Being a DIY financial and retirement planning advocate, I am always on the lookout for free help. This past week I came across some free financial planning resources and tools that I was previously not aware of.
Free Financial Planning Help from Mint
Recently, Mint has decided to offer more financial planning tools that go beyond household budgeting. A lot of what is new is being beta tested but you can access some of it now from Mint’s personal finance page. According to what I have read, the Mint team consulted with financial planners to develop tools for guiding Mint users in five different areas: (1) knowing about your money; (2) spending less than you earn; (3) using debt wisely; (4) investing; and (5) preparing for financial emergencies. All of this is useful for retirement planning as well.
I would take a visit then periodically return to look for announcements that these new planning tools and resources are ready for use by all of us.
CCH Financial Planning Toolkit
CCH is an established publisher of information and resources for professional financial advisers, retirement planners, and tax advisers. Now CCH is focusing somewhat on the the rest of us who like to be more hands-on in our retirement planning.
CCH now has a “financial planning toolkit” site. The site has an extensive table of contents, with information and resources divided into five areas:
- The Financial Planning Process
- Insurance and Risk Management
- Retirement Planning
- Estate Planning
- Tax Planning
I spend some time studying the retirement planning materials. Many topics are covered with planning calculators included. CCH offers two different approaches to determining how much you will need in retirement.
The budget analysis calculator is interesting because it will compare your expenses in different categories to “targets” that CCH experts recommend.
The retirement income calculator can give you estimates of how much income you can expect from your savings and investments, based on present and future balances and contributions.
The CCH Financial Planning Toolkit site is definitely worth some of your time.
ESPlanner Basic for Free Retirement Planning
Scott Burns and his colleagues at ESPlanner have introduced a free version of the ESPlanner retirement planning software. ESPlanner Basic does not offer all of the features that the paid version incorporates but it does provide a great deal of useful information.
All of the ESPlanner retirement planning tools are based on the economic principle of consumption smoothing. As explained by the publisher:
ESPlanner BASIC, economics-based software, calculates how much you should spend, save, and insure each year to achieve a stable living standard — now and through retirement.
Consumption smoothing is explained in detail – in a reader friendly way – in the book Spend ’til the End.
If you are really serious about examining your standard of living now and in retirement, ESPlanner is a must-do exercise.
Other Retirement Planning Resources
T. Rowe Price has a very good online retirement income calculator. It runs different market scenarios to estimate how much you can spend each month in retirement and the likelihood that your savings will last. It will also present different options for making up potential income shortfalls.
FYI – here are some free retirement calculators and spreadsheets and free money management tools from Google.
Please leave a comment with any other free retirement and financial planning resources that you know of.