Financial planning tools - MaxiFi, Fire Calc, etc?

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cognovimus
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Financial planning tools - MaxiFi, Fire Calc, etc?

Post by cognovimus »

I'm trying to decide how best to chart our financial course for the future. We plan to retire soon and went through an exercise with a fee only financial planner which provided us with a static "plan" based on our assets/income earlier this year. There have been a few ups and down since the beginning of the year, so I'd like to be able to refresh the plan. Financial planners estimate an annual "update" would take about 7 hours of work, more than I care to pay for yearly. Plus they made a few errors, so I'd prefer to be responsible for the data entry.

Tools I have some familiarity with:

1. Fidelity retirement planner (not Full View, as I don't link all my accounts*). What I like about this model: I can input expenses in a fairly customized way (e.g. medical expenses pre and post Medicare, lumpy things like new car purchases can be entered in a particular year) and the model applies an inflation factor. Plus SS and other retirement income can be included. Investments: since I update them manually, it's a bit more work and also I have to enter the asset "class" myself. So I don't rely on this for asset allocation, and I probably need to revisit the asset breakdowns since their model is basing my projected future success on $$ and asset type. Also, I have to choose from an average, below average, or significantly below average market future market performance. Let's just say this last thing makes a huge difference in how much is left at the "end of plan," Fidelity's euphemism for when we're both deceased. Includes MC analysis and retirement "score."

2. PC - Even though I update the investment shares manually*, I find this is very helpful for slicing and dicing our portfolio. SS estimates, other retirement income can be included. Future expense estimates appear to be more broad brush and not nearly as detailed as Fidelity. As far as I can see, this is a drawback. Renders a success % based on MC analysis and alternative scenarios (e.g. retire later, spend less, and get a higher success %).

3. E- money - This is what the financial planners used and it combined the detailed expense estimate (with a customized inflation factor), the assets by Ticker Symbol, providing a projection of income/assets/withdrawals/etc. There were some areas that weren't entirely transparent, but after asking a lot of questions, I got a decent handle on this. I do like it, and it would provide consistency The problem is that it is marketed toward CFPs, not regular folks, and it is very expensive (>$3000).

4. MaxiFi - I've only heard of this, so I'd be interested in hearing from users which features it includes. I can't see the complete output online, only sample pages, so I'm not ready to jump on board without more info.

5. Fire Calc- Again, I've only heard of this. I think I used a short cut version in a "should you retire" scenario, but I need the detail on how to handle investment structuring and drawdown, etc.

Anything out there that would be more comprehensive?





*I know there are two schools of thought on how to handle this, online security-wise, but since the investment companies and banks prohibit sharing your sign-on credentials, I feel safer this way. So I hope I can get advice on the tools without getting into a debate on cybersecurity.
student
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Re: Financial planning tools - MaxiFi, Fire Calc, etc?

Post by student »

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Cyclesafe
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Re: Financial planning tools - MaxiFi, Fire Calc, etc?

Post by Cyclesafe »

IMHO, it's better to get good with Excel and build one's own spreadsheet.

The algorithms used in canned programs are not accessible, so one never knows if their output truely reflects one's assumptions or even current conditions. Building one's own model provides a certainty that output reflects exactly what one puts into it. Garbage in, garbage out. Also, when something changes (taxes for example), I can immediately update my own algorithms and instantly assess their impact.

Often I use my spreadsheet to test what I learn on this forum. Sometimes I discover that what works for most, simply doesn't work for me the same way because I have "peculiarities" not shared by most other Bogelheads. Of course, when I run into this I am VERY cautious because even a small mistake today will be compounded over my remaining 35 year investment horizon.

Finally, since my spreadsheet is only relevant to me, it doesn't need to be very complicated. It is simply not necessary to have TurboTax-like sophistication for the sliver of financial conditions I need to consider. I have purchased/subscribed to Otar's program and MaximizeMySocialSecurity; fun to play with, but learned nothing that I didn't already know. Many people on this forum feel otherwise, however.
"Plans are useless; planning is indispensable.” (Dwight Eisenhower) | "Man plans, God laughs" (Yiddish proverb)
jkrm
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Re: Financial planning tools - MaxiFi, Fire Calc, etc?

Post by jkrm »

I have been a user of Maxifi since it was just their first incarnation of ESPlanner 1.0, the desktop PC-only version back in the mid to late 90s. It is extremely comprehensive, computing taxes for every year (something that Fidelity's old planner did, but the new one does not), allowing "special expenses" and "special receipts", computing Medicare Part B costs (it also inflates the Part B costs by more than inflation, but does not automatically do Part D or Medigap - you'd need to enter those as special expenses, and probably use a higher inflation rate for them too). You can enter things like property taxes and mortgage payments and it handles the taxes correctly. It also computes state taxes. It allows multiple scenarios and you can run a report that compares any scenario to your "base plan". If you decide you like one of the alternative scenarios better, you can replace the base plan with the alternate.

The name comes from the ability to maximize your lifetime discretionary income by looking at when to start social security (BTW, it also computes your social security benefits based on your earnings history), whether and when to annuitize, when to begin "smooth withdrawals" from your retirement plans (these are equal annual amounts - it will also compute your required minimum distribution, and withdraw that amount if it exceeds the smooth withdrawal amount), and whether to withdraw from Roth or regular IRAs first.

This year they added a Monte Carlo capability that they charge extra for, though existing subscribers got it for free for one year. It works pretty well but takes some careful reading of the documentation to understand how it works.

Maxifi does not have you input your annual spending and then compute whether and when you will run out of money, as most planners do. Rather, you tell it how much money you have, all of your special expenses, mortgages, property taxes, when you want to start social security, etc. and it tells you how much you can afford to spend each year. That was a huge help to me back when I was in the accumulation phase as it eased my mind about whether we were saving enough. I am now, like you, very close to retirement and have a pretty good idea of what my expenses will be. I now use Maxifi to reassure me that we'll be able to spend at least as much as I think we'll need to.

I highly recommend it. It's too bad you can't get some sort of limited trial but I think they have some sample output on the site.

Jim
SandysDad
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Re: Financial planning tools - MaxiFi, Fire Calc, etc?

Post by SandysDad »

Without getting into the tools that do it, I would pick three that do it these ways:
1. One that looks at investment performance, income and expenses in a static way over time (ie Inflation and returns are same year to year).
2. One that looks at this on a "historical" basis and tells you if your portfolio survives
3. One that looks at this on a monte carlo (random with parameters) basis and tells you if your portfolio survives

The first will yield the most positive resolution and the last the worst. Note that the monte carlo simulators are garbage in / garbage out so you really have to be careful with the parameters.
deikel
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Re: Financial planning tools - MaxiFi, Fire Calc, etc?

Post by deikel »

I can not help with the specific questions, but maybe to re frame it a bit:

- how much does financial planner charge per hour ? Maybe redoing the analysis only every two years is good enough ? How bad can 7h be in terms of cost ?
- what was teh outcome of the first analysis, did this not include target values for the next couple of years to check against to show you are still within the model ?
- if you feel that the situation has changed so much in one year that you need a new analysis, I think you are not ready and clearly do not have enough safety in place (I don't even know that the market has really changed so much?) and if you are not ready, your retirement is further away then you think it might not need another analysis anyway ?
Everything you read in this post is my personal opinion. If you disagree with this disclaimer, please un-read the text immediately and destroy any copy or remembrance of it.
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NearlyRetired
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Re: Financial planning tools - MaxiFi, Fire Calc, etc?

