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Strategies to Select the Choicest 401K and Retirement Calculator

The web is full of free tools and 401(K) calculator functions that promise to help you plan for your retirement and sort out your long-term investment needs.

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of websites offering a 401(K) calculator or retirement calculator - all promising to show you exactly how much you need to save for your retirement. 

However, each of these tools use different calculation strategies and different assumptions, meaning they all give you varying advice.

To answer the question of which calculator produces the best results, we decided to test three different online calculators (only free ones).

As an example test subject we used a single, 45-year old male currently earning $50,000 per year with a small mortgage, $90,000 in a 401(K) and a savings rate of about 10% per year.

Our "test subject" has a goal of retiring in 20 years (at 65) and living on $50,000 per year with a life expectancy of 100 years.

To find out how each 401(K) calculator on the web rated, along with their recommendations, keep reading.

Calculator: Ballpark Estimate (URL:

The Ballpark Estimate Calculator has some bad news - our test subject will have to save close to 56% of his annual salary to meet his goal of retiring by the time he's 65 with a 100% post-retirement income of $50,000. Prospects are grim for our test subject, unless he opts for riskier investments.

In terms of quality and experience, the site took a little over 9 minutes to complete the questionnaire and calculate the final results. Overall, it was easy to use and lets you include extra income sources like a part-time job or investment returns. The one major drawback is that you can't fiddle with the numbers or make major adjustments without starting over from the beginning.

Calculator: Nationwide's Retirability (URL:

Nationwide's retirement calculator tool actually gives you a score based on your readiness for retirement. Our test subject scored 88, a poor ranking when 100 and up should be your overall goal.

In terms of quality and ease of use, the site was fairly fast and provided clear results. It took about 8 minutes to complete the questionnaire and calculate the results. Afterwards, it provided clear and easy to read results. Another bonus factor? It lets you input major assets like home equity.

The AARP Retirement Calculator (Online at:

At the moment, our test subject is saving just over $400 in his retirement savings. According to the AARP calculator, that amount needs to increase to $1600 in order to meet his goal of full retirement at 65.

The 401(K) calculator took about 10 minutes to use. Though not as flashy as the other tools on this listFree Web Content, it provided clear and easy-to-understand results that were complimented by a graph and easily editable variables.

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