Create Your Own Early Retirement Planning Calculator

You may be able to retire early if you are willing to start saving for it now.  Use this spreadsheet to find out how much you need to retire.
You may be able to retire early if you are willing to start saving for it now. Use this spreadsheet to find out how much you need to retire. | Source

Have You Ever Thought of Retiring Early?

After a long, dreary day at work, have you ever dreamed about retiring early? Just imagine the possibilities! You wouldn't have to go back to work the next day. No more deadlines. No more inconsistent directions and unreasonable expectations. No more waking up before the sun came up.

As these long dreary days kept repeating themselves over and over again, instead of simply dreaming about retiring early, you can make a plan. Having a strategy will give you a new purpose for those long days, and hopefully one day you can manage to live your dreams.

This article will list the items you need to consider to come up with a financial plan to retire early.

How Much Money Do You Need to Retire?

As you might imagine, money would be the biggest factor in realizing the dream of an early retirement. You need to save money, and lots of it. First, you need to save enough money for the regular retirement. Make sure that is funded first, since you won't be able to do it during your early retirement years. You want to make sure that you plan for your ailing health as you age.

Then, you need to save even more money for your early retirement. Make sure you plan enough money for travel and entertainment, so you can really enjoy your early retirement to its fullest.

Many people who don't take the time to work out the calculations recommend saving a million dollars. You may want to live off the investment earnings and leave the principal to your beneficiaries. Since the odds of winning the lottery are slim, this savings would have to be done the old fashioned way by working hard and saving money. This figure is so daunting that most people don't even bother to try.

Why Bother Doing the Calculations?

The facts of your life are pretty much going to happen, whether you choose to crunch the numbers or not. You will probably retire, and you will eventually die. If you take the time to calculate your earnings and compare them to your needs, you will have time to make adjustments now, while you still can. If you are still working, you can work longer, or save more. If you are retired, you can live more frugally, or take on a part time job.

Since I worked with spreadsheets every day, I created a spreadsheet to help me see how much I needed to accumulate, and how much progress I was making. This spreadsheet helped provide me with the motivation to pack my lunches and limit my purchases to the bare essentials. I tried using software that helps you plan, but I really liked the spreadsheet since I knew where every number came from and could tweak it to really fit the expected changes in my life.

Since early retirement savings is a long term goal, it was hard to save money for it before I created the spreadsheet. Making the spreadsheet helped provide more immediate gratification as I saw my savings increase month by month.

The Early Retirement Spreadsheet

An early retirement spreadsheet can help you make sure that your dreams are realistic, and help provide the motivation to stick to your long term goals.

It is a matter of estimating of how much money you will need every month to live comfortably from the date you start until the month you expect to die. Then enter your estimated earnings for all the months. The goal, of course, is to make you have money to last you until your final date. If you die early, the remaining money can be an inheritance.

Factors to Consider in Your Calculations

  • the earlier you start, the better: you have longer you have to save your money let the power of compounding work for you.
  • the retirement date: the longer you work before you retire, the less money you will need for your retirement
  • amount of money you have saved: if you have money saved up already, you will have a good start in your early retirement fund
  • frugality: the less you need to live now, the more you can divert to your early retirement savings
  • ability / willingness to work after retirement, and expected income: if you are willing to continue to supplement your retirement savings, you can start off with a smaller savings amount
  • estimated cost of retirement activities: the cheaper you are willing to live, the less money you will need for your retirement

When I first created my spreadsheet, it showed me that early retirement may be crazy with my income. I saw how unrealistic my dream was. Then I made small adjustments to the numbers - I worked a few more years, reduced my living expenses, planned to continue working part time during my retirement.

I read a book called Die Broke by Stephen Pollan, and decided that it was all right if that last number was a 0, and not bother leaving an inheritance for my daughter. If I died early, she could have what was left, but if I waited until my estimated death date, she would have to fend for herself. She can blame him for this advice.

You can change parts of the strategy until the numbers are more realistic and reasonable. I tweaked that spreadsheet in many ways so I could get that final balance at age 100 to be a small positive number.

