SmartMoney Blogs

A blog about living in and planning for retirement

Best New Retirement-Planning Tools


Three new financial tools, all released in the past few months, can help you with filing for Social Security, tapping your nest egg and finding a financial adviser. has long been a valuable website for people looking for help with retirement finances. Started and run by Henry “Bud” Hebeler, a former top executive at Boeing Co. and author of “Getting Started in a Financially Secure Retirement,” the site has introduced a free calculator called “Social Security Planner.” The tool shows you how various “claiming strategies” – including the ages at which you and your spouse begin collecting benefits from Uncle Sam – can affect the long-term health of your nest egg. (As Hebeler notes, “You do not want to run out of money before you run out of life.”)

The “look” of the tool takes some getting used to; the text is tightly packaged. But if you give it some time, this calculator does a very nice job of simplifying what is normally some terribly complicated math.

Next up: Fidelity Investments’ “Income Strategy Evaluator.” This free tool, which is designed primarily for people nearing or living in retirement, shows users how different investment strategies and portfolios – stocks, cash, annuities and bond ladders, among others – can generate a paycheck in later life. You also can see how inflation, taxes and medical costs could affect your savings.

One caveat: You don’t have to be Fidelity customer to use the tool, but you need to sign in as a “Fidelity member.” (As such, you’ll need to provide a name and email address.) Visit this site to do so.

Finally, check out BrightScope Inc.’s new “Advisor Pages,” a nationwide directory of financial counselors. The company, based in San Diego, is best known for its evaluations of employers’ retirement offerings – more than 55,000 401(k) plans covering some 30 million workers. The new service takes much the same approach – mining hard-to-access public records – to help investors search for financial help in their backyards.

Among the data available: advisors’ qualifications, the assets they have under management, areas of specialty and legal disputes.


We welcome thoughtful comments from readers. Please comply with our guidelines. Our blogs do not require the use of your real name.

Comments (5 of 12)

View all Comments »
    • HealthView Services has a unique tool that defines what retirees can expect to pay for out-of-pocket health care costs. Nobody plans for this and a healthy male that retires at 65 and lives to 90 can expect to pay over $400,000 throughout his retirement.

      Plan for health care before its too late or educate yourself further!

    • Let’s not forget that SmartMoney has created a few new tools as well. In particular, a retirement planner: Navigation: Tools > Featured Tools > Retirement Planner.

    • Several posters seem concerned about providing name and email address to use these various tools. I might decide against such things too, but I’m sure not going to be upset about it. Why do we think all of these tools should be provided for free, and not expect to give them SOMETHING in return? Yes, if you provide your email address, chances are they are going to market to you in some way. Seems only fair, and if you don’t like it, don’t sign up, but don’t be mad either!

    • Excellant article for all future retirees. Suggest if the desire is to do-it-yourself for reitrement planning/Investment management visit website for a guidebook with a free computer program to develop lifetime living and activity requirements and during retirement will tell you based on Portfolio value and growth rate how long will it last and also includes free consultation after receiving the guidebook

    • “You will not send any bulk unsolicited advertising, promotional information, commercial email or other solicitation (including without limitation junk mail, “spam,” chain letters or pyramid schemes of any sort) to any person through comments.”

About Encore

  • Encore examines the changing nature of retirement, from new rules and guidelines for financial security to the shifting identities and priorities of today’s retirees. The blog also explores news that affects retirement, from the Wall Street Journal Digital Network and around the web. Lead bloggers are reporter Catey Hill and senior editor Jeremy Olshan. Other contributors include The Wall Street Journal’s retirement columnists Glenn Ruffenach and Anne Tergesen; the Director for the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, Alicia Munnell; and the Director of Research for Pinnacle Advisory Group, Michael Kitces, CFP.