Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

The Perils of Retirement Calculators

By Dan Caplinger - Apr 10, 2013 at 10:00AM

You’re reading a free article with opinions that may differ from The Motley Fool’s Premium Investing Services. Become a Motley Fool member today to get instant access to our top analyst recommendations, in-depth research, investing resources, and more. Learn More

Be very careful of the assumptions that calculators make in spitting out an answer for your retirement.

Planning for retirement is one of the hardest money issues people face, as the uncertainties of dealing with a goal that's years or even decades away are hard to navigate. In this edition of our Motley Fool Conversations series, Fool personal finance expert Dayana Yochim and retirement-planning analyst Dan Caplinger discuss retirement calculators and the ways that many people use them to try to find some answers to their questions of how much to save and how to invest.

Dayana notes how retirement calculators allow you to run any number of scenarios to help you plan your retirement. But as Dan points out, the to-the-penny answers that retirement calculators produce don't accurately reflect the bumpiness of real-life investing results, which inevitably include bumps and dips along the way.

The key to using retirement calculators well is to maintain the flexibility to deal with changing circumstances. Dan and Dayana bring up a number of areas where staying flexible can help, including how much money you spend from year to year, when you plan to retire, and how you invest. Taking advantage of opportunities to phase into retirement through part-time arrangements can give you extra income to help you bridge the gap to get more financial security.

Finally, Dayana and Dan discuss various investing ideas. Although many retirees have traditionally turned to bonds, stocks of companies that enjoy stable customer demand and pay healthy dividends are a good choice. Yet to provide long-term growth for retirees who expect to live 20 to 30 years beyond their retirement date, growth stocks can be appropriate even if they don't pay dividends. Dan names some stocks in both categories and concludes that the right balance will let you keep your bases covered.

Invest Smarter with The Motley Fool

Join Over 1 Million Premium Members Receiving…

  • New Stock Picks Each Month
  • Detailed Analysis of Companies
  • Model Portfolios
  • Live Streaming During Market Hours
  • And Much More
Get Started Now

Stocks Mentioned, Inc. Stock Quote, Inc.
$2,302.93 (3.66%) $81.38
The Clorox Company Stock Quote
The Clorox Company
$148.71 (1.58%) $2.31
Kimberly-Clark Corporation Stock Quote
Kimberly-Clark Corporation
$133.43 (0.77%) $1.02

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

Related Articles

Motley Fool Returns

Motley Fool Stock Advisor

Market-beating stocks from our award-winning service.

Stock Advisor Returns
S&P 500 Returns

Calculated by average return of all stock recommendations since inception of the Stock Advisor service in February of 2002. Returns as of 05/28/2022.

Discounted offers are only available to new members. Stock Advisor list price is $199 per year.

Premium Investing Services

Invest better with The Motley Fool. Get stock recommendations, portfolio guidance, and more from The Motley Fool's premium services.