tophermiller.com

Retirement Forecaster

Even though I love my career and I enjoy working, I still obsess about retirement. For me, retirement is the ultimate freedom of choice. There's a strong chance that I might continue "working" in retirement...maybe consulting...maybe writing and selling my own apps, who knows? But I want to have the choice to not work on any given day, week, or month. I want to wake up every day and make a totally free decision about what to do with the day. What a dream that would be!

To that end, I spend a fair amount of time trying to figure out when I can retire. There's lots of tools out there for this, like this one from CNN or this one from Schwab, but none of them were transparent enough for me, and none of them accommodated all the variables I had in mind.

For example, since I want to retire early, I am interested in the wildly inflating cost of self-pay health insurance I'll have to buy before Medicare kicks in. It turns out that makes a BIG difference!

I also had a very specific user interface in mind. I wanted to input all the variables I care about, and see a simple chart that plots my net worth over time, from the first data point all the way until go broke or die. Too bad we don't know when we will die, but if I can get that "go broke" age higher than a normal life expectancy, then I know the plan is solid (unless of course I have benficiaries to worry about!).

The techie side of me wanted to hone my JavaScript and JQuery skills (I'm more of a Java back-end guy), so I decided to write a fully functional JavaScript application. Once you load the page, there is almost no communication with the server. The only exceptions are the feedback form and some logging I do for user research purposes.

What follows is some excerpts from the tool's documentation. But really, you should just give it a try, and send me some feedback!

Forecast your retirement now!


How It Works

With this tool, you enter a set of financial milestones in your life (past, present, or future), and see their effect on your net worth over time, until you go broke or turn 100, whichever comes first.

You can get a simple picture with just one milestone, in which you enter your current net worth, savings, and prediction for cost of living during retirement (in today's dollars). For a more detailed picture that accounts for life changes over the years, enter many milestones.

With each milestone, enter only the data that is changed at that date. All other data carries over from the previous month, with adjustments made for inflation, etc.

After you add your milestones, click "Draw Chart" or "Draw Table" to see the results.

Please note: Retirement planning is a complex puzzle, and there are many variables that affect it. This program accounts for many of the most impactful ones, but keep in mind that since the future is uncertain, there are no guarantees. One of the most unpredictable and yet most impactful variables in this model is the rate of return on your net worth (try it and see!). So, be sure to be conservative with this number!

How It Works - Calculations


Tech Info

Building this tool was an exercise in JavaScript programming. This sort of retirement analysis could easily be done in a spreadsheet program, but what fun would that be? My goal was to beef up my JavaScript skills, while building something useful for the web.

Many thanks the following libraries and example code pages I use while building this tool:

Privacy

We respect your privacy. This tool will never require you to enter personally identifiable information such as your name, email, etc. (except, optionally, on the feedback form).

Also, this tool runs entirely in the browser and your data is not recorded in our servers. That's why, when you save it, you have to save it locally on your computer. However, for user research purposes only, your data is logged on the server when you click "Draw Chart" or "Draw Table".




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