Post by NearlyRetired »

Hi Cognovimos

I have used FIRECalc which as I understand it uses historical data to see how your current portfolio would have behaved if you has started 1891 (I think) then 1892, 1893 etc.

I have also used Portfolio Visualizer, which again uses historical data as I understand it (and looks very comprehensive).

I have also used Flexible Retirement Planner which doesn't use historical data but uses Monte Carlo simulations to look at the likelihood of success of your portfolio

I would check the specifics of those modellers to see how they work, don't take my view of it - I could be wrong!!

Whilst I am not looking at the specifics between them, if they are all broadly saying "it looks good" then that is good enough for me :?
To err is to be human, to really mess up, use a computer
Topic Author
cognovimus
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Re: Financial planning tools - MaxiFi, Fire Calc, etc?

Post by cognovimus »

student wrote: Fri Aug 16, 2019 7:46 am http://www.cfiresim.com/
https://www.i-orp.com
https://advisors.financialengines.com free with Vanguard for some customers.
Thank you. I'll give them a look.
Topic Author
cognovimus
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Re: Financial planning tools - MaxiFi, Fire Calc, etc?

Post by cognovimus »

deikel wrote: Fri Aug 16, 2019 9:25 am I can not help with the specific questions, but maybe to re frame it a bit:

- how much does financial planner charge per hour ? Maybe redoing the analysis only every two years is good enough ? How bad can 7h be in terms of cost ?
Nearly $2K.
- what was teh outcome of the first analysis, did this not include target values for the next couple of years to check against to show you are still within the model ?
The outcome of this first analysis, which all agreed was "conservative" was 90% chance of success. Yes, I have values from now until "end of plan. "
- if you feel that the situation has changed so much in one year that you need a new analysis, I think you are not ready and clearly do not have enough safety in place (I don't even know that the market has really changed so much?) and if you are not ready, your retirement is further away then you think it might not need another analysis anyway ?
I'd like to adjust my spending (I think it's more or less correct in the aggregate, but some line items are off), do "what ifs," and consolidate/change up my investments, so I can see diverging from the plan --in a positive or negative direction I'd like to monitor that so we can adjust discretionary spending if needed.

Topic Author
cognovimus
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Re: Financial planning tools - MaxiFi, Fire Calc, etc?

Post by cognovimus »

Cyclesafe wrote: Fri Aug 16, 2019 8:07 am IMHO, it's better to get good with Excel and build one's own spreadsheet.

The algorithms used in canned programs are not accessible, so one never knows if their output truely reflects one's assumptions or even current conditions. Building one's own model provides a certainty that output reflects exactly what one puts into it. Garbage in, garbage out. Also, when something changes (taxes for example), I can immediately update my own algorithms and instantly assess their impact.

Often I use my spreadsheet to test what I learn on this forum. Sometimes I discover that what works for most, simply doesn't work for me the same way because I have "peculiarities" not shared by most other Bogelheads. Of course, when I run into this I am VERY cautious because even a small mistake today will be compounded over my remaining 35 year investment horizon.

Finally, since my spreadsheet is only relevant to me, it doesn't need to be very complicated. It is simply not necessary to have TurboTax-like sophistication for the sliver of financial conditions I need to consider. I have purchased/subscribed to Otar's program and MaximizeMySocialSecurity; fun to play with, but learned nothing that I didn't already know. Many people on this forum feel otherwise, however.
I'm not that sophisticated an EXCEL user --using a canned one now for budget monitoring-- and I like the MC analysis and pretty reports.
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WoodSpinner
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Re: Financial planning tools - MaxiFi, Fire Calc, etc?

Post by WoodSpinner »

OP,

I think the Excel tool written by BigFoot, Retiree Portfolio Model and Longvest VPW are excellent tools to get you started,

As mentioned earlier, if you have some Excel skills I suggest you write your own and the functionality and logic applicable to your situation. This becomes a deterministic model that will serve you well during retirement. I second the suggestion of building a probabilistic Model (e.g. Monte Carlo simulation) as well. My favorite was the Flexible Retirement Planner. Suggest you start with the deterministic model first since a lot of the info will be needed for the probabilistic.

WoodSpinner
victw
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Re: Financial planning tools - MaxiFi, Fire Calc, etc?

Post by victw »

WoodSpinner wrote: Fri Aug 16, 2019 10:07 am OP,

I think the Excel tool written by BigFoot, Retiree Portfolio Model and Longvest VPW are excellent tools to get you started,

WoodSpinner
+1
RPM is somewhat overwhelming at first. But WOW. What a resource. We will be using it in combination with i-ORP to help nail down Roth conversions.

We will also be looking VPW and the PMT model worked out by Siamond. Ken Steiner also has a spreadsheet available. I will be using these to guide our withdrawals.

Vic
InMyDreams
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Re: Financial planning tools - MaxiFi, Fire Calc, etc?

Post by InMyDreams »

OK, not what you've asked for, but low cost review that some have reported as useful:
https://planvisionmn.com/

$96/year. Oops, their site says the first year is $134 now. I haven't used it, but I believe you input all your data, which remains available to you while you continue with the service.
Topic Author
cognovimus
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Re: Financial planning tools - MaxiFi, Fire Calc, etc?

Post by cognovimus »

jkrm wrote: Fri Aug 16, 2019 8:18 am I have been a user of Maxifi since it was just their first incarnation of ESPlanner 1.0, the desktop PC-only version back in the mid to late 90s. It is extremely comprehensive, computing taxes for every year (something that Fidelity's old planner did, but the new one does not), allowing "special expenses" and "special receipts", computing Medicare Part B costs (it also inflates the Part B costs by more than inflation, but does not automatically do Part D or Medigap - you'd need to enter those as special expenses, and probably use a higher inflation rate for them too). You can enter things like property taxes and mortgage payments and it handles the taxes correctly. It also computes state taxes. It allows multiple scenarios and you can run a report that compares any scenario to your "base plan". If you decide you like one of the alternative scenarios better, you can replace the base plan with the alternate.

The name comes from the ability to maximize your lifetime discretionary income by looking at when to start social security (BTW, it also computes your social security benefits based on your earnings history), whether and when to annuitize, when to begin "smooth withdrawals" from your retirement plans (these are equal annual amounts - it will also compute your required minimum distribution, and withdraw that amount if it exceeds the smooth withdrawal amount), and whether to withdraw from Roth or regular IRAs first.

This year they added a Monte Carlo capability that they charge extra for, though existing subscribers got it for free for one year. It works pretty well but takes some careful reading of the documentation to understand how it works.

Maxifi does not have you input your annual spending and then compute whether and when you will run out of money, as most planners do. Rather, you tell it how much money you have, all of your special expenses, mortgages, property taxes, when you want to start social security, etc. and it tells you how much you can afford to spend each year. That was a huge help to me back when I was in the accumulation phase as it eased my mind about whether we were saving enough. I am now, like you, very close to retirement and have a pretty good idea of what my expenses will be. I now use Maxifi to reassure me that we'll be able to spend at least as much as I think we'll need to.

I highly recommend it. It's too bad you can't get some sort of limited trial but I think they have some sample output on the site.

