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Ideal Savings Rate Calculator for Retirement Planning or FIRE

Written by:
PK

We have written about your ideal savings rate.  Today, we follow through on what we promised to you - a fully editable ideal savings rate calculator which allows you to put the lessons you learned in our first post into action!

The most important inputs to early retirement are your savings rate, and how much you have saved today. Over a longer career, how hard your money works for you dominates – your investment returns. This calculator lets you play with all the inputs, and see what it would take for you to hit your savings goals.

The Ideal Savings Rate Calculator - When Can YOU Retire?

Disclaimer: This is just an estimate.  For real planning questions please consult a Financial Adviser.  Don't take all your retirement advice from a calculator!

Ideal savings rate calculator illustration with up and to the right graph.
Ensure you're on the right savings path with this savings rate calculator.

How to Use the Ideal Savings Rate Calculator

Inputs

These fields you can change in order to customize the results the calculator will give you.  Makes sense, right?  Having a calculator which actually takes into account your point of view and individual goals, without spending hours in Excel?

Well, we live to please!  (Share this article and site with some friends if you agree with that sentiment!)

  • What is Your Current Income? - In this field, enter how much you currently make.  You can either enter pre- or post-tax income, but note that all other variables will have to hew to the same decision for this calculator to make sense.  (So, for example, if you enter your pre-tax income, your savings goal will also be pre-tax).  It's best to use post-tax.
  • What is Your Savings Rate? - Enter this as a number, omitting the percentage (%) sign:  '1', '20', '50.33476', whatever.
  • How Much Money Do You Have Now? - Your call on what assets you count in here.  This is basically your 'starting point'.  In the accompanying article, I used $0.
  • What Return Do You Expect? - (Advanced) What return do you expect on your savings, before inflation?  One decent starting point is our article on historic S&P 500 returns.  It's useful to check your assumptions.
  • What Inflation Do You Expect A Year? - (Advanced) We don't yet have a tool that helps you guess at future inflation, but you can guess at a safe rate.
  • What Is a Safe Withdrawal Rate? - (Advanced) We used 4% here, although we know it's controversial.  4%, of course, comes form the infamous Trinity Study.  If you agree it is a bit high, go ahead and ratchet it down (and target the higher numbers).

Outputs

The tool will either give you 1 or 3 meaningful outputs.  (If you have a savings rate above 90%, the tool won't run the numbers on other scenarios.)  If you save under that amount?  You're in for a treat - all three of these fields will light up.

  • Main Results - The ideal savings rate calculator both estimates the amount of money you'll need for Retirement or Financial Independence and calculates the number of months it'll take to reach your goals with the current assumptions.  We then, for your convenience, calculate the year and month you'll reach your goal.  If it's far off, be sure to re-visit periodically to check up on that number!
  • Other Scenarios - If you have a savings rate under 90%, we show you what saving an additional 5% or an additional 10% does for your retirement goals.  We then show you how your goal changes (see the original article for more details) and the number of months you need to plug away the the goal decreases.
  • Graphing the Results - If your savings rate fit the criteria, we then show you the above information graphically.  Using the unparalleled power of a picture, you can see, instantly, how changing your behavior can vastly improve your prospects.

Anything Else?

Please let us know if you find any bugs in the ideal savings rate calculator - and no, having a negative number of years to reach your goal isn't a bug!  (Remember, a close to 100% savings rate and a positive return in the market can mean you're technically financially independent today...).

Be sure to share with us how you're using the ideal savings rate calculator.

Are you using it to check your current savings rate?  Is your usage to target an age retirement goal?  Are you playing around with some wishful thinking?

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