100 Best Free Retirement Planning Resources
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Time is a critical ingredient in retirement planning. The more years ahead of retirement you start, the easier it will be to accumulate savings. And the likelihood you will reach your goal for a secure retirement is much higher.
The best time to begin saving for retirement is with your first full-time job. Of course there are many urgent reasons to wait, like student loans, saving to move out, saving for a house, saving for your wedding, or buying a car.
But there is one really good reason to start. In your 20s you will have a tremendous edge you’ll never have again: a full 40+ years to contribute and make your money go to work for you.
Also, with the first dollar you contribute, you’ll earn the peace of mind that you’re proactively preparing for retirement.
If you haven’t started yet it’s hard to explain, but saving for retirement will immediately and forever change the way you look at your finances in many positive and proactive ways.
And because you’re young, you won’t become discouraged by the low balances of the early years.
If you were instead to start in your mid 30s or later, during those first years, when your balances are modest, you might understandably feel that you have no chance of ever getting there.
Which is unfortunate because the more motivated you are, the more likely it is that you’ll stick with your plan for the long term.
Now if you’re past your 20s, and haven’t started yet, don’t despair.
It’s never too late to start saving. Regardless of how close you are to retirement, staring now is always better than not starting at all.
Retirement Planning & Preparedness
Well ahead of retirement, Money Magazine’s retirement site covers a wide range of relevant topics and also offers calculators and other valuable resources.
This Harvard Business Review article is an excellent overview on the shift from defined benefit to defined contribution plans, and the implications for future retirees.
CBS Money Watch provides a 16 week plan, with a different step each week, to develop your retirement plan.
Time Magazine has a great resource for successful retirement planning at any age. A drop down lets you select your 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s or 60s to provide you specific content. Both podcasts and articles are offered.
Inc. magazine provides tips on how to develop a pre-retirement plan for your business.
The Washington Post shares 5 ideas to better prepare future American retirees.
AARP poses 6 questions all future retirees should ask themselves before taking the big step.
This LearnVest article suggests 4 signs that show if a future retiree is in a state of delusion about their retirement prospects.
The Vanguard Retirement Calculator is a straightforward tool that requires 8 key numbers and uses sliders to input the values. It’s great for fast, at-a-glance answers.
The FIRECalc Retirement Calculator is among the more sophisticated for creating various economic scenarios, using real historical data to pressure test your assumptions. You can even test if your plan would have survived the Great Depression!
The Financial Mentor Ultimate Retirement Calculator has some unique features, including the ability to input multiple income streams, and you can print out your results.
Bankrate’s 7 input calculator has easy to adjust sliders to input data, and it generates a graph that shows at what age retirement assets will run out.
Chase’s retirement calculator allows for more inputs than most retirement calculators, making it suitable for more complex situations.
This calculator from ESPlanner offers an important feature many others don’t, which is a separate input for each spouse or partner, as well as their retirement date. This can lead to more precise results if retirement dates are staggered.
Saving for Retirement
Financial Mentor has a series of insightful articles focused on how to save for retirement.
USA Today offers advice on how to save $1,000,000 for retirement.
This Bloomberg Business article is interesting if you want to benchmark your retirement savings progress against national averages.
Washington Post offers advice for those who are 50 and haven’t yet started saving for retirement.
This is an interesting article by MarketWatch on the lies that people tell themselves that impact their retirement savings.
This article from I Will Teach You to Be Rich does an excellent job of explaining how all the basic retirement accounts work and the benefits of each.
Personal Capital shares two interesting charts: the first is what savings potential is by age bracket, the second shows actual account averages by age.
This is the official government website for all things Social Security. Here you can apply for retirement, keep track of your earnings during your working years, estimate your future benefits, and download a handy retirement toolkit that includes a pre-retirement timeline with key ages for eligibility for retirement savings tax advantages.
The U.S. Government offers a guide to help you decide the best time to start your Social Security benefits.
This U.S. Government 20-page guide provides an overview of how the Social Security retirement program works.
Forbes shares 44 important tips that are a must-read for those who are Baby Boomers or who are already collecting Social Security.
AARP has an entire section of their site dedicated to various facets of Social Security.