Jim
Thanks for the detailed response. I did ask them about a sample of the output, and they told me to watch the video. (If I stop it in the right place and zoom, I can sort of see some of the reports. ) This made me wonder if they provide any tech support at all? Agreed, a trial would be fantastic.

But from what you've said:

1. I enter assets/portfolio numbers (and update them manually)
2. It derives the discretionary part of expenses, given a few key inputs. Is there a limit to the # of special expenses you can enter? Could I enter things like food as a input? I assume you then use EXCEL or MINT or something to track your actual expenses.
3. It helps with the when to start SS decision (for both spouses, I assume)?
4. Will it optimize my withdrawals for tax purposes?
5. One of my probable scenarios is to draw down cash to minimize income during the years we have to pay for ACA medical insurance. Will the model easily handle that as am option?
6. It will help track RMDs once we get there?
7. We'd get the MC version.

Again, thanks much.
dknightd
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Re: Financial planning tools - MaxiFi, Fire Calc, etc?

Post by dknightd »

You have some good recommendations above.
Likely no tool will fit your specific needs and desires.
I think perhaps the most difficult problems are:
How much do you need to spend each year.
How much would you like to spend each year.
How long do you expect to live.
How much do you expect your investments to grow above inflation.
What happens if one you dies first.
It is basically a crap shoot. Or Monte Carlo, or past history. The tools available are just guides, none of them can predict the future.
When I decided to retire I made sure it was highly likely we'd not end up in poverty, or any where near it. And there was good chance we'd still have some recreational money to spend.
I don't know how to answer your question. It depends on which tools you like and trust. It also depends on what input you provide to those tools. I expect to readdress the question once a year.
If you value a bird in the hand, pay off the loan. If you are willing to risk getting two birds from the market, invest the funds. Retired 9/19. Mortgage payed off 5/21. I have some 0% loans to pay off.
jkrm
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Re: Financial planning tools - MaxiFi, Fire Calc, etc?

Post by jkrm »

cognovimus wrote: Fri Aug 16, 2019 10:29 am
But from what you've said:

1. I enter assets/portfolio numbers (and update them manually)
2. It derives the discretionary part of expenses, given a few key inputs. Is there a limit to the # of special expenses you can enter? Could I enter things like food as a input? I assume you then use EXCEL or MINT or something to track your actual expenses.
3. It helps with the when to start SS decision (for both spouses, I assume)?
4. Will it optimize my withdrawals for tax purposes?
5. One of my probable scenarios is to draw down cash to minimize income during the years we have to pay for ACA medical insurance. Will the model easily handle that as am option?
6. It will help track RMDs once we get there?
7. We'd get the MC version.

Again, thanks much.
Answers:
1. Yes, you enter your own assets. It has you enter assets in set "chunks" - your IRAs/pensions, your spouses IRAs/pensions, Yours and your spouses Roth IRAs (separately) and household taxable. You can't, for example, separate out several different 401K plans (at least I don't think you can).
2. Yes, it determines the discretionary spending you can do, which is defined as pretty much everything other than special expenses, real estate taxes, mortgages, college 529 funding. If there is a limit to special expenses I have not run into it (I have 19). You can enter anything you want as a special expense, including food if you want. I have things like major appliances, extra vacation spending for our first 15 years of retirement, planned home improvements, cars, Medicare part D and medigap, etc. You can also specify a tax treatment for special expenses as not tax related, tax deductible, medical, or excludable from AGI.
3. Yes, it helps with the SS start decision. It has a facility for pasting your earnings history from SSA into a window and it parses it, then it can calculate your benefit based on your selected time to start SS. If you run the maximize routine it will automatically test SS start dates (I think it looks at every possible month from your current age to age 70) to find the start date that maximizes your discretionary income for your selected lifespan.
4. I am not real sure about this. It does look at whether to draw from a Roth or regular IRA first, when you do the maximization.I am pretty sure that it draws from your taxable accounts first, unless it is forced to do an RMD.
5. As said above, I think it takes from taxable first. You can also explicitly tell it what year to start taking withdrawals from retirement accounts, so you could tell it not to take any withdrawals till you are 65. Be aware that if you do so, you may have reduced discretionary spending if your taxable account won't cover you till then. Or, you can tell it that you want to withdraw a certain amount from your IRA from now till 65, to help cover the shortfall from taxable. I hope that answers the question.
6. It will automatically compute RMDs. If the RMD is less than the "smooth withdrawal" amount, it will take the smooth withdrawal amount. Otherwise it will take the RMD.
7. As a new customer I think you might have to pay the premium for the MC version. I got it since I was already a subscriber. I find that if I just assume that my investments return 1% over inflation I get results that agree with some of the worst MC scenarios, so I suspect I will stick with the non-MC version for next year.

It's overall very flexible and I have not found anything it can't do, though some things can be a bit kludgey. For example, in deciding whether to do Roth conversions, you have to enter a withdrawal from your regular IRA and a corresponding contribution to the Roth - it doesn't try to do automatic optimization of Roth conversions like i-orp. (But it DOES correctly compute the taxes on that IRA withdrawal.)

Their technical support is pretty good but it's not clear where it is. You have to do a trouble ticket. I find that I get a response within a day, usually within an hour or two. I also see that they have a contact form at https://maxifiplanner.com/contact - I would think they could address anything I have not been able to answer there, and perhaps they can send a sample report. You might also want to look at some of the case studies: https://maxifiplanner.com/case-studies
Topic Author
cognovimus
Posts: 92
Joined: Sat Aug 10, 2019 1:07 pm

Re: Financial planning tools - MaxiFi, Fire Calc, etc?

Post by cognovimus »

jkrm wrote: Fri Aug 16, 2019 2:37 pm
cognovimus wrote: Fri Aug 16, 2019 10:29 am
But from what you've said:

1. I enter assets/portfolio numbers (and update them manually)
2. It derives the discretionary part of expenses, given a few key inputs. Is there a limit to the # of special expenses you can enter? Could I enter things like food as a input? I assume you then use EXCEL or MINT or something to track your actual expenses.
3. It helps with the when to start SS decision (for both spouses, I assume)?
4. Will it optimize my withdrawals for tax purposes?
5. One of my probable scenarios is to draw down cash to minimize income during the years we have to pay for ACA medical insurance. Will the model easily handle that as am option?
6. It will help track RMDs once we get there?
7. We'd get the MC version.