As time went on, I filled in my estimates with actual numbers to make sure that I was on track with my early retirement. This kept me motivated and served as a visual reminder. Whenever I wanted to buy something, I knew that it would have to fit in my "needs" amount, or else I would be taking away money from my early retirement.

The numbers in the spreadsheet below are not the actual numbers, but give you an idea of what the spreadsheet looks like.

Early Retirement Planning Spreadsheet

Date
Age
Needs
Income
Investment Earnings
Savings Deposits / Withdrawals
Savings Balance
1/1/2001
20
$2,000.00
$3,000.00
0
1,000.00
1,000.00
2/1/2001
20
2,001.00
$3,001.00
4.00
1,000.00
2,004.00
... and so on
 
 
 
 
 
 
6/1/2081
100
3,000.00
0
22.00
(2,978.00)
0.00
During my working years, the savings amount continues to increase, and after my retirement, more and more of the savings is used. An important fact I learned from my calculations is that I needed to save significantly more than the standard recommend

Considerations

There are many factors which need to be added to the spreadsheet, many of which are not known. Estimating these important figures may seem like your calculations will not be accurate, but remember that all forecasts are subject to change due to changing conditions. Your goal is to create as accurate a forecast as you can, and make allowances for changes as you move forward.

Here are some guidelines for how to calculate some of these figures. I put them at the top and referred to them in my calculations. That way, I could change them to see how changes affected my numbers.

Your Death Date

Most of us don't know when we will die, but we can come up with a figure that is reasonably accurate. You can use actuarial tables, or be conservative and plan to live as long as the oldest person, or choose a number in between based on your family history.

Inflation

The current inflation rate is around 2%. You can use that, or look at the inflation rates or use an inflation calculator to come up with a different estimate. The inflation rate is used to increase the estimated amount you will need every month. It can also be used to increase your salary while you are working.

Investment Earnings

I simply used my current rate of return on my investments, and tweaked it based on my expectations. If you invest only in safe investments, you will get a smaller return. If you invest in stocks, you may get higher returns, but you should make allowances for investment losses.

Needs

The easiest way to consider your future needs is to start with the amount of money you currently need for your living expenses. That number can fit in the current needs month, just as it is. Then you can consider how your needs will change in the future. Make adjustments for future months as necessary based on your circumstances.

Reductions in Need:

  • when the house is paid off (no more mortgage, but remember taxes and insurance)
  • when a child moves out (save some for gifts though)
  • when you retire and no longer have to costs of working, such as professional fees, transportation, expensive lunches, uniforms or suits

One thing that hadn't occurred to me until I created the spreadsheet is that I did not need my current income. Since I was saving about a 1/3 of it for my retirement, I was only living on my full income. Since I wasn't going to be saving for retirement during my retirement, I only needed 2/3 of my income going forward.

Increases in Need:

  • having children
  • buying a house
  • education
  • wedding
  • inflation
  • increased health concerns as you age
  • travel and entertainment

Investments for Early Retirement

While you will likely want to save your retirement savings in tax protected vehicles like 401K or IRA, remember to keep your early retirement money outside of these savings vehicles. You will need them before your official retirement date.

Income

Just like the needs section, it generally works best to start with your current income, and adjust accordingly.

Increases in Income:

Reductions in Income:

  • staying home to take care of kids or elderly parents
  • potential layoffs / adjustments for seasonal employment
  • early retirement

Retiring early is possible if you are willing to take the steps to save up for it.  Start today.
Retiring early is possible if you are willing to take the steps to save up for it. Start today. | Source

Early Retirement Spreadsheet

The spreadsheet is meant to cover only the factors which will make a big impact on your retirement. By simply comparing your needs to your expected income, you can see whether you have shortfalls or will have a lot of money left over. You can make adjustments to your spending and savings so that you can make sure that you can be financially comfortable during your retirement.

Many people dream of retiring early. In order to make your dream come true, you have to be willing to take the steps to get what you want. Create a spreadsheet and see what steps you need to take to make that dream come true.

