5 Useful Retirement Calculators – How Much Do You Need to Retire?

How Much Do You Need To Retire

How Much Do You Need To Retire


Courtesy of the Million Dollar Journey
June 2, 2019

As a big fan of the Million Dollar Journey (MDJ), I enjoyed this detailed post on Canadian specific retirement calculators. Ideal for RRSP time, and great to reference any time during the year. Enjoy! Cheers Don

This popular article was originally written in 2017, but since then, a couple of the calculators have gone offline.  I have updated this article with a couple of new additions.  Enjoy!

A reader recently asked me if she had saved enough for retirement.  While it seems like a challenging question to answer, it can be roughly calculated via online calculators providing that you have fairly accurate inputs.

Generally, here’s what you’ll need for any online retirement calculator:

Expenses

Some online calculators will take your expected retirement expenses as a percentage of your gross income.  Many financial institutions will tell you that you need at least 80% of your income to live a comfortable retirement.

However, if you run your actual expenses, you’ll likely discover that you need much less than 80% of your pre-retirement income.  From my research, 50-60% of your pre-retirement income is reasonable – but only if you are retiring with no debt which I think every retiree should be going for.  When I ran the numbers for our family, 55% of our pre-retirement income was enough to maintain our lifestyle during retirement.

Canada Pension Plan (CPP) and Old Age Security (OAS)

Most people have no idea what they should receive for both CPP and OAS (me included!).  To get an accurate amount, you can obtain your CPP statement online.   Otherwise, there are calculators that can estimate your CPP based on your career income.  The first calculator below is offered by the federal government and will help provide an estimate of both CPP and OAS.

Total of your Assets

If you regularly track your net worth, then you’ll have the totals of all of your assets.  Most importantly, the total of your RRSP, TFSA, and non-registered accounts.  You’ll need this info for pretty much any retirement income calculator.

5 Useful Retirement Income Calculators

In my search for a retirement income calculator, I had a hard time finding the perfect calculator..  at least perfect for me.  Each had their merits but also some serious drawbacks.

1. Mawer Retirement Calculator (Link)

I came across this free calculator when looking for replacements for both ES planner and Retirement Advisor (both no longer work).  Mawer is known for its reasonably priced mutual funds and is very popular among investors.

I must say that I was impressed with this calculator due to its ease of use, and the ability to add a spouse right away.  It also allowed me to enter a retirement age before age 50 which was an added bonus. Personally, I like seeing numbers by year to see where the money is coming from.  Mawer does a good job at summarizing the results, but a little more detail would be appreciated!

This is among my favorites of the batch!

Highlights

  • Separate accounts for you and spouse/partner
  • Allows you to estimate your own CPP/OAS rather than make assumptions
  • Calculates net worth at death
  • Income tables by year
  • Allows you to modify income requirements on the fly and even show you the maximum you can withdraw and die with $0 in accounts (assuming you live until 89)
  • Allows you to add whatever additional income sources that you wish, such as business income.

Drawbacks

  • Cannot add home as an asset
  • More details would be appreciated for the income table by year.  Such as how each income source would be drawn down over time.

2. Canadian Government Retirement Calculator (link)

In my search, this was the first retirement calculator that I came across and was actually surprised that it was created by the federal government.  This calculator is pretty thorough with government benefits but lacks in some areas such as adding a spouse, non-registered assets and general taxation.  The biggest weakness is for the extreme early retirement crowd, the earliest age for retirement in this calculator is age 50.

Highlights

  • Calculates OAS and CPP – with the ability to customize.  Also provides average monthly amounts for Canadians (which can be helpful) and adjusts based on how early you start taking CPP
  • I like how it graphically shows income by age and impact of CPP and OAS on retirement

Drawbacks

  • Neglects non-registered accounts, needs to account for taxation in retirement
  • No ability to add spousal assets (I just used total family RRSP, TFSA etc)
  • Earliest retirement age is 50
  • Doesn’t show ending balance of accounts at death

3. BMO Retirement Calculator (Link)

This calculator is what you can expect from a big bank.  Very skimpy on details, but very pretty to look at.  However, out of the big bank calculators that I used, I liked the BMO product the best.  It was very easy to use and allowed me to input spousal financial information.

