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Personal Capital Retirement Calculator: Great for Early Retirement Planning

Using Personal Capital's retirement planner

In the past, my opinion of retirement calculators has been less than enthusiastic. For the most part, they assume that people will work until age 65 or longer, have one job, need at least 80% of their current income in retirement, and that no one will have income after retirement other than social security or a possible pension. Aside from Jim’s possible pension, none of that applies to us, so I’ve always been disappointed when the results show that we will need something like eight billion dollars to retire comfortably. That isn’t real world at all.

My opinion has changed recently with the new Personal Capital Retirement Calculator. Finally, a plan that gives options for those of us who live a bit outside the traditional norms!

Real World Assumptions

A calculator can’t be perfect because there is no way to predict all expenses. We might be hit with big home repair or medical bill at any time, but what is nice about the Personal Capital calculator is that it pulls from current spending trends. Even if you do make eight billion dollars a year but only spend $50,000, the calculator is able to process that.

Other nice things about Personal Capital’s retirement calculator is that you are able to add in projected expenses like paying for a child’s education or a big home remodel. You can also estimate health care spending, travel expenses, and just about any other big purchase that might be coming down the pike. I know we will likely need a new to us vehicle every 10 years or so, and we will have to redo our kitchen at some point before selling our house. It’s easy to put those projected expenses into your plan to see how that affects the ability to retire.

A Way To Include Passive Income!

There is also a place to put in expected windfalls like an inheritance or sale of a property. Perhaps my favorite thing is the special category for rental income and expected income earned in retirement. Unlike most calculators, Personal Capital assumes that we might want to continue earning money or have passive streams in retirement. Why did it take so long for retirement calculator gurus to figure that out?

Is Personal Capital Too Pushy?

Once your plan is ready to view, Personal Capital offers a link to click for advice on how to improve retirement planning, usually by controlling fees and making the most income from your investments. For some, this is helpful and for others it might be overkill. I am always open for new options, so it’s nice to have suggestions. I wouldn’t do something because Personal Capital told me to, but in my experience, they do offer solid advice for keeping more of your nest egg.

Obviously, there are some cons. Income growth projection is based on the Monte Carlo simulation method. I’d be lying if I said I had 100% understanding of that type of analysis, but some financial experts think it is too focused on user input and past trends.

Also, if you live in a rural area and use a small bank, Personal Capital might not recognize it. All information will have to be manually entered, which takes lots of the fun out of the whole automated concept.

The other semi-annoying thing about Personal Capital in general is that an advisor will call once your assets are over $25,000, and they can be a bit pushy. You can always decline the calls, but do expect one if you have net worth over that amount.

How Is Retirement Planning Going?

Personal Capital retirement projections

I was very excited to see that we have an excellent chance of not running out of money in retirement. In fact, if we retire at age 51 and 55, assume our properties are paid off, and if we still make at least $1,000 a month in some sort of income in addition to rental money, we shouldn’t have to touch our savings, ever.

Our rental property income should cover all of our expenses for the foreseeable future. I kind of knew that, but it’s very gratifying to see it all in print. We will still keep saving in our retirement accounts, if for no other reason than to save a truckload of money in taxes. You never know if our rental income empire might fail, so it’s nice to have a backup.

If nothing else, Personal Capital confirms that we are on the right track. They did recommend that we put some of our cash saving into investments. Our savings account interest is paltry.  I do think that is probably a good idea for someone who doesn’t have rentals or variable income, but I feel better knowing our emergency fund is well stocked for whatever might come our way.

Are You on the Right Track For Retirement?

If your are curious about how your journey to retirement is coming along or if you aren’t sure you’ll be able to retire at all, check out the new retirement calculator. If you don’t have an account, you can sign up for free here. If you already use Personal Capital, you can try the retirement calculator here. It’s better to know where you stand today instead of waiting until the last minute to find you didn’t save enough when you had the chance.

Do you actively plan for retirement or think you’ll just wing in when the time comes? Do you love or loathe retirement calculators?

