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Retirement Planning Programs

Getting Help: Retirement Planning Tools

Software programs, worksheets, and online financial calculators are available to assist with retirement decisions. These tools are only as good as their underlying assumptions about key variables, however. One of the simplest retirement planning tools is the American Savings Education Council’s Ballpark Estimate (see www.asec.org). This one-page form consists of just six steps but makes certain assumptions about longevity and investment return. Another popular website is www.financialengines.com, which predicts an investor’s probability of reaching his or her retirement goal. Other sources of retirement planning tools include investment companies and county Cooperative Extension offices.

According to the 2000 Retirement Confidence Survey (RCS) conducted by the Employee Benefit Research Institute, 53 percent of American workers have calculated how much money they need to save for retirement, up from 35 percent in 1993. The 1999 RCS also found that those who have done a retirement-savings need calculation have saved considerably more than those who have not. The study found that the median amount accumulated by households that have tried to figure out how much money they will need is $66,532, compared with a median of $14,054 accumulated by those who have not done a calculation.

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