© 2012 Shasta Matova

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Comments: "Create Your Own Early Retirement Planning Calculator" 30 comments

Millionaire Tips profile image

Millionaire Tips 3 years ago from USA Author

Thanks Kelly for all your compliments. I am honored.


kellyteam profile image

kellyteam 3 years ago from Michigan

This is awesome Millionaire Tips. You really put this hub together well with lots of useful information. Your organizational skills are just too much. I relly like your writing still. You give great details and make your concepts totally understandable. Awesome work. thank you so much for sharing. This will be shared. Awesome awesome awesome.


Millionaire Tips profile image

Millionaire Tips 4 years ago from USA Author

Thanks nancynurse, I think you can smooth out the bumps because you anticipate them in your planning. I think social security will be available for us, but we do need to make sure we have supplemental or alternative income just in case.


nancynurse profile image

nancynurse 4 years ago from Southeast USA

Thank you for sharing. You have put some great ideas on paper. Too bad our economy is not prospering as we wish it would . Afraid Social Security may not be an option for late and post baby boomers. Great job. Voted up!


Millionaire Tips profile image

Millionaire Tips 4 years ago from USA Author

Thank you Redberry Sky. I stopped looking at my spreadsheet for a while too when I stopped working at the bank, but looking at it again really reaffirms my plans and helps keep me on track. Yes, there will be life changes, and some of them might cause you to either lose focus of your goal or maybe change your goals entirely, but having a plan and aiming for a goal is really helpful.


Redberry Sky profile image

Redberry Sky 4 years ago

I used to make spreadsheets like this all the time - kept me going when work got too, too dull - but I've let my financial plans slide somewhat in the past few years. This article is great information to get me motivated again and back on track. Fantastic, detailed information; much appreciated :)


Millionaire Tips profile image

Millionaire Tips 4 years ago from USA Author

Yes I knew what you meant carozy - I just think a real spreadsheet might be more helpful for people who aren't used to creating their own.


carozy profile image

carozy 4 years ago from San Francisco

I meant the picture you included, which gives me some good ideas for column headers. Although a free spreadsheet sample would be awesome. :)


Millionaire Tips profile image

Millionaire Tips 4 years ago from USA Author

Thanks carozy - I am glad you found it useful. I was thinking of including a real spreadsheet on Google Docs, but I have to figure out how to use that first.


carozy profile image

carozy 4 years ago from San Francisco

Excellent article that I will refer to often. Thanks for also including the spreadsheet to work with. Voted up :)


Millionaire Tips profile image

Millionaire Tips 4 years ago from USA Author

Thank you Vellur. Planning for retirement with a retirement spreadsheet lets you look productive while you are daydreaming at the office, provides incentive to keep saving for a very long term goal, and provides you with the cash to handle many of the financial storms that life may bring. It is a lot of fun.


Vellur profile image

Vellur 4 years ago from Dubai

Early retirement sounds fun. As you have pointed out a lot of planning and saving up to do. Great hub.


Millionaire Tips profile image

Millionaire Tips 4 years ago from USA Author

Thank you Timetraveler2. I'm sorry you had health issues that made you lose your career, but I am happy that you were prepared and were able to ride out the storm. You're right, having a substantial savings account will help provide you with more options than you would have when your health or the economy takes a downturn, or when something doesn't go as planned.


TIMETRAVELER2 profile image

TIMETRAVELER2 4 years ago

This is a very complicated topic to tackle in just one hub, but your premise is absolutely spot on. I did spreadsheets almost daily for years to try and see how things would work out. Then one day I got really sick and almost died. I lost my career 6 years earlier than I had planned for. My illness could have ruined us...but it didn't. Why? Because we did exactly as you suggest...saved, lived frugally and planned. I've been retired now since 1999 and everything is just fine. So for those of you who read this on, pay attention!! Great Hub my friend.


Millionaire Tips profile image

Millionaire Tips 4 years ago from USA Author

Thankyou teaches12345. I look at my spreadsheet often to make sure I am still on track with my plans, and make adjustments as necessary to keep me in line with my goals.


teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 4 years ago

Your facts and stats are good guidelines for planning retirement. Hopefully, one would be able to use it wisely through the next years. The spreadsheet idea would really help to budget and organize for the future. Great post.