What was also refreshing was that I was able to enter any retirement age – unlike the calculators above – and my own number for my expenses.  The downside is as mentioned above, very little detail in the final report and no ability to customize CPP/OAS.  As a side note, CPP will likely be much lower for an extremely early retiree due to a high number of low contribution years before the age of 60.

Highlights

  • Asks straight up how much I need for retirement
  • Includes spousal assets
  • Allows for early retirement projections
  • Intuitive graph and allows for revisions to inputs to model different scenarios
  • Calculates net worth at death

Drawbacks

  • Needs table that shows income by year – lacks detail
  • Cannot customize CPP/OAS

4. Sheffar Potter Muchan/Dinkytown Retirement Calculator (Link)

This is a fairly bare-bones calculator that lets you enter everything on one screen (which I like).  It accounts for early retirement, and you can enter your own values for the rate of return before/after retirement.  I also appreciated the detailed table that breaks down income sources during retirement.  The biggest downside that I could see is that you cannot add spousal assets.

Highlights

  • Very straight forward, enter everything on one screen.
  • Allows for early retirement projections
  • Intuitive graph and detailed tables that shows income sources during retirement
  • Calculates net worth at death

Drawbacks

  • Does not include spousal assets
  • Cannot add home as an asset
  • Does not allow for business income during retirement
  • Cannot customize age to start benefit of a company pension plan (assumes retirement age)

5. DIY Rough Back of a Napkin Calculator

In the archives, I wrote about how to quickly calculate what you need for retirement:

  1. Work out a budget of expected expenses during retirement.  Don’t forget to include income taxes, albeit reduced, as an expense.  Here is an example budget.
  2. Calculate how much the Government will provide you during your retirement years.  You can use the Canadian government calculator here.
  3. The difference between 1 and 2 is how much income from savings (and/or company pension) that you will need.
  4. Take the number calculated in step 3, and multiply by 25.  That is the amount you will need to have saved (in todays dollars).  If you have other sources of income, like from company pensions or rental properties, then reduce step 3 by the other income amounts, then multiply by 25.

This quick calculation is really for traditional retirement age (60+) where government programs can really pay for a significant portion of your retirement needs.  Once you calculate your “number”, you can figure out how much you need to save today with the following table:

Monthly Savings Required to Reach Your Number (Assuming 4% real-return growth rate)

Required Savings Monthly Savings (retire in 25 yrs) Monthly Savings (30 years) Monthly Savings (35 yrs) Monthly Savings (40 yrs)
$200,000 $389 $288 $219 $169
$300,000 $583 $432 $328 $254
$400,000 $778 $577 $438 $339
$500,000 $973 $721 $578 $423
$600,000 $1167 $865 $657 $508
$700,000 $1362 $1009 $766 $593
$800,000 $1556 $1153 $876 $677
$900,000 $1751 $1297 $985 $762
$1,000,000 $1945 $1441 $1095 $846

This is obviously a very quick and rough calculation.  If you want the down and dirty details, you can read them in my article “how much do you need to save today to retire later” and discover that you may not need as much as you think.

The Perfect Calculator?

I’m sure that financial planners have access to powerful modeling tools for a variety of situations.  However, I’ve yet to come by a calculator that handles everything that I need.  My idea of a perfect retirement income calculator would have the ability to:

  • Include partner/spouse assets in the calculation;
  • Include contributions to RRSP, TFSA and non-registered accounts for both spouses;
  • Have a field for anticipated monthly expenses during retirement;
  • Include expected business/rental income during retirement;
  • Income home as an asset;
  • Choose your own retirement age;
  • Include a field for estimated CPP/OAS during retirement and when you want to start taking it (for extremely early retirees, CPP will be lower due to a higher number of low-income years);
  • The ability to manipulate to choose which account to draw down first (here are some of my retirement account drawdown strategies);
  • Account for taxation of different accounts and ability to set the tax rate for each account.  When you start drawing down from your RRSP for example, it will be taxable at your marginal rate.  When you draw from a TFSA, withdrawals are tax-free.  However, when you draw from a non-registered account, it’s tax-free when you withdraw, but you may have to sell to generate the cash to withdraw.
  • A detailed table (by year) showing the drawdown from each income source, the balance remaining in each account, and final net worth at death.