Again, thanks much.
Answers:
1. Yes, you enter your own assets. It has you enter assets in set "chunks" - your IRAs/pensions, your spouses IRAs/pensions, Yours and your spouses Roth IRAs (separately) and household taxable. You can't, for example, separate out several different 401K plans (at least I don't think you can).
2. Yes, it determines the discretionary spending you can do, which is defined as pretty much everything other than special expenses, real estate taxes, mortgages, college 529 funding. If there is a limit to special expenses I have not run into it (I have 19). You can enter anything you want as a special expense, including food if you want. I have things like major appliances, extra vacation spending for our first 15 years of retirement, planned home improvements, cars, Medicare part D and medigap, etc. You can also specify a tax treatment for special expenses as not tax related, tax deductible, medical, or excludable from AGI.
3. Yes, it helps with the SS start decision. It has a facility for pasting your earnings history from SSA into a window and it parses it, then it can calculate your benefit based on your selected time to start SS. If you run the maximize routine it will automatically test SS start dates (I think it looks at every possible month from your current age to age 70) to find the start date that maximizes your discretionary income for your selected lifespan.
4. I am not real sure about this. It does look at whether to draw from a Roth or regular IRA first, when you do the maximization.I am pretty sure that it draws from your taxable accounts first, unless it is forced to do an RMD.
5. As said above, I think it takes from taxable first. You can also explicitly tell it what year to start taking withdrawals from retirement accounts, so you could tell it not to take any withdrawals till you are 65. Be aware that if you do so, you may have reduced discretionary spending if your taxable account won't cover you till then. Or, you can tell it that you want to withdraw a certain amount from your IRA from now till 65, to help cover the shortfall from taxable. I hope that answers the question.
6. It will automatically compute RMDs. If the RMD is less than the "smooth withdrawal" amount, it will take the smooth withdrawal amount. Otherwise it will take the RMD.
7. As a new customer I think you might have to pay the premium for the MC version. I got it since I was already a subscriber. I find that if I just assume that my investments return 1% over inflation I get results that agree with some of the worst MC scenarios, so I suspect I will stick with the non-MC version for next year.

It's overall very flexible and I have not found anything it can't do, though some things can be a bit kludgey. For example, in deciding whether to do Roth conversions, you have to enter a withdrawal from your regular IRA and a corresponding contribution to the Roth - it doesn't try to do automatic optimization of Roth conversions like i-orp. (But it DOES correctly compute the taxes on that IRA withdrawal.)

Their technical support is pretty good but it's not clear where it is. You have to do a trouble ticket. I find that I get a response within a day, usually within an hour or two. I also see that they have a contact form at https://maxifiplanner.com/contact - I would think they could address anything I have not been able to answer there, and perhaps they can send a sample report. You might also want to look at some of the case studies: https://maxifiplanner.com/case-studies
Thanks, I think I'm sold! I'd like to play with some of the free links others sent, because it can't hurt. But the Maxi Fi with MC might be worth paying for.
jkrm
Posts: 97
Joined: Wed Oct 08, 2008 8:20 am

Re: Financial planning tools - MaxiFi, Fire Calc, etc?

Post by jkrm »

I hope Maxifi works for you. I can also say that the Retiree Portfolio Model (RPM) mentioned by another poster is very good, and I tend to use both it and Maxifi. RPM does not have an MC facility and has a learning curve, but I like to use both just to give me a bit more confidence. Bigfoot 48, the author, is very responsive to those needing help and fixing bugs.
SuzBanyan
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Re: Financial planning tools - MaxiFi, Fire Calc, etc?

Post by SuzBanyan »

InMyDreams wrote: Fri Aug 16, 2019 10:21 am OK, not what you've asked for, but low cost review that some have reported as useful:
https://planvisionmn.com/

$96/year. Oops, their site says the first year is $134 now. I haven't used it, but I believe you input all your data, which remains available to you while you continue with the service.
I recently signed up for $96 as a way to access the consumer side of eMoney for a one year period. After that it renews for $8 per month. According to the FAQs on the website, the price for the first year is going up to $134 in January, 2020.

There are lots of adjustments that can only be done on the adviser side of eMoney (estimated inflation or returns, most comparisons), so you need to interact with the planner Mark Zoril. I found him to be very responsive to emails and the 50 minute video conference with Mark to be helpful.

I used MaxiFi a few years ago, and liked eMoney and PlanVision better. With eMoney and PlanVision, the client links accounts (using Yodlee, I believe), which allows them to update automatically thereafter. EMoney doesn’t smooth tax payments in retirement, which means drawing first from taxable accounts, the Tax Defferred, then Roth. It also doesn’t plan for state taxes.
afan
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Joined: Sun Jul 25, 2010 4:01 pm

Re: Financial planning tools - MaxiFi, Fire Calc, etc?

Post by afan »

I have used Maxif and generally find it good.
Some shortcomings:
It assumes one has to start RMDs at 70, even if still working. There does not seem to be a way to fix this.

It used to assume that all capital gains must be realized during life- no option to hold them till death and give heirs a stepped up basis. This has been recently corrected, but the behavior is still strange. You get to tell it what proportion of your annual income is coming in dividends and capital gains, but there does not seem to be a way to tell it that investment returns are largely in unrealized capital gains. Thus, it taxes the unrealized gains each year. You can try to work around this by reporting a lower share of return in capital gains/dividends. But then it misses the growth. So it cannot get taxes right.

Not a problem for me but it sounds like the OP wants to enter a portfolio. It does not work that way. You enter a total amount of money in each type of account (taxable, tax deferred, etc) and an estimated return. You do not enter your individual positions. You can update the totals as often as you like, but the program will not update this for you automatically.

The documentation is terrible. If you want to know what the program is doing, you need to search through previous questions or contact the company with questions. They are very responsive, but a manual that explained what the program is doing would save a lot of time.
We don't know how to beat the market on a risk-adjusted basis, and we don't know anyone that does know either | --Swedroe | We assume that markets are efficient, that prices are right | --Fama
Topic Author
cognovimus
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Re: Financial planning tools - MaxiFi, Fire Calc, etc?

Post by cognovimus »

SuzBanyan wrote: Fri Aug 16, 2019 3:44 pm
InMyDreams wrote: Fri Aug 16, 2019 10:21 am OK, not what you've asked for, but low cost review that some have reported as useful:
https://planvisionmn.com/

$96/year. Oops, their site says the first year is $134 now. I haven't used it, but I believe you input all your data, which remains available to you while you continue with the service.
I recently signed up for $96 as a way to access the consumer side of eMoney for a one year period. After that it renews for $8 per month. According to the FAQs on the website, the price for the first year is going up to $134 in January, 2020.

There are lots of adjustments that can only be done on the adviser side of eMoney (estimated inflation or returns, most comparisons), so you need to interact with the planner Mark Zoril. I found him to be very responsive to emails and the 50 minute video conference with Mark to be helpful.

I used MaxiFi a few years ago, and liked eMoney and PlanVision better. With eMoney and PlanVision, the client links accounts (using Yodlee, I believe), which allows them to update automatically thereafter. EMoney doesn’t smooth tax payments in retirement, which means drawing first from taxable accounts, the Tax Defferred, then Roth. It also doesn’t plan for state taxes.
I see... so for $96 plus $8 per month thereafter, I would get access to the client portal of eMoney? But no ability to make adjustments to the assumptions for inflation, returns? Would Mark Zoril charge extra if that came up? What about tax rates? SS start dates? This might provide some continuity with the plan I got from the FPs which used eMoney (but they don't give access to the client portal unless they manage your assets). I like the idea of that because I invested a lot of time in familiarizing myself with the model's output.
Topic Author
cognovimus
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Re: Financial planning tools - MaxiFi, Fire Calc, etc?

Post by cognovimus »

afan wrote: Fri Aug 16, 2019 4:20 pm I have used Maxif and generally find it good.
Some shortcomings:
It assumes one has to start RMDs at 70, even if still working. There does not seem to be a way to fix this.

It used to assume that all capital gains must be realized during life- no option to hold them till death and give heirs a stepped up basis. This has been recently corrected, but the behavior is still strange. You get to tell it what proportion of your annual income is coming in dividends and capital gains, but there does not seem to be a way to tell it that investment returns are largely in unrealized capital gains. Thus, it taxes the unrealized gains each year. You can try to work around this by reporting a lower share of return in capital gains/dividends. But then it misses the growth. So it cannot get taxes right.

