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Show HN: Investment Calculator – A simple retirement calculator (investmentcalculator.io)
308 points by Calebbarclay on Mar 6, 2018 | hide | past | web | favorite | 210 comments

Be careful with this: The projections are gross (ie not inflation-adjusted) and the advice buried in the explanatory text below does not sufficiently discuss this issue. It says you can do a "simple" calculation by applying one year's worth of inflation versus a compounded rate of return. Assuming historical inflation rates, the value of the savings it projects will be significantly eroded compared to what it shows.

Edit: And as others have pointed out below, the returns assumed are unrealistically optimistic. Be warned about basing your retirement planning on this.

Yeah, it's also using a 9% rate of return for the "conservative" scenario and 12% for aggressive. Due to the exponential nature of compound interest, just a single point of overoptimism in your real growth number leads to a massive overestimation of your results. 1.07 ^ 30 = 7.6, 1.09 ^ 30 = 13.3, and 1.12 ^ 30 = 30.0

It's baseline assumptions are way off.

Wow, that's pretty crazy - ~5% bonds for conservative and ~7-8% for aggressive would have been more appropriate in my opinion. And I feel even those numbers may be a little optimistic.

Currently it's more like "what if you have a great market year every year until you retire" or "what if you can reliably beat the market" - neither of which is likely to happen.

To be fair the total annualized return of the S&P 500 over long periods is roughly 10%. You don't have to reliably beat the market to reach those numbers. It's interesting to play around with:


I think you forgot to click the “inflation adjusted” checkbox. The real rate of return is closer to ~7%. Also caveat emptor - past performance is no guarantee of future results.

But the calculator you're criticizing does not adjust for inflation...

I think that’s the point. A projected savings balance is misleading without considering inflation, so if the calculator doesn’t make an explicit adjustment for it then there ought to be an implicit adjustment in the rate of return assumption.

Says who?

Projecting historically low inflation is no less reckless than ignoring it. Imo, you're better off looking at absolute returns and tweaking your expectations based in inflation as itnhaopens.

On the other hand, the Nikkei's still underwater from its peak almost 30 years ago, and has been more or less flat since 1995.

Even worse, "aggressive" is being used here synonymously with "higher rate of return." The risk isn't reflected in the graph at all. Why would anyone looking at this not choose aggressive? Look how much higher the total is! Really misleading without some visual indicator that your return might actually be lower for some time horizon ...

The graph should really be cone-shaped at the far end to reflect range of risk with aggro and conservative expectations. A gradient to show high-end and low-end of returns would be visually very instructive.

5% for conservative and 7% for aggressive would have been better choices...I know the goal was to make this calculator simple, but those values should have be configurable with saner defaults.

Yowzers! Please tell me what this magical investment is where I can expect an average rate of return of 9% (let alone 12%). That is off the charts optimistic.

Assuming dividend reinvestment, the S&P 500 has returned an annual average of 10% nominally (7% real), over the last 100 years or so.

The S&P 500 is the best reference index for US equities, but I'd be wary about using its history as a base case for retirement planning. The 60 years that its existed in its present form have seen the US economy grow consistently in a way that's almost unrivaled in human history. There are lots of good arguments for why the US will not grow as fast over the next 60 years, but for me the best one is just regression to the mean. Probably the US economy will grow at a rate closer to the lower rates common in our countries throughout human history, and over a long time frame the S&P 500 cannot grow much faster than the really economy.

Forecasting 7% long-term real returns from the current state of the S&P 500 ignores the current environment - the S&P 500 is currently priced very highly relative to historical prices.

There's an interesting bit of analysis that estimates an upper bound of 3.8% -- 3.95% real returns from US Equities. Worth a read.

> Valuations today are in the 97th percentile of all valuations in history and the 83rd percentile of valuations over the last twenty years (itself a period of very high valuations). Rather than assume that they will revert back to some past average, let’s start by granting the very bullish assumption that they will remain exactly where they are today forever.


Edit: the same blog that has a great post "The Single Greatest Predictor of Future Stock Market Returns" which goes beyond "mean reversion" of equity valuations, to show how you can make a better explanation (and better long term forecasts) by considering supply and demand dynamics as investors, on average, shift their allocations of investments between equities, bonds and cash.

As previously discussed on HN: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14948078

It's important to remember that it's average return over long term. There can be long dry periods.


SP500TR annualized return between 1998 - 2011 was just 2% (before inflation)

If you bought AMZN (Amazon) in 2000, you had to wait until 2010 before the price recovered.

It's important to save over long time and reduce risk before retirement.

S&P 500 annualised returns over:

5 years - 15.79%

10 years - 8.49%

15 years - 9.92%

20 years - 7.19%

25 years - 9.69%

If you followed basic financial advice since the 80s you'd achieve those retirns.

You can get guaranteed 11% returns at https://www.twino.eu/

I used it for a while; it did work and their published financials are solid, but being happy with some risk I decided stocks where a better play.

Still, it's a useful baseline.

tino shows a default or delayed rate of around 25%. That means your returns are not risk free.

That doesn't matter, because for the highest rated loans (Buyback and PG) Twino guarantee payments even in the case of defaults or delays.

That just shifts your risk to whether or not Twino succeeds. This may be lower risk than the original loans, but it is still risk.

