debt load too high for my income? Am I in financial trouble?
Find out how much you’re paying each month and whether your ratio of debt to income puts you at risk.

Do I have a spending problem?
The ideal spender saves money off the top, covers basic needs, stays out of debt, gives generously to charity and gets real pleasure from planned, prudent purchases. The Savvy Spending Quiz is designed to get you thinking about how you spend money and, perhaps, to bring you closer to the ideal.

What is my credit score?
See your potential credit score range by answering this credit survey.

What is my estimated range of FICO scores?
Answer these ten easy questions and they’ll give you a free estimated range for your three FICO® scores.

How do I find a credit card deal based on the criteria I care about most?
Try the Credit Card Analyzer.

Which is better for me: rebate card or low rate card?

How might a consolidated loan increase my investment balance?
Getting a consolidation loan can do more than payoff your debt. Use this Consolidation Loan Investment Calculator to see the results of paying off your debt and investing your payment savings.

How long will it take to pay off my credit cards if I only make the minimum payments?
Use the Credit Card Minimum Payment Calculator to calculate your debt pay off date.


Should I prepare my own will?
This quiz will help you assess your estate planning knowledge so you will have an idea of how much help you need to make sure what actually happens at your death is what you want to happen.

What is my life expectancy?
Your life expectancy is influenced by a number of factors including family history and your personal lifestyle.

What is my estimated estate tax liability?
Estimate your estate tax liability and project the value of your estate, and the associated estate tax, for the next ten years.


What goal is most important to me?
The Prioritizer helps you rank a series of goals or options which are most attractive to you.

What will it take to reach my savings goal?
Find out when you’ll reach your goal.

What will it take to save one million dollars?
Find out when your savings plan will make you a millionaire!


Should I prepay my mortgage? Or should I invest instead?
Compare what would happen if you took one of two choices with some extra cash you have — prepaying your mortgage each month, or investing it instead.

How much home equity will I have?
Estimate your current and future home equity by subtracting the balance on your mortgage from the projected value of your home.

Should I rent or should I buy a home?
Weed through the fees, taxes, monthly payments, home appreciation rates, inflation, future sales commissions, dues and maintenance costs to help you make a wise financial decision. (Note: I calculate 1.5% of the total home value, divide it by 12, and add it to the maintenance field.)

Am I paying too much for rent? Am I charging too little for rent?
Your rent is compared to comparable rental listings by proximity.

Should I be a landlord?
Buying a house or duplex to rent isn’t at all like investing in stocks or mutual funds. This is hands-on work that starts with finding a property capable of generating enough rental income to make the transaction pay off. See if the numbers work.

How much mortgage can I qualify for?
This calculator steps you through the process of finding out how much you can borrow.

What type of mortgage loan is best for me?
Compare mortgage payments and other monthly costs for different mortgage loan types. Get an estimate of the potential tax credit if you itemize and deduct interest on the loan.

Which mortgage loan is the best value?
Use this Loan Comparison Calculator to sort through the monthly payments, fees and other costs associated with getting a new loan. By comparing these important variables side by side, this calculator can help you pick the loan that works best for you.

How do I generate an amortization schedule for my current mortgage?
The Mortgage Loan Calculator calculates your monthly mortgage principal, interest, taxes and insurance payment (PITI) and amortization schedule.

What happens when my adjustable rate mortgage adjusts?
This calculator will help you find your new payment.

Should I refinance my mortgage?
Determine when you would break-even with a mortgage refinance.

Should I pay discount points for a lower interest rate?
You may decide to “buy down the interest rate” by paying extra money up front in the form of discount points. Determine if this might make sense for you.

What is my home’s rate of return?

What is the return on my real estate investment?
Purchase price, loan terms, appreciation rate, taxes, expenses and other factors are considerations when evaluating a real estate investment. Determine your potential IRR (internal rate of return) on a property.


Do I have the right kind of insurance?
The Insurance Planner evaluates you and your auto, home, health, life and career to make a personalized assessment of your insurance needs.

How much life insurance should I have?
Try the Life Insurance Needs Estimator to find out.

What are my disability insurance needs?
One of the most common causes of income loss is through a disability. While most disabilities cause only temporary loss of income, any income loss can be devastating if you are not financially prepared.


How Much Risk Can I Handle?
This quiz gets you thinking about your attitude toward, and capacity for, risk. It suggests typical investment portfolios based on your answers.

How should I mix stocks, bonds and cash in my investment portfolio?
The Asset Allocator is designed to help you create a balanced portfolio of investments using your age, ability to tolerate risk, and several other factors.

How much will my investment return?
Meeting your long-term investment goal is dependent on your investment capital, rate of return, inflation, taxes and your time horizon. Sort through these factors to determine your bottom line.