Disclosure: If you use my link to sign up for Personal Capital,  I may get a commission, depending on your net worth. Even without a commission, I still highly recommend the money tracking tools and retirement calculator Personal Capital offers.


About Kim Parr

Kim Parr is a private practice optometrist, freelance writer, and personal financial blogger. You can follow her journey to 20/20 financial vision at Eyes on the Dollar.


  1. I like retirement calculators but agree they don’t always apply to my situation. There is rarely a place to input ongoing passive income, and most retirement calculators assume I will need something like 80% of my income in retirement, which would be ridiculous.

    • I agree. Aside from health care, I expect our expenses to be less in retirement, and we don’t use 80% now.

  2. I think retirement calculators can be a great guide to help direct you but far too many I’ve seen lack in one area or another. That being said, I’ve not looked much at the PC option yet though glad to hear it has some more non-traditional options in it. I’d agree that they’re a little pushy – they emailed/called numerous times, but once I was able to talk with them they were gracious when I told them I wasn’t interested.

    • Yes, I stopped answering calls from the Bay area! They have stopped calling since I listened to the presentation and declined their management. I’m too anal at this point to let someone else manage my money.

  3. I have to admit I’ve been turned off by personal capitol since once I signed up they started hounding me by phone to sign up with more services with them. But in any case, I do use calculators but it’s a bit depressing for me, or at least it has been because my retirement savings have taken a hit as a freelancer. It’s still not something I’m ignoring though. Thankfully I did well with retirement savings when I worked full time so there is at least something there! 🙂

    • I actually listened to their presentation, and they don’t bother me now except for an email every once in a while. I guess it’s good if they are calling because it means you have something in the bank!

    • I actually listened to their presentation, and they don’t bother me now except for an email every once in a while. I guess it’s good if they are calling because it means you have something in the bank!

    • I actually listened to their presentation, and they don’t bother me now except for an email every once in a while. I guess it’s good if they are calling because it means you have something in the bank!

  4. Great job Kim. I logged into that calculator too, and it has some great features. I think it is a bit optimistic, so I always use several. I like Fidelity Retirement Income Planner the best.

    • I really think rent is a wonderful source of retirement income. I’m so glad that we’ve started down that path. Thanks for inspiring me with your rental reports.

  5. Ahh, I really need to try this. Most retirement calculators don’t accommodate my nomadic income lifestyle 🙂

    • I’m not sure this one would either, but it probably offers the most options for those with variable income.

  6. I love using financial calculators, even if they don’t always seem correct. I use Personal Capital but haven’t check this out yet – I’ll have to do that soon!

  7. Retirement calculators are great at giving people a baseline but I also caution that they are not 100% accurate either, as you noted as well. They are great for generalizations and can motivate people to start saving more, but every individual is unique, so don’t overly rely on them. It actually makes me a bit grumpy when “money experts” tout a definitive retirement number for everyone because no such thing exists.

    • You really can’t predict all the variables, but I do hate when calculators assume I’ll need to spend 80% of my current income in retirement. I don’t use 80% of it now!

  8. We’ve used several retirement calculators over the years and love how they project where we will be. Even though they are not entirely accurate they still help with the motivation needed to get where you want to go.

    • I like this one because I can decided how much of my current income I will need in retirement. Most of them assume you’ll need 80%, and I just don’t see it, especially once our house is paid off.

  9. I like all the extra features it offers. Will have to try it out this week!

    • You can really put in any sort of simulation depending on when you want to retire, expected expenses, and how much you’re able to save.

  10. I set up my personal Capital account but haven’t gotten around to linking all my accounts to it yet. It’s on the “to do” list but there simply have been higher priorities these days.

  11. I am personally not a big fan of retirement calculators because I think that no matter how good they are at simulating results, there are still factors that can influence your results that are difficult to account for in a model. Rather than give specific results to my clients, I encourage them to adjust their lifestyles, save and plan as much as possible and then they won’t have to worry as much about the accuracy of the calculators.

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