That's not what "guaranteed" means.

In what sense? The company guarantees you will get paid back for the loans at 11%. For higher rates there is risk, but that isn't what I'm talking about.


Just like the "guarantees" Bernie Mandoff made to his "investors."

The money has to come from somewhere and the underlying assets producing returns are speculative.

If the underlying assets don't produce enough return for the company to offset losses, then that guarantee is worth the paper it's written on.

Like I said, they have solid financials. The loans they sell are at much higher rates.

Their "solid financials" don't change the fact that their "guarantee" is entirely based on speculative investments. If the returns are lower than expected they can't fulfill the "guarantee."

I say this as someone who invests in P2P loans. They are speculate investments.

Man, you really don't like this company for some reason. It's more like a bank than a pyramid scheme, except they have higher reserves. Sure, theoretically something could happen and all their customers may default on their loans, but by your logic even cash is "speculate" because your house could burn down.

There's also issues with the suggestions. It suggests driving for Lyft or Uber for a cool $28k more a year, but the article linked doesn't seem to account for costs of that work, just revenue.

Turns out after accounting for costs Uber drivers MIGHT even make less than minimum wage https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2018/03/02/590168381...

And why "Uber?" Cuz it's cool? Why not "Starbucks barista" or "shelf stocker?" Because what we're really talking about is "work more" I guess "part time job" doesn't sound as hip as it used to...

Flexibility and "being your own boss" (deciding when you're going to drive by yourself, not with some kind of manager) is important to a lot of people.

Is that actually a suggestion? If you make an upper middle class salary (like a programmer does) and reasonably control your expenses, I think you only are going to miss making retirement if you have an expensive medical disaster or you invest too heavily in the market then sell during a crash to make rent, or some weird thing like that. I'm not sure if $20000 is going to make your difference

This effect of tiny changes having massive impacts is why Gordon Brown’s smash and grab raid on the private sector pensions, coupled with artificially low interest rates was so damaging and lead directly to the property bubble and the financial crisis in the UK.

>it's also using a 9% rate of return for the "conservative" scenario...

If 9% is good enough for most federal, state, and local pension estimates, it's good enough for us, too. /s

If you want a fun story of making terrible long term choices based on faulty rate of return numbers, look no farther than MLB player Bobby Banilla (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bobby_Bonilla).

The Mets wanted to get rid of Bobby in the year 2000 but owed him $5.9M. Mets owner Fred Wilpon thought it a good idea if he asked Bobby to defer payments on that $5.9m for 11 years. Fred would invest that $5.9M today and make out in the black. Fred would just turn around and get a 10% return from his buddy Bernie Madoff and have over $16M in 11 years.

Lets just say that story doesn't have a happy ending. Bobby Banilla will get paid $29.8M dollars over 25 years for a season he never played. http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/the-bobby-bonilla-retire...

Hell, no! Google for "unfunded pension liabilities". 9% is wildly unrealistic for those estimates as well, but the folks who negotiate those hope to be retired and gone far away by the time when those obligations come due for large numbers of retirees.

Not only that but people change risk throughout their lifetimes with their age and life situation. You're probably going to start out very aggressive in your 20s and end up a bit more conservative by your 50s. Usually.


Double Yikes!

I agree with this. Inflation is a huge factor and needs to be considered with any retirement calculator because you can't assume that your $100K today is worth $100K in 20 years.

I actually built a calculator myself to better accommodate for inflation and have the ability to tweak the numbers just a bit more. If you're interested:


Huh. Crazy how close it is to my implementation - https://modelinvesting.com/retirement-calculator/

You have a UI bug on your tooltips on advanced fields. They show up way above where they should be =)

Awesome tool! I honestly feel like the more of these there are in the world, the better. So many opportunities to help people learn more about investing, saving, etc.

I know that's a bug I need to fix, something with bootstrap. Thanks for pointing it out and hopefully will have a fix tonight!

Thank you! I have a ton of fun doing the development for that site, calculators and all. Definitely one of my flagship products over the years, great client -> great product =)

Hey Folkhack. Nice to see you on this thread. I posted a link to my retirement calculator here too. It was always fun discussing design with you.

Eyyy asaph - was good to see you in here too! Always down to chat design. Stop by again if you're ever in the neighborhood!

Why is there a minimum amount on the field for how much you need? i.e. if I make $500k now, why am I forced to spend $100k in retirement? What if I only need to spend $50k?

I think if you look in the advanced fields you can change to how much you need in retirement to set a separate number. We auto calculate and extrapolate based on current savings rate, but a lot of people will spend much less in retirement.

Just fill out the field income in retirement under advanced fields and I think that should (hopefully) be what you're looking for.

Yes, sorry to say, but this is a good idea (and you see plenty of those calculators), but assumptions and findings do not make sense. Inflation for long-term projections is one of the main drivers of the final results; you cannot ignore it.

It would be much better to make estimates in inflation-adjusted (today's) dollars: at least then one can relate the results to costs you see today. And even in pre-inflation dollars, average 9% return is anything but conservative.

On smaller points: adding "0" as an invest monthly option would be a good idea.

yeah, 9% and 12% do seem a bit high.

but, other than that, it's a good calculator and I like the idea and the interface is nice too.