Not a problem for me but it sounds like the OP wants to enter a portfolio. It does not work that way. You enter a total amount of money in each type of account (taxable, tax deferred, etc) and an estimated return. You do not enter your individual positions. You can update the totals as often as you like, but the program will not update this for you automatically.


The documentation is terrible. If you want to know what the program is doing, you need to search through previous questions or contact the company with questions. They are very responsive, but a manual that explained what the program is doing would save a lot of time.
You're correct; my preference would be a tool that combines the best of eMoney, Fidelity and PC. Too bad I'm not a programmer.
kaesler
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Re: Financial planning tools - MaxiFi, Fire Calc, etc?

Post by kaesler »

Another vote for MaxiFi. Works well for me.
Lindyhopper
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Re: Financial planning tools - MaxiFi, Fire Calc, etc?

Post by Lindyhopper »

I have used and liked
. Flexible Retirement Planner - free
. firecalc.com, and it can now take into account social security and changes to income - free
. Income Strategy, which I think is a competitor to Maxifi, it was $20/month

I have not used Personal Capital or Maxifi.

Re: Excel - although I use Excel a lot to calculate, I have never built a model in it. When I think of calculate, I think of using a single number for stock market returns. When I think of a model, it runs many scenarios, either historical or Monte Carlo, and returns a probability to you. There are times when a model is critical.
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Peter Foley
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Re: Financial planning tools - MaxiFi, Fire Calc, etc?

Post by Peter Foley »

While not an exact fit to your question your might find the information I posted to another thread helpful.

One of our presenters at a quarterly BH meeting in Minnesota did a presentation/review of a number of different calculators. If memory serves me correctly Firecalc was rated very highly by the presenter and members of the audience.

Here is a link to a review of a number of calculators: http://www.caniretireyet.com/the-best-r ... lculators/


One of the things Darrow Kirkpatrick does in his review is to note the complexity (thoroughness?) of the tools he reviews.
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cognovimus
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Re: Financial planning tools - MaxiFi, Fire Calc, etc?

Post by cognovimus »

Peter Foley wrote: Fri Aug 16, 2019 8:58 pm While not an exact fit to your question your might find the information I posted to another thread helpful.

One of our presenters at a quarterly BH meeting in Minnesota did a presentation/review of a number of different calculators. If memory serves me correctly Firecalc was rated very highly by the presenter and members of the audience.

Here is a link to a review of a number of calculators: http://www.caniretireyet.com/the-best-r ... lculators/


One of the things Darrow Kirkpatrick does in his review is to note the complexity (thoroughness?) of the tools he reviews.
Great link...maybe a little more than I bargained for but I'll play with the free ones and see how it goes.

Thank you for posting.
SuzBanyan
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Re: Financial planning tools - MaxiFi, Fire Calc, etc?

Post by SuzBanyan »

cognovimus wrote: Fri Aug 16, 2019 5:07 pm
SuzBanyan wrote: Fri Aug 16, 2019 3:44 pm
InMyDreams wrote: Fri Aug 16, 2019 10:21 am OK, not what you've asked for, but low cost review that some have reported as useful:
https://planvisionmn.com/

$96/year. Oops, their site says the first year is $134 now. I haven't used it, but I believe you input all your data, which remains available to you while you continue with the service.
I recently signed up for $96 as a way to access the consumer side of eMoney for a one year period. After that it renews for $8 per month. According to the FAQs on the website, the price for the first year is going up to $134 in January, 2020.

There are lots of adjustments that can only be done on the adviser side of eMoney (estimated inflation or returns, most comparisons), so you need to interact with the planner Mark Zoril. I found him to be very responsive to emails and the 50 minute video conference with Mark to be helpful.

I used MaxiFi a few years ago, and liked eMoney and PlanVision better. With eMoney and PlanVision, the client links accounts (using Yodlee, I believe), which allows them to update automatically thereafter. EMoney doesn’t smooth tax payments in retirement, which means drawing first from taxable accounts, the Tax Defferred, then Roth. It also doesn’t plan for state taxes.
I see... so for $96 plus $8 per month thereafter, I would get access to the client portal of eMoney? But no ability to make adjustments to the assumptions for inflation, returns? Would Mark Zoril charge extra if that came up? What about tax rates? SS start dates? This might provide some continuity with the plan I got from the FPs which used eMoney (but they don't give access to the client portal unless they manage your assets). I like the idea of that because I invested a lot of time in familiarizing myself with the model's output.
From PlanVision, the fee includes “unlimited” access to Mark Zoril by email and scheduled video conference. For a new client, after watching his posted videos about how to enter client information into the program, I sent him several emails with questions about things I couldn’t quite get right. He responded quickly. We then scheduled a video conference which included sharing a screen with the adviser side and going thru some “what if’s”. After that session, he sent a .pdf which included those reports.

The client side generates a lot of reports — asset balances over time, cash flow, taxes by year - but the only way to do comparisons is to print one report, make changes, then compare. Nothing side by side (which is a feature of the adviser side).

Also, the client can’t change certain assumptions, such as inflation rate or calculating taxes assuming the current rates don’t sunset. I assume that Mark could change those for you in response to an email request, but it would not be instantaneous, probably a day or 2.

Personally, I feel pretty good with the reports I have at this time. But if my situation changed, such as involuntary retirement or unexpected inheritance, I would comfortable going back to Mark with more questions or for another video conference (he does sessions which are shorter than 50 minutes, as well.
Topic Author
cognovimus
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Re: Financial planning tools - MaxiFi, Fire Calc, etc?

Post by cognovimus »

SuzBanyan wrote: Sat Aug 17, 2019 6:58 pm
cognovimus wrote: Fri Aug 16, 2019 5:07 pm
SuzBanyan wrote: Fri Aug 16, 2019 3:44 pm
InMyDreams wrote: Fri Aug 16, 2019 10:21 am OK, not what you've asked for, but low cost review that some have reported as useful:
https://planvisionmn.com/

$96/year. Oops, their site says the first year is $134 now. I haven't used it, but I believe you input all your data, which remains available to you while you continue with the service.
I recently signed up for $96 as a way to access the consumer side of eMoney for a one year period. After that it renews for $8 per month. According to the FAQs on the website, the price for the first year is going up to $134 in January, 2020.

There are lots of adjustments that can only be done on the adviser side of eMoney (estimated inflation or returns, most comparisons), so you need to interact with the planner Mark Zoril. I found him to be very responsive to emails and the 50 minute video conference with Mark to be helpful.

I used MaxiFi a few years ago, and liked eMoney and PlanVision better. With eMoney and PlanVision, the client links accounts (using Yodlee, I believe), which allows them to update automatically thereafter. EMoney doesn’t smooth tax payments in retirement, which means drawing first from taxable accounts, the Tax Defferred, then Roth. It also doesn’t plan for state taxes.
I see... so for $96 plus $8 per month thereafter, I would get access to the client portal of eMoney? But no ability to make adjustments to the assumptions for inflation, returns? Would Mark Zoril charge extra if that came up? What about tax rates? SS start dates? This might provide some continuity with the plan I got from the FPs which used eMoney (but they don't give access to the client portal unless they manage your assets). I like the idea of that because I invested a lot of time in familiarizing myself with the model's output.
From PlanVision, the fee includes “unlimited” access to Mark Zoril by email and scheduled video conference. For a new client, after watching his posted videos about how to enter client information into the program, I sent him several emails with questions about things I couldn’t quite get right. He responded quickly. We then scheduled a video conference which included sharing a screen with the adviser side and going thru some “what if’s”. After that session, he sent a .pdf which included those reports.

