The following retirement tools are the best in their category. I’ve researched each category in-depth and with a fiduciary’s heart, pick the one that is the most useful and provides tremendous value. Every retirement tool below is either free to use or provides much more value than it costs. I recommend these tools to help my family, friends, and clients prepare for retirement. Some of the links below are affiliate links, which means that if you choose to sign up, I’ll earn a commission. This commission comes at no extra cost to you.
Updated as of April 2017
Best Retirement Management Software
Personal Capital – I recommend signing up for Personal Capital for those who want a best-in-class experience without paying a dime. They are an online financial software where users can link all of their accounts to track their portfolio, income, expenses, and much more. The best thing about this software is that once you link all of your accounts, you can run all sorts of reports that really put you ahead of the game.
The Retirement Planner function of the software is one of the best tools inside of the software. Personal Capital automatically generates a retirement report based assumptions which you can change.
This tool is great to see if you’re on track to retire. The closer you get to retirement, the more accurate the forecasted percentage chance that your portfolio will support your goals (expenses) in retirement. And of course you can change the numbers around to see what you’ll need in order to get your percentage in the high 90’s.
Signing up for Personal Capital is the first step in taking control of you finances. Once you link your accounts, run all the tools to see how your portfolio measures up and if there are areas for improvement. It only takes a minute to sign up and several more to link your accounts. I wish they would’ve invented this software earlier. I’ve spent years updating spreadsheets and trying to figure out the best allocation manually.
Real Estate Crowdfunding Platform
RealtyShares – RealtyShares is the leading online marketplace for investing in private real estate. Deemed: “Lending Club for Real Estate,” RealtyShares allows investors to diversify their portfolios via professionally vetted real estate investments for as little as $5,000. Over 12,000 investors have funded over 1,500 properties on RealtyShares.
Best Social Security Software
Maximize My Social Security – Maximize My Social Security is hands down the best software you can buy to get the highest benefits from Social Security. Whether you’re married, divorced, widowed, or single, this tool is for you analyzes your specific retirement scenario and shows you the consequences of taking Social Security at different ages. Social Security is complicated! You name it and this software covers it: inflation-adjusted wages, benefit-specific reduction formulas for early benefits, earnings test, deeming provisions for married and divorced, delayed retirement credits, earnings limit credit-backs, suspend options.
It’s an absolute necessity to get this software if you want to compare the lifetime benefit amount of different filing strategies. It’s a no-brainer for only $40.
Best Online Social Security Calculator
CFPB Calculator – The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) just came out with this online calculator that estimates how much Social Security you’ll receive at different ages based on when you file. This calculator uses the SSA’s website for data used to estimate your annual payment for Social Security depending on when you claim. It doesn’t pull your specific data. Instead, it estimates your 35-year income history based on your date of birth and the highest annual income you achieved during your career. You type in two data points and this tool figures out the rest.
Best Online Broker
TD Ameritrade – I’m a huge proponent of rolling over your 401(k) into something you control. TD Ameritrade offers a seamless way to do this. They’ll give you $600 and 2 months of free trades for opening and funding an account. But the best part about TD Ameritrade is they offer over 100 commission-free ETFs through companies like: iShares, Powershares, SPDR®, Vanguard and more. Stock trades are $9.99 each way and options are $0.75 per contract.
Best Mortgage Lender
LendingTree – Most soon-to-be retirees should carry a mortgage going into retirement. There are just too many benefits to having a mortgage versus having a paid off house: greater capital, inflation protection, risk mitigation, tax-deductible interest. It may sound counterintuitive but carrying a mortgage is one of the pillars to optimizing your retirement.LendingTree is the best mortgage company to use because of their scale. They have the ability to you have your business bid on by money lenders so that you get the best deal. You can’t afford not to use LendingTree if you’re refinancing or purchasing a new home.
Best Fund Company
Vanguard – King of low-fee passive investing, Vanguard takes the top spot of all fund companies. You can trade their ETFs commission free and they’re the lowest cost ETFs around. Charles Schwab, T. Rowe Price, and Fidelity are all low fee fund companies, but Vanguard has a slight edge. Not every Vanguard fund costs less than its competitor fund. For example, Fidelity Small Cap Index Fund costs just 0.19%, compared to the Vanguard Small-Cap Index Fund at 0.20%. Make sure you’re looking at the fees on the funds you’re likely to buy prior to opening an account or rolling over your 401(k).