Those seeking a much more sophisticated retirement calculator, where you can set nearly every parameter, such as rate of return, amount saved, and nearly everything else, should checkout firecalc.

You can select different withdrawl rate strategies, different investment strategies, deferred compensation strategies, different investment mixes, and many, many other things.

The interface isn't as pretty, but it is unbelievably sophisticated.


I second the motion on firecalc because it really helps you visualize in how many 30 year periods historically you would have gone to zero (which is obviously the thing everyone most needs to avoid). The 100 year averages are useless as they don't encapsulate realistic investing lifetime chunks of around 30 years, the firecalc approach gets around this with the 30 year increment parameter (which you can tweak as well). It's a better way to approach the problem.

Another more detailed one is cfiresim


I love "retirement end year" in this...aka death.

I can certainly picture the dev frowning at the screen trying to think of a way of not just saying "bucket kicking date".

I opened, there is too much info for my small brain to grasp and closed it. :-(

It's worth noting that this is targeted at FIRE folks - people who want financial independence (don't need to work to live) and want to retire early. To be able to retire 10+ years before the average american, you want to have a much higher degree of confidence that your financial plan can sustain you for 30/40/50 years. That requires much more complicated financial planning.

Or you can just max our your 401k, IRA, HSA, save enough of what's left over to make sure you can have a comfortable retirement at 60ish. The math for everybody else actually isn't as tricky as it seems for mid-to-high income folks. It's generally more about reigning in spending than fancy spreadsheets.

It's applicable math and a good check for anyone who wants to retire.

You are correct that reduced earnings period and a longer withdrawal period does increase risk for early retirees, though.

Best to figure this stuff out sooner rather than later, your future self will thank you. Don't bury your head in the sand on retirement. I ignored retirement planning until I was in my mid 30s, I wish I thought about it more before then.

Read "A Random Walk down Wall Street" and start investing.

+1 for A Random Walk Down Wall Street, it was really eye opening to see how unpredictable the market really is.

That's sort of the point. The reality is complex and the future is unpredictable. Simple calculators give false confidence in their results.

It models a bunch of different possible investment returns to show you how your money would fare over a long period.

This is a great tool for showing people what risk actually means..

Is there anything on how to figure out what your retirement goal should be?

Like how am I supposed to estimate costs I will need in retirement to know how much I need to start with.

A good guesstimate: 1. Figure out your current lifestyle expenses (you can track this over time if you use mint.com or other websites) 2. Subtract your mortgage if you plan to have it paid off by retirement 3. Add in fudge factors for healthcare expenses and increased or decreased discretionary expenses, depending on the lifestyle you think you will live

As with any planning, you can stare at the numbers forever and not feel satisfied. There is no one true answer.

Your lifestyle/spending in your 20s and 30s has little to do with your retirement lifestyle/spending. Especially if you're rasing children...

And is that an argument not to plan at all? Of course you can't pinpoint an exact figure, but it still pays off to plan even on a ballpark figure.


I did not say don't plan at all, just think about the lifestyle you may have in the future, not the one you have now.

The firecalc page has a link to US averages [0]. I haven’t used it myself, so I count vouch for its utility.

[0] https://www.firecalc.com/real-cost-of-living.php

The normal optimistic number is a 4% yearly WD rate, so 25x yearly expenses saved. I’m a believer in no more than 3% withdrawal, so at least 33 years of expenses.

Am I missing something? The calculator only shows how long my money will last given a spending rate and starting value.

There are many additional places to enter information.

Immediately below the banner at the top of the page are links to several other pages: "Other Income/Spending"; "Not Retired?", and so on.

was just going to suggest this. I learned a lot using firecalc.

"In order to get a good understanding of the purchasing power of your future retirement savings for today, you can do a “simple” calculation: Take your total retirement savings and multiply it by 3%. For example, if you have $1.25m (retirement savings), multiplied by 0.03% (inflation), you get $45,000 in inflation. Then you subtract that number from your total savings: $1.25m - $45k = $880k. This will give you a baseline to understand your financial situation."

Yeah, so $1.25m - $45K is NOT 880K.

Also, the effect of inflation compounds every year. So maybe you want to divide the nominal answers you are giving out by (1.03)^num-years-from-today to get the real value (in today's dollars) .

Please do better math.

also $1.25MM x 3% = $37.5k

Not $45k

It is difficult to trust the calculator when arithmetic errors exist in the prose.

good lord. I didnt even check that one.

Yep. Such as .03% vs 3%.

> Then you subtract that number from your total savings:

You subtract your annual spending (3%) from your total invested? Why would you do that? To arrive at the total amount you'd have invested after you spend for a year?

This paragraph reads like a markov chain generator.

From the FAQ:

What is my retirements purchasing power today?

Inflation is inevitable. If that word is new to you, it simply determines how much purchasing power your dollar has. Historically, inflation has always increased with time.

In order to get a good understanding of the purchasing power of your future retirement savings for today, you can do a “simple” calculation: Take your total retirement savings and multiply it by 3%. For example, if you have $1.25m (retirement savings), multiplied by 0.03% (inflation), you get $45,000 in inflation. Then you subtract that number from your total savings: $1.25m - $45k = $880k. This will give you a baseline to understand your financial situation.

