Travis Russell

Travis Russell, CFP®

Travis employs many of the disciplines of success that he learned as a Division 1 hockey player – namely, persistence, practice, and a having passion for what you do – to his role as Principal and Client Advisor.

A good personal finance calculator should be simple to use and understand, but still provide valuable information to the user.  These types of calculators are challenging to find: Google searches tend to return a sizable list of tools, but many are attached to a sales pitch or annoying ads.

Below is a small list of calculators for personal finance, investment and retirement planning that I’ve found to be simple and useful, while still providing important information to their users.

Updated: Best Calculator for 2018 Tax Planning

  • You have to look past the name, but so far this is the best financial calculator that has been updated for the changes in tax code. Not only is it incredibly detailed, and the analysis includes almost every input used in filing your tax return, but it also offers a summary of definitions to help you navigate the options.

Best Site for Financial Planning Calculators

  • This is a great site that has something for everyone.  It dives into investments, retirement projections, and even debt management. Designed by former fund manager Todd Tresidder, the site also includes online courses and e-books for those individuals looking to spend time increasing their financial planning knowledge.  See a full list of their calculators here.

Best Calculator for Retirement Planning

  • Vanguard Retirement Planner: Vanguard is known for their low cost, passive investment options that can be attractive options for many investors. With their calculator, they provide an easy to understand illustration that is adjusted with simple slides for things such as income, savings, assets. The calculator can even include social security and a pension for those looking to review their entire picture.
  • For those looking for a more advanced tool, this is the calculator for you. This calculator, which can be downloaded to your computer or used with Java, takes many different planning assumptions into accounts. The program looks at both taxable and retirement accounts, annual savings, and investment risk and return. These numerous variables can improve the accuracy of the results, but it’s important that the user understand the inputs being used. Misinterpretation of the results can lead to decisions with a negative impact on retirement.

Best Calculator for Tax Planning

  • TurboTax TaxCaster: Even if you don’t use TurboTax for your own taxes, the TurboTax TaxCaster calculator is a simple way to estimate your tax due each year. Easily adjustable inputs allow users to see how increasing deductions reduce your taxes, whether or not your current W2 tax withholding is correct, and the benefits of retirement savings. An easy to understand sliding scale (red is tax due, green is refund) adjusts with each new input. Check to see if Uncle Sam might be sending you money in April!
  • This site is not for the faint of heart. This is for the real tax junkie that wants a more advanced tax estimate. Almost every input used in filing your tax return can be included in this analysis. This site also provides a summary of definitions to help you navigate the tools.

Best Calculator for College Savings

  • : The calculator estimates the amount needed to cover public or private tuition costs. Calculations can be based on 2 or 4 year degrees and are based on average tuition rates or specific schools. This is a helpful calculator for every parent to review every few years to make sure their college savings are on track.

Best Calculator for Life Insurance

  • Life insurance can be a complicated and stressful decision, and it’s even worse when you’re being sold something you don’t think is needed. Take the time to use this great website (and their app) to review your current insurance needs. It takes into account your age, income, current savings, and current insurance policies. Do you want to know the best part about this site? It’s not attached to an insurance agency trying to sell you a policy! Take the information and make an educated decision if you and your family are in the need of additional insurance.

It can be difficult to find quality information in today’s data overload. Hopefully these best financial calculators will provide simple, easy to understand information to help guide you in your financial decisions.

To learn more about how to plan your income in retirement, click here.

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