The thoroughness of this planner is unique, incorporating technical and educational features that simply won't be found elsewhere.
• Interview style questions, with explanatory notes, easily guide you through the set up, providing an unparalleled ease of use.
• Clear educational notes on complex topics (e.g. Medicare costs, tax laws, Social Security) help to inform you.
• Flexibility in entering variable income, expenses, investment returns, savings, and one time events allows for individual needs.
• Essential variables that are often ignored by other planning tools, but have a big impact on results, are accounted for (see below).
• A high level of clarity and detail in the results provides transparency into how it all works from start to finish, making it truly "complete".
The following is a list of specific features that set The Complete Retirement Planner apart from all other planning tools:
• If married, there are separate entries by spouse for: annual income, retirement dates, Social Security benefits, retirement savings contributions, cash/investment balances and interest/return rates. A planner without this capability won't be accurate!
• Enter your estimated monthly Social Security benefit at Full Retirement Age (from www.ssa.gov), and the annual income calculates automatically for all years, including annual COLA's, starting with your chosen claiming age. Instantly see the long-term impact on your total retirement results based on different claiming ages!
• If you own a home (or two), annual tax deductions for mortgage interest and property taxes are calculated automatically. You can even specify if either mortgage will be paid off early, or either house sold, automatically adjusting your total expenses and deductions from that year forward. You have the option to use the net proceeds from a home sale to help pay future expenses.
• Federal taxes on ordinary income, taxable distributions, and Social Security (different tax laws) are properly calculated for each year (not just an estimated rate for all years/income types), and include any repeatable tax deductions for mortgage interest, real estate taxes, State income/sales tax, charity, and medical costs. All tax thresholds are updated annually. An effective rate for State income tax may also be entered, completing the picture of total tax liability. This is critical, as taxes can be one of the largest expenses in retirement!
• For those with children, there's a built in college savings calculator that specifies the amount needed to save, per month, per year, per child. It accounts for the costs of different types of institutions, the amount of student loans allowed, estimated financial aid, and invested savings vs. regular savings. This is an awesome tool all by itself!
• Help with estimating health care costs in retirement, with those costs automatically adjusting at a yearly inflation rate unique to health care (projections are from the U.S. Department Of The Actuary). No other planner does this, and it has a huge effect on results.
• The ability to itemize both current and expected retirement expenses, specifying varying time frames for each expense. This determines actual need, by year. For greater accuracy, fixed expenses are not inflation adjusted! This attention to detail is significant.
• Expenses are paid from taxable retirement savings first, then cash and cash investments, and finally from Roth IRA's. This helps to maintain liquidity, allow Roth IRA's more time to grow, and to help reduce Required Minimum Distributions and tax liability in later years.
• In any year that net income is greater than expenses, 25% of the excess is saved, and applied to future expenses. Starting at age 70, in any year that Required Minimum Distributions from retirement savings are greater than actual need, 50% of the excess is saved, and applied to future expenses. These "automatic savings" help to delay distributions from Roth IRA's, allowing that money to keep growing!
• Distributions from retirement savings are specified by spouse, and are based on actual need. All distributions account for tax liability so that each withdrawal covers expenses and the taxes owed on it. Again, this is critical, but it's a point other planners ignore.
• The ability to enter expected (unexpected?) one time events (additions or subtractions) that significantly impact retirement savings.
• Results for each spouse are shown, by year, for: ordinary income, retirement savings contributions, investment return rates, retirement savings distributions, retirement savings balances, Social Security income, and cash/Roth IRA savings used to pay expenses.
• Total combined results (single or married) are shown, by year, for: total income, taxable income, income and cash/Roth IRA available to pay expenses, total expenses, retirement savings distributions, Federal tax deductions, Federal/State tax liability, total retirement savings.
How's that for complete? There's simply no other retirement planning tool like this!