I don't even.... What !? There are so many things wrong with that calculation.

Its just not bad math, it's also bad history.

It actually says that the rate of inflation always increases with time, which is... not true! Even if it's trying to say, clumsily, that there has been inflation every year historically... that's also not true. There has been periods of deflation, historically


This is a really good interface but the assumptions backing the results seem weak. The growth rate on conservative and aggressive portfolios are high. The recommended amounts of saving should be as % of income. Recommending someone that makes 100k save 100 dollars a month is not great. It's also sad that the maximum amount saved per month is 1k where even just maximizing 401k is 1.5k a month.

Yeah, the return rate, even for conservative is WAY too high.

The return isn't adjusted for inflation, so it's not that far off. That's probably misleading though.

You can set a custom number...

I love the simplicity and the look of the UI. Unfortunately I think the simplicity means that very important parameters are being left out. Ideally, you should be able to specify estimated return rate and estimated inflation rate. Also, specifying the draw down rate would be nice... I've poured through a lot of these calculators recently as I've begun to get interested in FIRE... I think the most simple (but good) one is the AARP calc if you want a simple example.

Finally, and I think this is where it really falls short - this calculator is WAY TOO OPTIMISTIC out of the gate. I just cross checked it w/ my own calculations - it doesn't add up. Its "conservative" estimate is way higher than my "optimistic" plan (10% return / 3% inflation based on a passive index investing strategy)

>>> Take your total retirement savings and multiply it by 3%. For example, if you have $1.25m (retirement savings), multiplied by 0.03% (inflation), you get $45,000 in inflation. Then you subtract that number from your total savings: $1.25m - $45k = $880k. This will give you a baseline to understand your financial situation.

I don't fully understand... 1.25M - 45k is most definitely not 880k. Did you do something else that you forgot to list?

Maybe they meant 3% inflation.

These things are always a bit depressing and make me want to invest in a bottle of bourbon.

There is etf for whisky $WSKY

I have a really simple mental calculator for this: Can I ever retire? Only if social security is still there.

All this does is scare me. I honestly hope I die before I have to retire, because there's no way I'm going to have saved enough money to live off of, even modestly, and no way I'm going to remain sharp enough to continue earning through and beyond my 60s.

> there's no way I'm going to have saved enough money to live off of

It is possible. It will take work and change on your part. The first step is to track your spending. The easiest way to do this is get an account with mint, ynab (you need a budget), or personal capital. You can link all of your accounts with the site and app. You can then categorized your spending. After you do this you can start seeing where you can reduce your spending. The major areas you can save on are housing, transportation, food, and miscellaneous. The reverse order is probably the easiest to reduce costs.

The Millionaire Next Door is a great book that talks about the difference in mindset between people who are able to build wealth well and those who are not able to. It is really eye opening if you are always broke.

There is no straightforward risk-less formula, unfortunately. You can follow all the textbook advice, have a budget, max your 401k, pay down your debt, buy a house, blah blah blah, and after 20 years still only have 1x or 1.5x your salary in total savings [ask me how I know] due to bad luck, unfortunate market timing, lack of skill in investing, emergencies, etc. I hate all this simplified, incomplete advice. If successfully saving for retirement was so straightforward and deterministic, there wouldn’t be an entire industry, with consultants and books, built up around trying to help people hopelessly navigate it.

If you start at 25, saving 10% of your salary into a 401k and never get divorced, spend <30% of your gross income on housing, and don't borrow to spend more than you make 90% of the time you will come out alright.

> If successfully saving for retirement was so straightforward and deterministic, there wouldn’t be an entire industry, with consultants and books, built up around trying to help people hopelessly navigate it.

There is a full industry. Saving money (for people with incomes above the median), like losing weight is simple. Yet there are still fat people and broke people.

>saving 10% of your salary

impossible for most people

>spend <30% of your gross income on housing

impossible for many (most?) places with jobs

>don't borrow to spend more than you make 90% of the time

this factor is indeed entirely up to individuals and a perpetual point of failure... but refusing to borrow and cutting minor expenses is not a road to any kind of wealth for most people. it's a road to retiring poor. most people are on that road.

> >saving 10% of your salary

>impossible for most people

Part of me is tempted to look up statistics to make the point but if you are making more than 150% of the poverty line in the US, you can save 10% of your income, it is a choice not to.

> >spend <30% of your gross income on housing

>impossible for many (most?) places with jobs

It all depends on where you are willing to live. Also, if you move to somewhere to get a job, before you accept the offer you should check to see if it is possible to move there and follow this guideline. If you, you shouldn't move there because you will become worse off.

> refusing to borrow and cutting minor expenses is not a road to any kind of wealth for most people. it's a road to retiring poor. most people are on that road.

Depends on what you count as minor expenses. If I cut out $100 a month of expenses starting at age 25, and put that in an index fund that grows at 8% until I retire at 67 it will be worth $412,077.88. If I want to retire a millionaire I need to save just under $250/month, which is 10% of a 30k a year job. At $30k I am a little sympathetic if you cannot save $250/month. If you are making $50k, it is a matter of choice.