The client side generates a lot of reports — asset balances over time, cash flow, taxes by year - but the only way to do comparisons is to print one report, make changes, then compare. Nothing side by side (which is a feature of the adviser side).

Also, the client can’t change certain assumptions, such as inflation rate or calculating taxes assuming the current rates don’t sunset. I assume that Mark could change those for you in response to an email request, but it would not be instantaneous, probably a day or 2.

Personally, I feel pretty good with the reports I have at this time. But if my situation changed, such as involuntary retirement or unexpected inheritance, I would comfortable going back to Mark with more questions or for another video conference (he does sessions which are shorter than 50 minutes, as well.
It sounds like the user interface was a little difficult to sort out. I'm assuming I'd have similar (or worse) issues. I'd give myself a "C" in the financial savvy department. But now you are able to rerun your own reports with new balance sheet info/changes in income when you wish to fine tune your plan? e.g. Our FP's eMoney plan generated reports which predicted our investment balances at the beginning of each year based on certain investment assumptions, certain expenses. Well, the market performed a little differently, we spent a little differently, so I'd like to tidy it up at least annually. I could do that with the tool you have? I'd rather not have to go through a third party for that...I'd like to keep it updated on my own.
Retirement Nerd
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Re: Financial planning tools - MaxiFi, Fire Calc, etc?

Post by Retirement Nerd »

kaesler wrote: Fri Aug 16, 2019 6:54 pm Another vote for MaxiFi. Works well for me.
Me too :sharebeer
SuzBanyan
Posts: 736
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Re: Financial planning tools - MaxiFi, Fire Calc, etc?

Post by SuzBanyan »

cognovimus wrote: Sun Aug 18, 2019 6:27 am
SuzBanyan wrote: Sat Aug 17, 2019 6:58 pm
cognovimus wrote: Fri Aug 16, 2019 5:07 pm
SuzBanyan wrote: Fri Aug 16, 2019 3:44 pm
InMyDreams wrote: Fri Aug 16, 2019 10:21 am OK, not what you've asked for, but low cost review that some have reported as useful:
https://planvisionmn.com/

$96/year. Oops, their site says the first year is $134 now. I haven't used it, but I believe you input all your data, which remains available to you while you continue with the service.
I recently signed up for $96 as a way to access the consumer side of eMoney for a one year period. After that it renews for $8 per month. According to the FAQs on the website, the price for the first year is going up to $134 in January, 2020.

There are lots of adjustments that can only be done on the adviser side of eMoney (estimated inflation or returns, most comparisons), so you need to interact with the planner Mark Zoril. I found him to be very responsive to emails and the 50 minute video conference with Mark to be helpful.

I used MaxiFi a few years ago, and liked eMoney and PlanVision better. With eMoney and PlanVision, the client links accounts (using Yodlee, I believe), which allows them to update automatically thereafter. EMoney doesn’t smooth tax payments in retirement, which means drawing first from taxable accounts, the Tax Defferred, then Roth. It also doesn’t plan for state taxes.
I see... so for $96 plus $8 per month thereafter, I would get access to the client portal of eMoney? But no ability to make adjustments to the assumptions for inflation, returns? Would Mark Zoril charge extra if that came up? What about tax rates? SS start dates? This might provide some continuity with the plan I got from the FPs which used eMoney (but they don't give access to the client portal unless they manage your assets). I like the idea of that because I invested a lot of time in familiarizing myself with the model's output.
From PlanVision, the fee includes “unlimited” access to Mark Zoril by email and scheduled video conference. For a new client, after watching his posted videos about how to enter client information into the program, I sent him several emails with questions about things I couldn’t quite get right. He responded quickly. We then scheduled a video conference which included sharing a screen with the adviser side and going thru some “what if’s”. After that session, he sent a .pdf which included those reports.

The client side generates a lot of reports — asset balances over time, cash flow, taxes by year - but the only way to do comparisons is to print one report, make changes, then compare. Nothing side by side (which is a feature of the adviser side).

Also, the client can’t change certain assumptions, such as inflation rate or calculating taxes assuming the current rates don’t sunset. I assume that Mark could change those for you in response to an email request, but it would not be instantaneous, probably a day or 2.

Personally, I feel pretty good with the reports I have at this time. But if my situation changed, such as involuntary retirement or unexpected inheritance, I would comfortable going back to Mark with more questions or for another video conference (he does sessions which are shorter than 50 minutes, as well.
It sounds like the user interface was a little difficult to sort out. I'm assuming I'd have similar (or worse) issues. I'd give myself a "C" in the financial savvy department. But now you are able to rerun your own reports with new balance sheet info/changes in income when you wish to fine tune your plan? e.g. Our FP's eMoney plan generated reports which predicted our investment balances at the beginning of each year based on certain investment assumptions, certain expenses. Well, the market performed a little differently, we spent a little differently, so I'd like to tidy it up at least annually. I could do that with the tool you have? I'd rather not have to go through a third party for that...I'd like to keep it updated on my own.
With eMoney access through PlanVision, your accounts are linked and your balance sheet updates automatically. From the client side, you can change expected savings and sources of future income, as well as expected spending, at any time.

I would expect that changes in expected returns or inflation would be made by the software from time to time over time. Systematic changes like that will show up in all the reports you can review on the client side. But, if for example, you want to compare your cash flow based on 3% inflation, when the system is set up for 2% inflation, you would need to ask Mark to make that change on the adviser side.

PlanVision offers a money back guarantee, so if you find it too hard to set up or that it doesn’t provide the info you hoped, you can cancel.
MathWizard
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Re: Financial planning tools - MaxiFi, Fire Calc, etc?

Post by MathWizard »

I wrote my own, so I know all the assumptions in it, though it is tailored specifically to me, and has my
info on it, so I can't share it.

I find that i-orp seems to provide the closest results to my own, so I would recommend that one if
you need a recommendation. Of course, trying all of them, and getting a range of results may be useful.
Topic Author
cognovimus
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Re: Financial planning tools - MaxiFi, Fire Calc, etc?

Post by cognovimus »

SuzBanyan wrote: Sun Aug 18, 2019 7:54 pm
cognovimus wrote: Sun Aug 18, 2019 6:27 am
SuzBanyan wrote: Sat Aug 17, 2019 6:58 pm
cognovimus wrote: Fri Aug 16, 2019 5:07 pm
SuzBanyan wrote: Fri Aug 16, 2019 3:44 pm

I recently signed up for $96 as a way to access the consumer side of eMoney for a one year period. After that it renews for $8 per month. According to the FAQs on the website, the price for the first year is going up to $134 in January, 2020.

There are lots of adjustments that can only be done on the adviser side of eMoney (estimated inflation or returns, most comparisons), so you need to interact with the planner Mark Zoril. I found him to be very responsive to emails and the 50 minute video conference with Mark to be helpful.