Millionaire Tips profile image

Millionaire Tips 4 years ago from USA Author

Thanks alocsin. You're right, it is worthwhile to create a spreadsheet and do the calculations to make sure you have enough money for a regular retirement as well. I know we would hate to put the burden on anyone else, but if we don't bother planning, that is exactly what we are doing.

Thanks Green Lotus. I do hope you can retire before 120. At least by 85 with boundarybathrooms! I think most of us wind up dying broke anyway. It is just that when we make plans, we plan unreasonable numbers and give up because they are unrealistic. I am sorry I don't know how much longevity insurance is; I just recently found out about it.


Millionaire Tips profile image

Millionaire Tips 4 years ago from USA Author

Thanks boundarybathrooms, I hope you are able to retire way before 85!

Thanks DonnaCosmato. I told my daughter I won't finance her college so I can save up for my retirement home. I would hate to put the burden on her when she is trying to raise a family. I may have forgotten to mention to her that I was planning to die broke!


Millionaire Tips profile image

Millionaire Tips 4 years ago from USA Author

Thank you prasonline, I am glad you enjoyed reading the hub. I hope when you create a spreadsheet and see how long you need to work before you retire, you find that it is a very short working time.

Thank you John Sarkis. You're right, many people have probably given up on early retirement, and in fact have even delayed their regular retirement. I recommend not giving up on the dream just because of the economy. When you keep striving towards the goal, you are more able to reach it.


Millionaire Tips profile image

Millionaire Tips 4 years ago from USA Author

Thank you Ruchira, I do hope you take the time to create a spreadsheet and work out the numbers so you can see how feasible your current financial plan is. You may be able to tweak your lifestyle to make sure that you are set for the future.

Thanks Victoria Lynn. You're right, the spreadsheet would work for any of your financial plans, including working from home. I would think working from home would save you money in transportation, clothing, etc, and give you some tax advantages as well. The key is to find an opportunity that will earn enough money to meet your needs and wants.


Millionaire Tips profile image

Millionaire Tips 4 years ago from USA Author

Thank you all for reading and commenting. I wish you the best in all of your dreams.

Thanks Jill Larson. When you are conservative with your money, you are more able to have a conservative retirement, even an early one.


Green Lotus profile image

Green Lotus 4 years ago from Atlanta, GA

At the rate I'm going I'll have to be 120! Hmmm I'm beginning to see the sense in dying broke. I wonder how expensive longevity insurance is? I think it's a bit late for my elderly mom :(


alocsin profile image

alocsin 4 years ago from Orange County, CA

Great considerations for retirement at any age. Voting this Up and Useful.


DonnaCosmato profile image

DonnaCosmato 4 years ago from USA

Excellent tips and resource, Shasta! I love the comment about how your daughter can blame the book author if you die broke and don't leave her anything. I may get/read the book myself and adopt your philosophy. Voted up.


boundarybathrooms profile image

boundarybathrooms 4 years ago from Colne, Lancashire, UK

At the rate I'm going I'll be retiring at 85 lol.


John Sarkis profile image

John Sarkis 4 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

Great article. Yes, we've all thought about retirement at one point or another. With our depleted economy, many people have put off this "most elated of life's moments" and have pushed it foward and forward into the future.

Voted up

John


prasonline profile image

prasonline 4 years ago from Sri lanka

I read your ideas about Retire Early with an Early Retirement Spreadsheet.

very enjoyable, voted up. Have a Nice Day


Victoria Lynn profile image

Victoria Lynn 4 years ago from Arkansas, USA

I would like to retire by age 40! Wait--I'm 5 years behind. LOL. Working from home would be fine, too. I don't need a lot of money to survive, as I'm very frugal. Saving this hub to refer to. Many votes!


Ruchira profile image

Ruchira 4 years ago from United States

an interesting read, shasta. retirements sure sounds wonderful but with inflation can't think of it...the spreadsheet sure was resourceful.

voted up and sharing it across.


Jill Larson profile image

Jill Larson 4 years ago from Financial Freedom!

Hi Millionaire Tips! I am a person who is very conservative with my money and I definitely want to retire early. I enjoyed your ideas about making yourself a spreadsheet so that we can visually see what we need to do to make our goals happen! This was a very enjoyable article from me, thank you for sharing!

-Jill Larson

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