>if you move to somewhere to get a job

you're out of touch. this is not even the same type of job that the majority of people have access to. people's standard of living is far beneath what you suspect.

>If you are making $50k, it is a matter of choice.

try having a mortgage or high rent, a medical problem, kids, parents who need care, a car, student loans, clothing that aren't tatters, an emergency fund.... and all that comes before even baseline (necessary) entertainment / low-luxuries like internet access and padded chairs.

it isn't a matter of choice for most people. nevermind that 412k isn't enough to retire on if you have any of those burdens above. sure, they could spend $20 a week less on beer. but why would they?

>mortgage or high rent

Find a cheaper place to live.

>a medical problem

This is the one I have the most sympathy for, US healthcare is broken, people shouldn't have to go bankrupt to pay for life saving care.


1) Wait until you can support them until you have them. 2) Just because you spend a lot of money does not mean you will raise better children. Americans as a whole seem to think otherwise.

> parents who need care

Again, I am sympathetic but this doesn't apply to everyone, or even the majority of people.

> a car

You can find a reliable used car for ~10k often times much less than that. Getting a ~20k or worse a ~40k car every 3 years is a waste.

> student loans

On one hand, people were given really bad advice on college. On the other hand, people took really bad advice. High school need to be better informed about the long term cost of college.

> clothing that aren't tatters

Goodwill, Ross, discount stores all great places to get non-tattered clothing.

> an emergency fund

If you are disciplined enough to build an emergency fund, after it is funded, keep being disciplined and start saving for retirement.

Amen! I read The Millionaire Next Door when I was 22. Bought a house in a low-cost but appreciating neighborhood. Started working with an accredited financial advisor. Saved double-digit percentages of my income. Worked hard, made a six-figure income.

At forty? Here I am tens of thousands in debt, all that hard work gone. I did all the things society told me to do if I wanted to live the good life, but life can come at you in unexpected ways. For some people it is poor health, others a crazy ex and a truly unfair divorce. Businesses succeed, but sometimes they also fail.

Much like the founding story myth discussion here on HN, we might do well to hear some stories of personal financial failure as vehicles for learning.

What happened? I'm always interested in the stories where things didn't work. People don't hear those.

>You can follow all the textbook advice, have a budget, max your 401k, pay down your debt, buy a house, blah blah blah, and after 20 years still only have 1x or 1.5x your salary in total savings [ask me how I know] due to bad luck, unfortunate market timing, lack of skill in investing, emergencies, etc. I hate all this simplified, incomplete advice. If successfully saving for retirement was so straightforward and deterministic, there wouldn’t be an entire industry, with consultants and books, built up around trying to help people hopelessly navigate it.

You can follow all the textbook advice, study hard, fill in your applications on time, get good grades in college, and once you graduate you could still not have a job for years due to bad luck, unfortunate economic conditions, lack of skill in picking your major, emergencies, etc.

What should I conclude about all the advice on studying?

I completely agree that these things are oversimplified and people don't discuss luck enough. However, if you're able to isolate your retirement savings from the rest of your life (which is a big if which doesn't apply to many people!), things aren't so bad on a long timeline. Here are two data points that I find quite compelling. The first is about a theoretical person who saves money in cash between market run-ups and only invests at market peaks (spoiler, they end up with much more than they invested). The second just points out that the S&P 500 has never had a nominal 30 year streak with less than ~8% annual growth (which is not to say it couldn't).

http://awealthofcommonsense.com/2014/02/worlds-worst-market-... http://www.businessinsider.com/30-year-sp-500-returns-impres...

There is an interesting article on the relationship between savings rate and number of years required to save for retirement.

Given a savings rate, the number of years required is income-invariant. (A given savings rate may not be invariant of course.)


The Millionaire Next Door is not a great book - it's just survivorship bias and assumes correlation is causation.


Plus one of the authors died driving a Corvette, not a Corolla...

Like all self help books, it's about selling hope.

Furthermore, you were entirely unwarranted in making the assumption that the GP has a spending problem instead of an income problem.

You have no idea what parent poster's income and skills are.

You are right, I don't but since they are commenting on hacker news I give it a >90% that if they are willing to change their lifestyle than they can become less stressed about money.

Pay off a modest $100k house in a low cost of living area and you should be able to survive on Social Security alone.

Save more if you can though.

Do this when you are young, too. Doing this when you're older, say 50+, can still work, it's just harder. Unless I pay my mortgage off early, before I qualify for Social Security, I'll still be paying it. On the other hand, it's less than $800/month, so I am not too worried.

A mortgage is a sort of reverse bond. Ideally, you pay it off aggressively shortly before you plan to retire.

This whole blog series is great, and I'd recommend it, but this particular post is the one responsive to the mortgage and retirement part:


I paid my mortgage off in my late 20s as a hedge against future unemployment.

Do retirees have to pay property taxes?

Yes, but usually receive a discount for being seniors. That’s why I said low cost of living. Tennessee is nice.

And a lot of places freeze your property tax at 65, so you never have to pay more.

Most property tax is local not state. I don't have the percentage breakdown, but I have encountered this multiple times within my family (anecdotal I know). It's quite possible that this percent is not a majority.

Plus, your link is more like ~14/50 states if you're only considering lower income folks.