This Bankrate article shares facts that not everyone is aware of regarding Social Security,
The Ultimate Retirement Guide from CNN Money has 19 top questions and answers many have about Social Security.
The U.S. Government provides a 20-page guide that offers a comprehensive overview of Medicare.
Here’s the U.S. Government’s 52-page guide that covers how to choose a Medicare Supplemental Insurance (also known as Medigap) policy.
Consumer Reports publishes an excellent guide to getting the most out of Medicare.
Here U.S. News & World Reports provides 10 tips for how to maximize your Medicare benefits.
This Wall Street Journal resource is helpful for those considering privately run Medicare options also known as Medicare Advantage.
The blog Can I Retire Yet is written by Darrow Kirkpatrick who retired at 50. He writes insightful articles on a wide range of topics including finances, investing, asset preservation, and even living in a small RV.
These are Money Magazine’s new rules for early retirement and why it’s still possible to retire early.
This is a detailed account from Can I Retire Yet of the steps Darrow Kirkpatrick took to retire at age 50.
CNBC shares the result of a survey that shows the common traits of those who are able to retire early.
This article from Motley Fool includes a chart that shows how annual returns on your portfolio correlate with when you’ll be able to retire.
This Gallup article shares recent research on future retirees’ expected retirement age.
Retirement Places to Live
Forbes’ take on the best places to spend your retirement years.
Bankrate ranks all 50 states, from worst to best, in terms of attractiveness for retirement.
CNN Money has a quiz that will help you identify whether a resort, small town, college town or big city is the best place for you to spend your golden years.
Money Magazine publishes an annual list of best places to retire.
U.S. News and World Report provides several top 10 lists depending on what type of climate, size of town or other characteristics you prefer.
Huffington Post’s best places to live page includes spots both in the U.S. and abroad.
Kiplinger’s research is focused on the cheapest places for retirees to live in the U.S.
This is International Living’s list for the cheapest international places to retire.
Huffington Post offers several articles on the cheapest places to retire overseas.
This is the site for the National Reverse Mortgage Lenders’ Association and the site is a good resource for explaining the mechanics of reverse mortgages.
This is Fannie Mae’s site which provides an overview and offers resources for reverse mortgages.
This article is from Boston College’s Center for Retirement Research, on the latest developments with reverse mortgages. They also offer a free 25-page guide on how they work and the options you have.
This is the National Council on Aging’s Home Equity site which explores ways, including reverse mortgages, that retirees can unlock the equity in their homes.
This is a detailed look of variable annuities from the SEC.
Money provides a thorough but easy-to-digest guide, starting with how annuities work, and then going into deeper detail on each type.
This CNBC article debates the topic of whether annuities are a good or bad idea for retirement.
Forbes summarizes research that suggests the situations in which annuities make sense for retirees.
Wall Street Journal provides a guide for how to select and shop for an annuity.
Money Magazine discusses if it makes sense to roll a 401(k) into an annuity.
This George Mason University study looks at how a partial annuity strategy compares to the commonly presented 4% withdraw rate, and suggests a partial annuity strategy may be preferable for some.
This Towers Watson research found that retirees who annuitize a portion of their retirement assets are happier than those who, with similar asset levels, do not, and that annuity satisfaction boost is highest among retirees with lower income or poor health.
Yahoo! Finance is a true financial portal and a great resource for accessing a wide range of information on stocks. Everything from top level summaries, to key metrics, public filings, basic price charts, price history, and a host of other data are available. It offers something to satisfy a wide range of investing styles. And the message boards can be quite entertaining, provided you treat them as nothing more than entertainment.
If you are a technical investor, Stock Charts offers one of the most robust tool sets available for charting stocks. Their free version provides many indicators, and various membership levels add useful functions and tools. Their charts are frequently used by major financial publishers to show stock activity.
For those who like to select potential stocks by using screening tools, Zacks Stock Screener is among the best free screeners. It provides the option to use over 100 different metrics, and you can enter your own values instead of having to use a drop down that uses ranges.
Morningstar offers an interesting portfolio analysis tool they call Instant X-Ray, which allows you to enter the ticker symbols of your investment so it can evaluate your mix for diversification.
