Frequently Asked Questions

Pre-purchase questions

You may install ESPlanner on any of the computers that you own. You will need to login to this website from the second computer and download the install kit to install it on your second computer.
If you are a financial professional and use ESPlanner with your clients, we ask you to purchase ESPlannerPRO for each of the planners in your company.

ESPlanner does not run natively on a Macintosh. You can still run it, but you have to run Windows using a PC emulator, install ESPlanner on the emulated PC, then run ESPlanner inside your "PC". Depending upon the version of Mac operating system you own, we have tested ESPlanner using these different emulators:

Do I need a copy of Windows to run VMware Fusion?
VMware Fusion requires the installation of an operating system in order to function. The operating system is not included with the purchase of VMware Fusion. You can either migrate an existing copy of Windows from your old PC or install a new one. In order to run a Windows virtual machine, you must have a licensed copy of that Windows operating system or purchase a new Windows license.

These work well although we recommend Duo Core (or better) for best performance. We have not tested on older Mac (non-Intel) hardware. But, if you can run one of these emulators, it should work fine.

Intel CPU Mac owners have an additional option, installing BootCamp and booting your Macintosh as a Windows machine. At least one ESPlanner customer has used BootCamp and reported success installing and using ESPlanner, so we believe that BootCamp will work.

On Linux systems we have tested VMWare's Workstation, installing Windows and ESPlanner successfully. We have not tested any other Linux based PC emulator but anything that allows you to boot Windows should work.

Economic Security Planning does not offer support for the installation of your emulator of choice nor do we offer support for installing Windows on the emulator but once you get to the point of installing and running ESPlanner on your emulator (or your dual booted Mac) we do provide support.

WARNING
BE CAREFUL OF THE OUTPUT DIRECTORY WHEN USING EMULATION
Saving files on shared drives with the Mac doesn't work when using the PDF report writer. Save report files and place your database on the emulated file system. You can set the report output directory in Help->Customize.

Check the output directory when using emulation. Help->Customize
BAD:
\\.psf\Home\Documents\My ESPlanner
GOOD:
c:\Documents\My ESPlanner

The above is an example. Your directory may be different, depending on your version of Windows

Yes, ESPlanner can help retirees make all kinds of decisions. ESPlanner shows you your highest sustainable living standard. Thus, you can compare the living standard or see the consequences of many decisions such as:

  • Get suggestions concerning how much you can spend each year, on a discretionary basis, while maintaining your living standard per household member notwithstanding changes over time in income, taxes, Medicare Part B premiums, and "off-the-top" housing and other expenses.
  • Determining how helping with a child or grandchild's education or other needs will impact your living standard.
  • Determining how much downsizing your home will affect your living standard.
  • Deciding whether long-term care insurance makes sense by comparing your living standard if you purchase this insurance with your living standard if you self insure, but experience a major long-term care expenditure.
  • Determining the living-standard advantage of postponing Social Security
  • Decide if you still need life insurance.
  • Determine if paying off your mortgage makes sense in terms of raising your projected living standard.
  • Understand how different investment and spending strategies will affect the level and variability of your living standard.
  • Explore how different ages of initiating retirement account withdrawals affect your living standard
  • See if changing the order of withdrawal (ROTH vs Reg IRA) can boost your living standard.
  • Determine the impact of moving to a different state.
  • See if a reverse mortgage can raise your living standard.
  • Determine the living-standard impact of selling a business or real estate holding.
  • Determine if annuitizing all or part of your 401(k) will improve your living standard.

ESPlanner (including PLUS and PRO) is full-featured planning software that includes Social Security benefit calculations based on your actual earnings history. The Maximize My Social Security program does just one thing very well: It finds the benefit collection strategy that will give you the highest lifetime benefits. But both programs use the same code to calculate benefits based on what strategy one selects. The Maximize program also makes its own calculations of what's optimal, so you can see what your results look like compared with what we suggest. With ESPlanner, you must choose a strategy since it does not also calculate the optimal strategy for you, although of course you can try out different strategies (e.g., spouse file and suspend, self file and suspend, etc.). So ideally you would use Maximize my Social Security to find the optimal strategy and then use that strategy as inputs in ESPlanner where you can see the impact of that strategy on your entire household economy.

Purchase Questions

I know that the initial cost of the program is more than the annual renewal rate. How do I get the discount on my annual renewal?