Social security is a supplement, it’s not meant for you to live off, nor should you expect it to always be around.

Social security is meant to be a foundation, not a supplement. It's supposed be enough to live on, but not enough to live luxuriously on.

Social Security, in my retirement? That's a laugh.

While it is fashionable to doubt that Social Security will be around for the Gen X or Millenial retirements, the reality is that it's simply a matter of political will.

If people like Social Security (and they generally do), then all they have to do is vote for politicians who will protect it, and harass politicians when it looks like they won't.

Of course it's fine to plan for a retirement without Social Security... having too much money in retirement is not generally considered a problem.

But if you're feeling despair over Social Security, know that there is something you can do about it: political organizing.

IMO, publicly despairing that social security won’t exist in the future only serves to shift the Overton window, making it more likely that social security won’t exist.

Of course it won’t exist. It’s an asinine, regressive policy that uses trick after evil trick to convince voters that it’s not an unholy abomination.

I know my rhetoric sounds like a joke, but I’m 100% serious. You have the fake notion that “employers pay half” (no, the worker pays 100% of it truly), you have its regressive nature (poor people start working earlier and also die earlier, so it’s a redistribution towards the wealthy), you have the fact that it’s sold as a sort of insurance/retirement account when in actuality it’s neither.

Honesty, you’d be hardpressed to find a more awful government “safety net” program. I miss the days when I supported myself only on illegal income and got to avoid the whole issue. Alas, those days are gone.

>You have the fake notion that “employers pay half” (no, the worker pays 100% of it truly)

You have the fake notion that if we didn't have SS, employers would pay you more.

>you have the fact that it’s sold as a sort of insurance/retirement account when in actuality it’s neither.

It is in actuality neither. However, because of it, seniors were the age group who were least likely to be in poverty during the recent recession. During those years, it really acted well as a safety net.

I agree. I think Social Security, like Medicare, is a "third rail" sort of thing. I expect politicians will have to cut back military spending before they can go after Social Security

You haven't heard of Paul Ryan?

Politicians don't listen to you or me. They listen to Moneybags McGee and his PAC. The vision of democracy that you described in that comment doesn't exist in the United States.

The fact that Social Security has survived for several decades is evidence otherwise. Even Moneybags McGee knows better than to poke at AARP and the most reliable voting demographic in the world.

Even the conservative assumptions of the SSA show that SS will have some funding for your retirement, just not 100% of what is current promised. (Something like 75% 30 years from now)

Social Security will exist in some form because Americans won't let the elderly starve en masse, but there will likely be partial means testing (people with higher incomes or possibly assets get lower benefits), higher eligibility ages, and lower basic benefits.

Even on the current path, if no changes are made to improve solvency, social security will pay out at about 75%.

http://firecalc.com has better math and less distracting gunk like the nonsense ways to "Save more"

It should be possible to click on or hover over "aggressive" and "conservative" and see what the assumptions are. And the simulations must be account for volatility to be useful. Otherwise, everyone should just invest aggressively and put all their money in stocks, since they have higher average returns than bonds.

> The average tax refund in the US is $3,050 per year.

> Avoid spending tax refunds to get to your retirement faster.

The advice should instead tell the user to plan the tax payments to avoid giving the government an interest free loan by overpaying taxes and getting it back as a refund much later. Of course, a particular sum should be invested regularly.

Great interface, but I would find it more useful I could pick an estimate rate of return for my investments and choose the rate of inflation. It's also be useful for there to be a "max out 401k" button for how much I want to contribute.

For those interested in learning the fundamentals behind that calculator, I wrote a book that can be read in an hour, and received praise from Derek Sivers, David Heinemeier Hansson, and many others.

You can read it for free online, or download the PDF (also free).


If you like it, I just ask that you help spread the word. Starting investing when your young is so, so important. And unfortunately the core essentials are often diluted with unnecessary complexities in most of the mainstream books. That's why I wrote this one.

>Starting investing when your young is so, so important

this is why student loans have made perpetual paupers out of the better part of an entire generation.

Nice to see your income rise so much just before you die and a lawyer gives it all away. Alas “the old have the means but no mobility, and the young have the mobility but no means”

What are you even talking about? When you retire you stop accumulating savings and start spending it. At first it continues to grow but if you plan correctly you will have made good use of it by end of life. Then it will be depleted.

By the time you retire you have more capital accruing interest, and generally more to invest in the attendant better investment opportunities available. That's what they meant.

My guess would be that there are very few people out there, at any stage in their career besides retirement, for whom interest and capital gains are more than a tiny fraction of their income. For most workers, things like salary, bonus, and (for a lucky few) stock grants make up 90% or even 99% of our income until we retire.

Parent is saying that in retirement your income is interest on your invested savings

$4700/mo is considered a 'frugal' lifestyle income? That feels...I don't know...out of touch?

It probably will be by the time you retire, assuming your not close to it already.

Sure, that's a reasonable point to consider, but this website is clearly not factoring in inflation's effect on income value. It says the same thing whether you want to retire this year or in 30 years.

Impressive. I imagine lots effort has been put into making the user interface as clean as possible. It's a pleasure to fiddle with the parameters and see the impact on the curves.

The only downside (for me at least) is that I live in UK. And my pension plan is not in $$$.

