I've commented on the serious lack of reliable retirement planning tools many times, so I was thrilled when my point was validated by a Professor of Finance (Emeritas) at Wharton in a Huffington Post article ("Planning For Retirement: The Missing Piece"). He wrote, "There is one important factor that discourages retirement planning that is remediable: that is the lack of effective retirement planning tools...". Great to see this problem finally acknowledged in the media!
Oops, not so fast. Unfortunately, he then went on to offer a retirement calculator that he helped to create, that was completely lacking in features and considerations that would lead to an accurate result! Wow! Shocking. This type of behavior from a person with such highly regarded credentials is beyond disappointing, and only accentuates the issue of a lack of effective retirement planning tools - the very point he had just made!
Trying to plan for retirement can be a frustrating experience, but it is an essential exercise in building a solid financial foundation. Finding the right tool(s) to help you wade through all of the essential considerations may be the most important step in the process. All of your financial information consists of facts, but how those facts are used to come up with the answers you need is what really counts. Make sure to do your due diligence, consider all of the variables that a planning tool needs to account for, and don't stop until you find one that does the job for you. In fairness, there are 3-4 others beside The Complete Retirement Planner that I've found (it wasn't easy), that seem to do a pretty good job. They all cost $100 - $300 (compared to $49.99 for TCRP), and each offers something that another doesn't, or uses different methods. Whichever planner you feel most comfortable with, just bite the bullet and buy it. Once you see what it can do for you, that one time cost will fade from your memory quickly. Your future self will thank you.
On the same subject, I wrote to the editor of InvestorPlace about articles on their site that offered plenty of regurgitated retirement advice, but never mentioned how to put it to use without any planning tools. He asked me to explain what a good retirement planner should be able to do, and what, "was good out there", in terms of tools. I gave him the same information that I have written about in this blog, and he actually agreed that he felt that all of the free calculators were over simplified. That's a start, I guess, but I didn't get the impression that any article on the subject was forthcoming. No one is willing to stand up to the status quo, and admit that the public is only given useless advertising click-bait masquerading as true retirement planning tools.
I even offered a challenge to the publishers of free retirement calculators, if he would print it - I will offer The Complete Retirement Planner for free, if all of the free calculators on financial sites go away! I'll even do it if those same calculators are replaced with tools that actually work. Fat chance of that happening, but I gave it a shot!
Have an opinion on this subject? Please feel free to add a comment, and let's get this conversation started!