The discount for a renewal is automatically calculated when you visit the purchase page and select the product that you already own to purchase. Of course you must be signed in in order for the website to know what you currently own. So if you purchased ESPlannerPLUS for $199 a year ago (or even ten years ago), you will see the cost for ESPlannerPLUS become $70 when you go to repurchase it.

If your last purchase was ESPlannerPRO for $950, you will see your next purchase (your annual renewal) displayed as $750.

ESPlanner runs all of the same features as ESPlannerPLUS except that it doesn't include the Monte Carlo or Upside Investing features. Can you upgrade?

Yes, you can upgrade from ESPlanner to ESPlannerPLUS. The difference in cost between the two programs is $50, so if you are signed in, and if you currently own ESPlanner, you will see the cost of ESPlannerPLUS calculated at $120. This is the total cost of paying the extra $50 for PLUS and paying $70 for another 365 days of renewal download permission. This extra year will be added to the number of days remaining on your current license.

There used to be an install file and an update file. Now there is just one file in my Downloads area.

Yes, we changed our installation script so that you no longer need to manage two downloads. We now have just one file that is "smart" and will detect your current installation and do the right thing!

I purchased a long time ago and have lost my download; can I still purchase just the update?

Yes, once you are in our system as a customer having purchased, you only need to pay the update price. If you are logged in your account, the system will recognize that you once purchased so your calculated price will be the update price. You can then download the file and install from scratch on your new computer.

If you click on My ESPlanner (top right) and do not see the "My Downloads" link directly below your user name at the top and middle of the page, this means that your license has expired.

You can confirm that you are eligible for the renewal price by viewing the Orders tab that should be visible in My ESPlanner and you will likely notice that your most recent order was created more than a year ago.

You can also verify by going to the purchase page now and choosing the product you believe you purchased last (ESPlanner or ESPlannerPLUS or ESPlannerPRO)--your order history should be a guide here--and the price on that product you last purchased will recalculate to the renewal license price instead of the full, new purchase price. If you purchase the renewal, your My Downloads link will reappear in your account along with your download file.

If you believe that you purchased ESPlanner in the past, but the product price is not recalculating to the cheaper, renewal rate, please use the contact form to send us a note and we'll research your order history.

If you have any questions, please use the contact form and we'll get back with you right away.

Database Issues

To be eligible for getting access to update, you need to have a current annual subscription. Your initial purchase gives you update privilege for one year. After 1 year, you can renew at the renewal rate. You do not need to purchase a full version ever again after making your initial purchase.

Updates can be retrieved through the web site:

1. Login
2. Click My ESPlanner
3. See the Downloads tab. .

Interpreting Basic Reports

In a word: inflation.

ESPlanner presents its results in terms of real dollars (also called "today's dollars"). All calculations are done in nominal dollars and then converted. The difference between nominal and real dollars appears most obviously anytime you have a fixed payment or receipt that continues over several years. These values will be reported as decreasing over time, but dollars that are adjusted for inflation over the same period will be the constant value originally entered. This can lead to some confusion. For example mortgage payments are constant over time, every month you make the same payment, but due to inflation the dollars you pay with are worth less each year. In the housing reports this shows up as a decrease in your mortgage payment from year to year because of the conversion from nominal to real dollars.

For those interested in the details of the calculation, a "nominal" dollar paid out next year, for any purpose, is worth 1/1.0316 "real" dollars in this year's terms (assuming a historical average for inflation of 3.16% per year).

While the 2015 Social Security COLA, which is used to adjust 2016 benefits, was 0%, the 2015 CPI-W, the inflation index upon which the COLA is based, was -0.412%. There was deflation, i.e. negative inflation in the CPI-W index. Future inflation has to make up the deflation in 2015, which means that the 2016 COLA will be smaller than the 2016 inflation.

For example, if inflation, as measured by the CPI-W, is 3% in 2016, the 2016 COLA will be 2.6%. Hence, your 2017 benefit, in real 2016 dollars, is smaller than it would have been had there not been deflation in 2015.

Setup on Windows

If you lose your ESPlanner installation due to a hardware failure, you can download the file again at any time during your subscription by logging in to your account at www.esplanner.com. If your subscription is expired, you can renew for $70. Your new or renewed subscription is good for one year from date of purchase.

  1. log in using your e-mail address you registered with.
  2. Enter your password. If you forgot, click "I forgot my password"
  3. If you no longer have access to your old email you used when you made your original purchase, use the Contact Form to ask us for help. Be sure to include your new email in your message so we can reach you.
  4. After you have logged in, click Mt ESPlanner (top, right)
  5. Find the files you may download on the DOWNLOAD tab