I have the same issue, if we could change the percentages we could ignore the dollar signs.

Nice! I have used http://calculator.moneyforsomething.com for years, I may have to try yours out the next few "spreadsheet days" I have at home. :)

I like how this calculator includes fees. Fees are so often overlooked when calculating retirement.

"Lots of people are unknowingly paying 2%, and more, in annual fees. At a low-cost brokerage you can get away with 0.5%. See what a difference that does to your final balance."

The UI implies they recommend that I have more money saved now than I actually do. I agree!

x: How much do you need to live for a year?

y: How much do you need to retire forever?

    y = 25x

Why do you assume no returns in those 25 years of retirement?

He does. He says "forever" not 25 years.

(Research has shown that 4% drawdown of your wealth every year combined with an investment into stocks (assets with 3.5-4% post-inflation return) will generally preserve your capital stock - and even in the worst cases won't completely erode it.

100%/4% = 25

That assumes that you'll live until 90. What if you live longer?

This works if you retire at 20 and live to 100.

Withdraw 4% every year and you can live on your investments forever.

For comparison, this is a calculator that was built by actuaries[1] for the Australian market:


Some really important things that are built into it are:

- Everything is given in "today's dollars" and that's done by reference to a salary index, NOT a price index, to reflect increases in community living standards.

- It shows some indication of the income level you can expect during retirement given your lump-sum retirement benefit.

[1] I was one of the actuarial staff that contributed to it

Pretty cool! I use the "Retirement Planner" from Personal Capital (like Mint but for investments) Some of the notable features are:

- Adding future income events (social security, pension, etc)

- Inflation adjusted.

- Set future spending goals (buying a house, wedding, health care)

- You can also save different simulations and get a percentage chance of hitting that goal. I have one for if Social Security doesn't exist when I retire, another one for early retirement, etc.

It's free to sign up. https://personalcapital.com/

You can save money by decreasing your savings every month instead of contributing a fixed amount. I've never seen an investment calculator or vehicle that allows for such a plan.

Do you mean "frontloading" the year? As in 1000 jan, 900 feb, etc? Or was it a typo and you meant decreasing your spending?

Smoothly decreasing every month for the entire savings period. Maybe it isn't popular because income tends to increase over the course of a career?

It doesn't make much sense to do logically because you can front-load a lot less at the beginning of your career. It's far better to design a sustainable lifestyle you like when starting out and aggressively fight scaling it up with your income. If you do that the numbers will work themselves out.

On the other hand, rising disposable income is supposed to be a good thing (annuities for lottery winners etc). Cost of living tends to rise with age, too (kids, healthcare...).

> rising disposable income is supposed to be a good thing

That's the lifestyle inflation I'm alluding to. If one can be happy spending X/year 5 years ago, why can't one be happy spending inflation-adjusted X/year today?

Agree about kids and healthcare but those aren't "lifestyle" costs.

It's not clear that the slider represents your current age and the age you plan to retire. Numbers seem very high compared to other calculators I've done.

I'd like to know what aggressive/conservative means, and also be able change it, aggressive in the US might be different than in other countries.

>>> "What do Aggressive and Conservative mean? The Investment Calculator uses two investment strategies that typically produce two different retirement scenarios. Aggressive investing indicates a higher financial risk with a higher potential reward, while conservative investing offers a lower financial risk with a more moderate potential reward. Aggressive investing typically means that you will invest in more stocks than in bonds. This type of investment strategy is smart when you have a longer amount of time before your retirement. A longer amount of time can also, in theory, withstand all the volatility of the stock market. The other good news is that more time passing will compound your interest, resulting in significantly larger retirement savings. Conservative investing is a more balanced strategy in which you invest in stocks as well as bonds. The return, or the amount that your money grows, is not as large as it can be when aggressively investing but the risk is lower. Conservative investing is best when your retirement date is nearby. Vanguard published a great article about these types of scenarios, showing the historic risks and rewards in quantitative form. These table graphs will show the different strategies in terms of being “growth” or “balanced” oriented and displays the assumptions behind each retirement strategy."

I meant to know what percentages he used, conservative/aggressive is relative.

In the US the FED Interest Rate was about ~.25-.55 a couple years ago where the Brazilian was ~14%

Related: Here was a weekend project I did about a year ago:


I use it for my own financial projections. I wanted something simple that didn't base post-retirement income on a percentage of pre-retirement income. I just wanted to input a dollar amount for post-retiremt income and have that adjusted for inflation.

The tool fails to explain what specific investments it's modelling this on. I'm assuming ETFs, but those returns seem suspiciously high.

As others have noted the assumptions in this calculator are dangerously optimistic. The only simple retirement calculator you need is here: https://retirementplans.vanguard.com/VGApp/pe/pubeducation/c...

These tools ever adjust for taxes paid when you trigger a cap gain. It usually assume you never sell and buy a different stock

One nuance that is sorely needed is to change your risk profile as you age. Aggressive investment when you are 30 makes sense. Not when you are 60. The decision of when to start moving to more conservative portfolios is a personal choice... but you certainly don't stay in one bucket throughout your entire life.

what's pisses me off about these calculators is they completely ignore deduction limits[-1] and considering the audience here, there's plenty of people who do not benefit at all from contributing to an ira, or even a 401(k) if you plan on retiring earlier than 65

in fact, it's detrimental, compared to the fund flexibility of a standard brokerage

i wish people would talk about this more; perhaps there's something i'm missing, but after a certain income threshold, iras and 401(k)s seem like foolish investment decisions

[-1] https://www.irs.gov/retirement-plans/plan-participant-employ...