I used MaxiFi a few years ago, and liked eMoney and PlanVision better. With eMoney and PlanVision, the client links accounts (using Yodlee, I believe), which allows them to update automatically thereafter. EMoney doesn’t smooth tax payments in retirement, which means drawing first from taxable accounts, the Tax Defferred, then Roth. It also doesn’t plan for state taxes.
I see... so for $96 plus $8 per month thereafter, I would get access to the client portal of eMoney? But no ability to make adjustments to the assumptions for inflation, returns? Would Mark Zoril charge extra if that came up? What about tax rates? SS start dates? This might provide some continuity with the plan I got from the FPs which used eMoney (but they don't give access to the client portal unless they manage your assets). I like the idea of that because I invested a lot of time in familiarizing myself with the model's output.
From PlanVision, the fee includes “unlimited” access to Mark Zoril by email and scheduled video conference. For a new client, after watching his posted videos about how to enter client information into the program, I sent him several emails with questions about things I couldn’t quite get right. He responded quickly. We then scheduled a video conference which included sharing a screen with the adviser side and going thru some “what if’s”. After that session, he sent a .pdf which included those reports.

The client side generates a lot of reports — asset balances over time, cash flow, taxes by year - but the only way to do comparisons is to print one report, make changes, then compare. Nothing side by side (which is a feature of the adviser side).

Also, the client can’t change certain assumptions, such as inflation rate or calculating taxes assuming the current rates don’t sunset. I assume that Mark could change those for you in response to an email request, but it would not be instantaneous, probably a day or 2.

Personally, I feel pretty good with the reports I have at this time. But if my situation changed, such as involuntary retirement or unexpected inheritance, I would comfortable going back to Mark with more questions or for another video conference (he does sessions which are shorter than 50 minutes, as well.
It sounds like the user interface was a little difficult to sort out. I'm assuming I'd have similar (or worse) issues. I'd give myself a "C" in the financial savvy department. But now you are able to rerun your own reports with new balance sheet info/changes in income when you wish to fine tune your plan? e.g. Our FP's eMoney plan generated reports which predicted our investment balances at the beginning of each year based on certain investment assumptions, certain expenses. Well, the market performed a little differently, we spent a little differently, so I'd like to tidy it up at least annually. I could do that with the tool you have? I'd rather not have to go through a third party for that...I'd like to keep it updated on my own.
With eMoney access through PlanVision, your accounts are linked and your balance sheet updates automatically. From the client side, you can change expected savings and sources of future income, as well as expected spending, at any time.

I would expect that changes in expected returns or inflation would be made by the software from time to time over time. Systematic changes like that will show up in all the reports you can review on the client side. But, if for example, you want to compare your cash flow based on 3% inflation, when the system is set up for 2% inflation, you would need to ask Mark to make that change on the adviser side.

PlanVision offers a money back guarantee, so if you find it too hard to set up or that it doesn’t provide the info you hoped, you can cancel.
You have to link by entering your sign-on credentials for your investment/savings accounts? No option to enter the Ticker letters/shares in lieu of the direct links to your portfolio?
Topic Author
cognovimus
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Re: Financial planning tools - MaxiFi, Fire Calc, etc?

Post by cognovimus »

MathWizard wrote: Sun Aug 18, 2019 8:48 pm I wrote my own, so I know all the assumptions in it, though it is tailored specifically to me, and has my
info on it, so I can't share it.

I find that i-orp seems to provide the closest results to my own, so I would recommend that one if
you need a recommendation. Of course, trying all of them, and getting a range of results may be useful.
I agree. I'd like to try out a bunch. Once. Then I need to settle on one or two that I can use for monitoring and adjustments going forward.
SuzBanyan
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Re: Financial planning tools - MaxiFi, Fire Calc, etc?

Post by SuzBanyan »

“You have to link by entering your sign-on credentials for your investment/savings accounts? No option to enter the Ticker letters/shares in lieu of the direct links to your portfolio?”

You can enter each holding in each account without linking to your online account. Of course, this takes more time initially, as well as more upkeep as you reinvest or sell.
outdoorphotoandfam
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Re: Financial planning tools - MaxiFi, Fire Calc, etc?

Post by outdoorphotoandfam »

Hi all- do any of these planning tools provide a way to input variable savings over time? For example, if I expect to stay in a high income job for a few more years, then take a year off, then do consulting, my ability to save for retirement will change over time. It seems most tools assume you will save the same amount (or with a slight increase) every year until retirement, or have a single savings rate with an end date. Thanks!
afan
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Re: Financial planning tools - MaxiFi, Fire Calc, etc?

Post by afan »

Maxifi Planner would let you specify a different saving amount each year if you had the data entry patience to do it. It also lets you input different levels of "special expenses" for any year or years you choose.

The only problem is that it is so focussed on telling you the maximum you can spend that it takes some wrestling to get it to project any spending amount below the max. Annoying, but you can get around it.

Easy to run different scenarios without having to repeat all the data entry. Documentation is gradually getting better. Great support.

I prefer commercial programs or RPM for anything beyond simple spreadsheets. I do not have anyone checking my work, so I may never know if there is a mistake somewhere buried in a complex spreadsheet intended to reproduce something like Maxifi. Plus , when tax, SS, Medicare or other laws change, they have to figure out the new rules and update the program. Way easier than doing it myself. With widely used programs, there are many eyes on the output to detect errors.

I find it cheap for what you get.
We don't know how to beat the market on a risk-adjusted basis, and we don't know anyone that does know either | --Swedroe | We assume that markets are efficient, that prices are right | --Fama
jyoung
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Location: Houston, TX

Re: Financial planning tools - MaxiFi, Fire Calc, etc?

Post by jyoung »

outdoorphotoandfam wrote: Tue Sep 14, 2021 6:31 pm Hi all- do any of these planning tools provide a way to input variable savings over time? For example, if I expect to stay in a high income job for a few more years, then take a year off, then do consulting, my ability to save for retirement will change over time. It seems most tools assume you will save the same amount (or with a slight increase) every year until retirement, or have a single savings rate with an end date. Thanks!
OnTrajectory will let you model out different variables, including savings rate, during different time spans. It's not free if that's a deal killer, but the price is fairly negligible. I really like it for these more specific modeling capabilities and the ability to change variables with just a click or two.
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Kenkat
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Re: Financial planning tools - MaxiFi, Fire Calc, etc?

Post by Kenkat »

I have been using the Fidelity Retirement Planner recently to project retirement income, spend down, assets, etc. and overall really like it. I like that you can enter all of the detail you want, start and stop expenses or income, enter your total assets and asset allocation and get an easy to understand overall score and projected assets at your demise.

I do not use it for asset allocation, portfolio tracking or long range investment planning. I use the Morningstar Premium Portfolio Tracker for tracking my portfolio (go figure) and feed those numbers into a spreadsheet to determine asset allocation and rebalancing triggers.

I use a second spreadsheet to project long-term investment targets as well as track actuals and my returns against my benchmark. That one has 20+ years of data in it so it is a pretty interesting snapshot of the journey so far.

I’ve also used some of the monte carlo based tools like firecalc, i-orp, etc. to get a second opinion and they all say basically the same things.
mrb09
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Re: Financial planning tools - MaxiFi, Fire Calc, etc?