Managing Retirement Income
This is FINRA’s site that’s packed with resources to help manage and optimize all your sources of retirement income.
This article from Fidelity offers smart ways to help make managing your finances easier, more efficient, and less expensive.
Fidelity provides tips on how managing your tax brackets could help boost your retirement income.
CBS Money Watch share tips on how to generate income for your entire lifetime in retirement.
This in Kiplinger’s guide for how to invest in retirement so that your cash will last throughout your retirement.
This CNBC article provides insightful tips on how to make your money last throughout your retirement.
How to Find a Financial Advisor
This CNN Money article provides tips for how to choose a retirement financial advisor.
Wall Street Journal provides a guide on key considerations in finding a suitable financial planner.
Consumer Reports provides an excellent introduction to financial planners, including defining the types and explaining what you can expect.
This LearnVest article covers the 7 biggest mistakes that financial planners often see.
If you’re looking for a planner, the is an excellent resource from Barron’s that lists the top 1200 financial advisors by state.
Working After Retirement
This is the U.S. Government’s guide on how working during retirement (prior to full retirement age, which varies based on when you were born) can affect your Social Security benefits.
This is an excellent resource for workers 50+, with many articles on topics like the best jobs, interview preparation, and job search.
The Small Business Administration has resources specific to those who are considering launching a new business at 50+.
Here’s CNBC’s article on the Dos and Don’ts of working after retirement.
Bankrate has an excellent article on the 6 Reasons to Work After Retirement.
Pew Research’s 9-page study on the gap between expectations and reality when considering working after retirement. This is a must read if you expect to work after the official retirement age. It shows the tremendous gap between expectations and reality.
This Harvard Business Review article provides an excellent overview of the options for your ‘encore’ career.
Road Scholar educational adventures are created by Elderhostel, the not-for-profit world leader in lifelong learning since 1975.
This Bankrate article shares 5 tips for keeping costs down for travel after retirement.
Can I Retire Yet shares an approach for inexpensive retirement travel in a small RV.
This Forbes article share tips on how to save money during retirement travel.
Aging In Place
The NAIPC site is an excellent resource on topics related to successfully aging in place.
This insightful Forbes article explores the idea of whether aging in place is realistic.
This article from Kiplinger’s provides 6 important considerations regarding retrofitting your house.
The Free Annual Credit Report is the site for the free annual credit reports from TransUnion, Equifax and Experian that you’re entitled to by federal law. You can pull all three at once, or you can request a different one every four months in order to stretch your benefit across 12 months.
The site Credit Karma provides free credit scores and monitoring of your TransUnion report, as well as alerts to any changes. There may be offers and upsells to premium services, but the base service is free.
Quizzle offers a free Equifax credit report every three months, and a free VantageScore credit score at the start. Premium plans are also offered, but the basic service is free, and no credit card is required.
Happiness in Retirement and Other Interesting Topics
Money Magazine shares their Top 5 Secrets to a happy retirement.
This Huffington Post article reveals, based on a recent study, the number one key to a happy retirement, and it’s not financial.
Inc. details the 10 traits of retirees who are very happy. Included are specific financial targets as well as financial traits.
Next Avenue, run by Twin Cities Public Television features the tag line “Where Grown Ups Keep Growing.” The site has an excellent cross section of articles and resources on health, money, work, and caregiving.
For those interested in the recent history of retirement planning, and the challenges future retirees face, PBS Frontline’s 52 minute segment may be interesting.
This Bloomberg article shares the importance of physical fitness as a retirement preparation strategy.
How to Recover if You’re Behind on Financially Preparing for Retirement
This AARP article focuses on 5 individuals, near retirement age, who have common financial issues in having not been prepared for retirement, and then offers suggested recovery actions.
Financial Mentor shares 27 strategies for catching up on your retirement savings if you’re behind.
This Forbes article presents tips for how to prepare for retirement if you’re in your 50s and haven’t started yet.
LearnVest shares a specific account of a 48 year-old who hadn’t started saving but was able to rescue their retirement.
This article from Esquire poses the one question that could change your life forever. Applicable before and after retirement.