What was the Compound Annual Growth Rate (Annualized Return) of the S&P 500 over various time spans?
This calculator lets you find the annualized growth rate of the S&P 500 over the date range you specify; you’ll find that the CAGR is usually about a percent or two less than the simple average.

How can different investment fees impact my investment strategy?
Even a small difference in the fees you are pay on your investments can add up over time.

What will it take to reach my investment goal?
Determine how much your investment might grow before taxes, after taxes, and after taxes and inflation. It also provides suggestions on what to change if your plan doesn’t look like it will meet your investment goal.

How might I use debt to magnify my investment returns?
This Investment Loan calculator helps illustrate the effect of using a loan to purchase an investment or appreciable asset. Using debt as leverage to purchase investments can magnify your return. The downside is that you also increase your risk. For example, if your investment were to lose all of its value you would not only have lost your investment but you would still owe the balance on the loan.

How do I estimate the tax-equivalent yield for a municipal bond?
Income generated from municipal bond coupon payments are not subject to Federal income tax. In addition, if the bond was issued in your state of residence, you can also avoid state income taxes. Use this Municipal Bond Tax Equivalent Yield calculator to determine the yield required by a fully taxable bond to earn the same after tax income as a municipal bond.

How do taxes affect investments?
This Taxable vs. Tax Advantaged Investments calculator is designed to help compare a normal taxable investment, a tax deferred investment and tax-free investment.

Should I invest? Or should I prepay my mortgage instead?
This calculator allows you to compare what would happen if you took one of two choices with some extra cash you have — prepaying your mortgage each month, or investing it instead.

Which online broker is best for me?
How do you choose an online broker? The answer comes down to your priorities and what type of investor you are.

Should I be a landlord?
Buying a house or duplex to rent isn’t at all like investing in stocks or mutual funds. This is hands-on work that starts with finding a property capable of generating enough rental income to make the transaction pay off. See if the numbers work.


How much loan can I qualify for?
Use this Loan Prequalification Calculator as your first step in determining your ability to qualify for a loan.

How much will my loan payment be?
This simple tool calculates a mortgage, car loan, or any other simple interest amortization over a fixed time with fixed monthly payments.


How much am I worth?
Your net worth is the value of all of your assets, minus the total of all of your liabilities. This calculator helps you determine your net worth and estimates how your net worth could change over the next ten years.

According to The Millionaire Next Door, how wealthy am I?
In the book titled The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas J. Stanley and William D. Danko, there is an interesting wealth calculation. See where you stand.

How does my net worth compare with others?
See where you rank based on your age and income.


How much will it take to create a secure retirement?
Use this Retirement Nestegg Calculator to help determine what size your retirement nest-egg should be.

How much should I plan to save for retirement?
The charts and calculations will change as you go along, so try a few different numbers and see how different scenarios might play out for you.

Should I convert my regular IRA into a Roth IRA? Which type of IRA is the best choice for me? How much annual income might I have at retirement?

How much retirement income will my savings produce?
Annual savings, expected rate of return and current age impact monthly income during retirement. Will you have enough?

Do I know enough to plan my retirement?
Take this quiz to determine if you’re ready to tackle the task of planning your own retirement.

How might my expenses change after retirement?
The retirement expenses calculator will help you determine how your annual living expenses are likely to change after retirement.

How much might I receive in Social Security?
Use this calculator to help you estimate your Social Security benefits.

How will retirement affect my expenses?

Which savings should be used first?
Determine which accounts you should withdraw from first for income needed during your retirement.

How much money can I save in my 401(k) plan?

401(k): Should I spend it or save it?
Depending on your age and tax bracket, making the wrong decision can cost you thousands of dollars both in taxes and lost earnings. This calculator helps illustrate the difference.

What is the maximum self-employed retirement plan contribution I can make? Determine your maximum contribution amount for a Self-Employed 401(k), SIMPLE IRA and SEP based on the assumptions you input.


How much money should I stash for emergencies?
Having adequate emergency savings can make unforeseen unemployment, auto repairs, medical emergencies, property damage and legal issues more manageable.

How much can I save by packing my lunch instead of dining out?
Use this calculator to see how a simple change such as bringing a bagged lunch to work can really add up.

What will it take to reach my savings goal?
Find out when you’ll reach your goal.

What will it take to save one million dollars?
Find out when your savings plan may make you a millionaire!

How much would postponing my savings plan cost me?
Waiting to begin your savings plan can have a huge impact on your results. A delay of even a few years could cost you thousands of dollars.


What is my time worth?
Most people value their work time in relation to their gross pay, but several expenses should be subtracted. You’ll need some basic information about your spending habits to complete this worksheet.

This basic financial calculator works just like a pocket financial calculator. In addition to the normal calculator arithmetic it can also calculate present value, future value, payments or number or periods.

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