Post by mrb09 »

I'm currently going back and forth between maxfi, Pralana Gold and my own spreadsheet.

- Maxfi is a little different in that rather than asking for your expenses, it will take your "fixed" expenses and calculate your "discretionary" expenses using a glide path, so the number stays the same before and after retirement. In theory, this is the same amount that you use for a more standard calculator when it asks for your expenses. I find maxfi the easiest to use, but I can't always figure out how it is doing certain types of calculations.

- Pralana Gold is an excel spreadsheet, and I found it a little clunky on Excel for my Mac. But it is very flexible and gives great reporting output and is very transparent, easy to see (for example) impact of Roth conversions at top of 15% or top of 22% bracket after retirement. It will do monte carlo or historical data simulations. For me, this is my favorite calculator in terms of input control and its output.

- My own spreadsheet takes into account RMDs, Fed and State taxes and Roth conversions, but I only calculate a fixed rate of return, I didn't try to do monte carlo.

I've tried a few other calculators, but I'm at the point now where I'm mostly comfortable with what I need and how much I'm likely to have, so I'm looking at how to balance inflation risk vs. capital preservation, maximize Roth conversions and adjust my future RMDs to be closer to what I'll need to withdraw, I need something that does Fed and State taxes pretty well.
Sahara
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Re: Financial planning tools - MaxiFi, Fire Calc, etc?

Post by Sahara »

mrb09 wrote: Tue Sep 14, 2021 7:31 pm I'm currently going back and forth between maxfi, Pralana Gold and my own spreadsheet.

- Maxfi is a little different in that rather than asking for your expenses, it will take your "fixed" expenses and calculate your "discretionary" expenses using a glide path, so the number stays the same before and after retirement. In theory, this is the same amount that you use for a more standard calculator when it asks for your expenses. I find maxfi the easiest to use, but I can't always figure out how it is doing certain types of calculations.

- Pralana Gold is an excel spreadsheet, and I found it a little clunky on Excel for my Mac. But it is very flexible and gives great reporting output and is very transparent, easy to see (for example) impact of Roth conversions at top of 15% or top of 22% bracket after retirement. It will do monte carlo or historical data simulations. For me, this is my favorite calculator in terms of input control and its output.

- My own spreadsheet takes into account RMDs, Fed and State taxes and Roth conversions, but I only calculate a fixed rate of return, I didn't try to do monte carlo.

I've tried a few other calculators, but I'm at the point now where I'm mostly comfortable with what I need and how much I'm likely to have, so I'm looking at how to balance inflation risk vs. capital preservation, maximize Roth conversions and adjust my future RMDs to be closer to what I'll need to withdraw, I need something that does Fed and State taxes pretty well.
https://www.bogleheads.org/blog/portfol ... entations/

You might check out the demos of a few other tools such as the Flexible Retirement Planner and NewRetirement in the chapter presentations if you haven’t already seen these tools.
Exchme
Posts: 570
Joined: Sun Sep 06, 2020 3:00 pm

Re: Financial planning tools - MaxiFi, Fire Calc, etc?

Post by Exchme »

Firecalc is great for answering the "can I retire" question. You give it a few inputs and it looks at all the different historical starting years and shows you how you would have fared. The key thing people miss is you have to make your own estimate of taxes and then the program just uses that, adjusted for inflation. But if you have ever looked more deeply, you will realize taxes don't work like that.

Opensocialsecurity.com is the most comprehensive site for figuring out when to claim SS, they have programmed in all the weird permutations that can occur.

As others have mentioned, you can get an approximate lifetime plan very quickly with i-orp.com, scroll down to Extended Input. It finds the maximum you can spend, if you want a cushion or want to leave a legacy, you enter a value for Plan Surplus. You can also select that you want to get ACA subsidies, so it will limit your income in those years (though that is an extra constraint that gives a warning). My main issue is that it does several simplifications of taxes including basing IRMAA on the current year instead of two years prior and missing things that apply to higher income like NIIT, medicare taxes, AMT, deduction phaseouts. You can do Roth Conversions, but let it find the right answer, do not ask it to limit to a tax/IRMAA tier, that Is too many constraints and it will likely fail. Make sure you use the same asset allocation in all accounts or you aren't holding your overall asset allocation constant - that's particularly important in Roth conversion studies, otherwise you've mixed effects of Roth Conversions with the effects of different asset allocations and learn nothing.

The Bogleheads Retiree Portfolio Model, available at this site's wiki, is very powerful and full featured, and since it is an unprotected spreadsheet you can modify it yourself if you are brave. I am in love with the new beta version that has a unique feature where you can preferentially put your bonds in your t-IRA, that really helps slow the growth of that account and reduces the amount of Roth Conversions you need to do, I haven't found another program that lets you do that.

RPM is excellent for the DIY type as you can modify the program as needed. There are some simplifications in taxes such as no taxes on long term capital gains, and missing NIIT, medicare taxes, AMT and deduction phaseouts. You can do Roth Conversions, though the process is manual - that is both bad and good at the same time as it is finicky to find the optimum, but you can do customizations that other programs can't. For instance, you might want to yo-yo income up and down to do heavy Roth Conversions one year and then reduce income to get ACA subsidies for a few years. The programmer is strictly volunteer but can be reached via the RPM thread here.

I use Pralana Gold ($99 1st year, $49 renewal, requires Excel) extensively. It is far more complete than i-orp or RPM with a very comprehensive set of input options, including HSAs, insurance, pensions, variable income, variable expenses, property costs, property sales etc. It has different withdrawal strategies like Guyton-Klinger programmed in, it shows historical and Monte Carlo results, and has an excellent tax package. The program can find a Roth conversion strategy or you can select from tax brackets and IRMAA tiers. The program allows you to select different SS claim ages for you and your spouse and see the result immediately for your tax situation. While it requires the same asset allocation in all accounts in order to get meaningful results, you can change asset allocations four times over your lifetime, (so I actually use the reallocations to manually put bonds preferentially in tax deferred, I adjust stocks the IRA so the overall stock allocation is a bit below target and then let the overall stock allocation rise for a few years until it is above target and then I reallocate - very fussy and manual, but until the beta of RPM came out, it was the only way to model tax efficient asset placement). Pralana's input is well organized, the menus are clear and the programmer is responsive and helpful.
Admiral
Posts: 3657
Joined: Mon Oct 27, 2014 12:35 pm

Re: Financial planning tools - MaxiFi, Fire Calc, etc?

Post by Admiral »

FRP does it all (or mostly all) for free. However, it will not calculate your average tax rate for you, nor your marginal rate. You simply input what you anticipate your average tax rate will be. I don't think this is a huge issue but others will disagree I'm sure. Results are in current dollars (not inflated like RPM) though you can enter any inflation rate (or range of rates) you want. IRMAA etc not handled; use RPM for that.

It's a very powerful tool and the heatmap feature is very good.

As others have said, it's MC not historical, but as long as you explore a range of options/outcomes I think it will do what you need. No learning curve. Also the developer answers questions very quickly on the help forum.

I have used it for over 5 years.
outdoorphotoandfam
Posts: 2
Joined: Tue Sep 14, 2021 6:28 pm

Re: Financial planning tools - MaxiFi, Fire Calc, etc?

Post by outdoorphotoandfam »

Thanks, all! I will take a closer look at Maxifi and Pralana.
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