Use can use the Roth conversion ladder to access retirement funds early.


You can use a Backdoor Roth to get around income limits.


Anyways, this "caluculator" didn't mention anything about taxable accounts vs tax advantage accounts.

Would be really nice if you could add funds & portfolios. Also how are you calculating growth rate? which funds?

where on earth do you get 9% returns on 'safe' investments? According to historical records, the average annual return for the S&P 500 ('aggresive') since its inception in 1928 through 2014 is approximately 10%, but you may have to partially cash out at a low point.

Here's a calculator I built to visualize retirement income from recurring purchases of deferred income annuities:


"How much do you currently have saved?"

What does this mean? Cash? Illiquid assets? Retirement funds?

Since this is a retirement calculator I assume it’s asking about your retirement fund.

Why do those distinctions matter when considering retirement? They all go into the same pool in the end.

The design of this site has a lot of parallels with Wealthfront (https://www.wealthfront.com/) made me think it's a Wealthfront project.

I very much enjoyed the design of the website. It is very similar to that of Stripe.

Very cool. This reminds me of the retirement tool I've seen in Betterment. The things you can do to earn more money or cut out of your daily spendings is super nice way to visualize some common ways to make or spend money.

Found a small bug-- if you accidentally hit '-', then the "amount saved" ends up negative. Couldn't undo it short of reloading the page. Mathematical hilarity ensues...

Someone should make a debt calculator that shows when debt will be paid off.


I believe I first saw this as a Show HN a few years ago. Enter in each of your debts (balance, minimum payment, interest rate) and select your method of repayment and the extra you can put into it (if any).

Thanks for the link, this is awesome!

Here's a debt clock https://www.death-clock.org/

Here you go! https://www.dropbox.com/s/irkk2z2g35w2uru/debt-spreadsheet.x...

I've used this to pay off $112,000 in student loans in 30 months, which is 4x faster than the loan term!

Unfortunately "How much do you currently have saved" does not take negative values, and so this is no use to me.

Decent UI for a monthly + interest style calculator. I like it.

I think it's asking how much you've saved for retirement, not what your net worth is.

Math error: $1.25m - $45k is not $880k. It's 1.205M.

I'm not sure how this calculates the investment savings but I hope it is right!

Says starting with 300k and saving 500/mo I'll have $2.4mil in 20 years...

That's the power of compounding interest. Just make sure to avoid fees. They compound, too.

Inflation also compounds

Recommended Savings for 19yo ist 10k? After College it is more like 30k debt!

It is a nice idea but not realistic with the recommendations imho.

You desperately need to grab someone from the street and see if he knows what he's looking at. The UI is not very intuitive, or you have specific target audience.

- Age range input. It took me a minute to understand what this is for. I assume the lower bound is my current age and the upper bound is the retirement age

- How much do you currently have saved? ex $1,000. I actually tried to type a dollar symbol and nothing happened.

- Aggressive vs conservative. Huh? What are you talking about? What is aggressive/conservative?

The list goes on...

Great design... Only nitpick with the UI is the slider control: it feels scroll-jacky and doesn't offer a manual number input.

Looks really nice and polished, thanks for sharing!

Sorry for asking, but what exactly does the icon of the bag with money in the diagram indicate?

It appears to represent the point at which your net worth would surpass $1MM for a given projection.

I'm curious too -- I didn't notice it until I started trying out different scenarios. Is that an optimum number? Is that when your retirement income per month matches your current income?

How come I can't say how many major expenditures I'm planning? I got to put 2 kids through college and buy a house.

Why does a retirement calculator need that functionality? Its for retirement savings, not savings in general.

Wow, there's a huge difference if you have 10k in savings already vs starting from scratch. Eye opening!

I think `$1.25m - $45k = $880k` should be `$1.25m - $45k = $1.205m`. $45k is $45,000 and not $450,000.

Does this assume that I'll live forever, or that I'll die some day?

Ah, it does not assume that you'll die:

The retirement calculator takes the Total retirement savings and calculates how much monthly income a 4% annuity would generate without drawing from the principal. This indicates the type of lifestyle you can expect without running out of money.

Or, to put it another way: it assumes that you want to be worth roughly the same at death as you were at retirement.

That's fine, but it bears mentioning - since it assumes you want to pass on potentially millions of dollars at the time of your death.

If you aim to break even at death, that changes the calculations.

> If you aim to break even at death, that changes the calculations.

do many people do this? seems unwise given the uncertainty in our lifetimes.

Nice! I am partial to this retirement calculator: https://networthify.com/calculator/earlyretirement

But then I'm biased because I created it.

>If coffee is too hard to give up, try soft drinks. Right. You could get by with saving less because you will also die earlier! :P

This is really nice. Just want to say thanks for the work. This will help myself and a ton of people

That is a beautiful website! Congrats on the launch and good luck with your project!

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