ESPlanner versus Torrid-Tech Retirement Software
This maybe an unfair question to ask in this forum.
However, I am wondering if anyone is familiar with using both ESPlanner and Torrid-Tech Retirement software.
1) In reading reviews, I am under the impression that ESPlanner is more difficult to use than Torrid Technologies software. I am looking for an accurate program that is easy to use. Could anyone comment on this?
2) I am concerned that I might not be able to accurately understand and interpret all the information the ESPlanner provides. In the following personal example someone shared in their blog with using ESPlanner, the user found that it suggested to put off saving for retirement until later in life as they had kids, but when the kids were removed then the program suggested to start saving eariler. This was confusing to me. It seems pretty risky to put off saving. The link follows if someone could comment on this?
Thanks for your help in advance.
This is an awesome forum. Thanks for all your replies.
I am understanding better now the shift in thinking. This approach definitely provides a more accurate assessment in planning your financial future. I will work with the basic edition first as suggested to decide which version would work best for me.
Thanks again for all your input.
Fri, 06/10/2011 - 00:00
I haven't used Torrid, but
I haven't used Torrid, but can give some ESPlanner insights.
First, you can try https://basic.esplanner.com/ for free. It doesn't have all the functionality, but you can get a feel for the basics.
Second, you can get started fairly easily with just a few items input (e.g. earnings, assets, housing, maximum age of life, expected rate of return, etc.) and get useful results. In my experience, as I've added and adjusted items over time I've found they've had a significant impact on the ESPlanner results. By inputing "realistic and conservative" assumptions, your confidence in the results will be higher.
For example, lets say you decide to input your kids going to college, future healthcare expenses and LTC expenses, etc. That will make a big difference in the results, but will also make it more accurate. Another example is when/how to take Social Security benefits. There's absolutely no way short of testing your own unique situation and benefits to know which combination is right for your family. You can start out with the default ages (e.g. full retirement age) and then experiment with taking benefits earlier or later along with spousal benefits to see what works best for you.
Regarding your point #2, it all depends on your specific situation. Some people spend more than they should (per ESPlanner's recommendation) and putting off saving is risky for them. Others live well beneath their means and this isn't an issue for them. In any case, ESPlanner will take a year-by-year view (per your inputs and it's programming for SS, taxes, returns, etc.) and try to give you a smooth standard of living for life. You can always try to increase this standard of living and some choices (e.g. Social Security) make a big impact, but there are many more financial levers and you don't have to figure this all out at once.
A good place to start is the book "Spend 'til the end" which describes a couple of dozen real-life examples using ESPlanner to first understand and then increase your standard of living for life. ESPlanner puts a huge amount of effort into accurate Social Security benefits, other benefits, state and federal taxes, life insurance, customer support, etc. If you start with the basics and build from there, you should be happy with the accuracy and relevance of the results for your specific situation.
Sat, 06/11/2011 - 00:00
I haven't looked at the Torrid-tech product, but with respect to your confusion about the "save later" recommendation, you are correct: putting off saving later is riskier. But that means that having kids must be riskier since raising them is definitely going to reduce a household's ability to save for retirement. Esplanner is not saying that putting off saving is ok or without risk, it is saying that's the best you can do with income constraints. So, I think Esplanner is spot on with its recommendation. It's up to the blogger to decide whether he can afford kids or not.
The big advantage I find with Esplanner is that the scope is lifetime planning, not just for retirement. This is important for me because I am retired, but my wife is in mid-career.
Most of the competing calculators focus on retirement and then really only on investments. They usually omit one or more of these critical items: salary income, real estate, SS payments under varying choices (such as delaying), insurance, advantages of relocation, and state & federal income taxes.
The other crucial advantage of Esplanner is that the standard of living you can afford is an output of the program, not an input. For some reason people have accepted the idea of planning retirement in just the opposite way that they (the prudent ones anyway) plan their work life. During our working years we don't start out by saying here is what our non-negotiable standard of living is, and do we have to take more investment risk to pay for it? instead we say how much income do we have to spend on consumption and then we decide where we can live, how big a house, what kind of car, etc.
There are calculators that are easier to understand, it is true. But I think Einstein's dictum applies here: things should be made as simple as possible, not more so.
Sun, 06/12/2011 - 00:00
Thanks you both Brian and NYC
Thanks you both Brian and NYC for the great explanations of the advantages of ESPlanner. I can't tell you how often I (we) have said this, even to supposedly professional financial and economic types and how often they just don't get that consumption is an output of planning, not an input.
Thank you, thank you,