You may turn to an online retirement calculator for a simple snapshot of your retirement income needs and your retirement savings progress. These calculators are everywhere and so easy to use – but just how realistic are their projections?
In truth, not very. They fail to consider many variables. While they may have you enter your present salary, the percentage of income you want to replace in retirement, your estimated retirement date, and the rate of return for your investments, they ignore things like taxes (especially with regard to retirement account withdrawals), relocation expenses, health care costs, inflation, and your Social Security claiming strategy. Even their basic calculations can vary: input the same data into three different calculators, and the amount that you are supposed to save for retirement can vary by as much as $300,000-$400,000. So, use one or more retirement calculators to run some numbers, but confer with a financial professional you trust to tackle planning for the factors these basic tools cannot address. 1