5 Replies Latest reply on Aug 28, 2010 6:50 AM by JerryD

    software

    ldecola
      I'm (still!) looking for software I can use to do my investment and retirement planning. The pros have elaborate and expensive 'scenario' programs they use to assemble reports, and many companies have online programs, but I want something I can use for my own planning - and I'd like it to interface with Excel if possible!

      Attached is a fragment of an Excel chart I use to track total and changes in our net worth...
        • Re: software
          Toddy
          There must be something in the Quicken or MS constellation of products that will satisfy most needs.  I was enrolled in "Financial Engines" for a time, which I found very insightful.  Consumer Reports or the Wall Street Journal did a review of products recently - - by "recently" I mean the past four years.  But I am afraid most were online products.  If I come across it, I'll let you know.  You COULD ask your own financial planner (hah!  and put him right out of business!)  But face it, who's going to be more interested in the dynamics of your own financial picture than you?  I say, run your own scenarios, and be fore-armed for the annual chat with the planner.
            • Re: software
              ldecola
              Well, perhaps I'll develop my OWN package based on a few worksheets.

              One feature that the pros tout is Monte Carlo simulations, but these just generate an ensemble of forecasts that can easily be summarized by a few statistics. And the last 2 years have probably screwed up their models big time.
                • Re: software
                  JerryD
                  There is nothing as flexible as a spreadsheet. Sometimes we are too sophisticated when doing analysis. I even went so far as writing investment software that I hoped to sell. But it's hard to stay ahead of a gang of programmers working for a company with millions to spend.

                  Sophisticated and exacting measurements can consume you. Good clear goals and developing some simple back-of-the-envelope techniques can be very useful and even sufficient. Some good records and an understanding of compounding will provide a pretty good technique for measuring "how am I doing".  Look up the Rule of 72 for a simple measure of how long and what return do I need to reach a goal.
                    • Re: software
                      ldecola
                      Jerry, thanks for your wise advice!

                      We're using a combination of Quicken, home-grown spreadsheets, and something called ESPlanner.

                      But it's true there's no substitute for common sense and simple, comprehensible models - especially in these highly uncertain times.

                      (And then of course there's Medicare, when to take Social Security, how to re-balance investments, and a bewildering plethora of options...all piling up when you're getting less mentally nimble!)

                      Lee.
                        • Re: software
                          JerryD
                          ldecola said...

                               
                          ...

                          (And then of course there's Medicare, when to take Social Security, how to re-balance investments, and a bewildering plethora of options...all piling up when you're getting less mentally nimble!)

                          Lee.
                               
                                          

                          Set your priorities, then take them one at a time, Lee. After all, we have all the time in the world now, right? I am starting to tell people that I need to get a job so that I have more time to get things done. LOL

                          I recall a discussion in one of the threads around here about investigating Social Security options. Reading that may help. I strongly advise educating yoursefle very well because it is complex and choices seem to pop up that you never heard of before.

                          Medicare is complex too, especially IMO if you have coverage from your last employer. I didn't and funded my own health insurance up to when I could take Medicare. I was greatly disappointed when my doctors wouldn't take any Advantage plans. But the Feds are changing the cost effectiveness of these plans as we speak.

                          I found that it is essential to get a good Supplemental coverage (MediGap) and drug coverage (don't skip this if not covered elsewhere because it gets permanently more expensive the longer you wait). I chose the state Blue Cross which is good if not inexpensive. I've had some fairly expensive check ups for the standard colon stuff and haven't seen any costs so far except the mixture that you have to drink (how ridiculous for $50 or so!). Self-funded medical goes out-of-sight at Medicare age, but then again, if you add up all of the costs of Medicare and MediGap and drug coverage they are very expensive also. I believe that Part A, hospital coverage, which appears "free" due to you paying for it while working, is really quite expensive when it is paid to an Advantage plan, something like $450/month.

                          On investment education and choices, I have found that the Chicago-based American Association of Individual Investors (AAII) is an excellent and incredibly inexpensive resource at $49/year. They also have a quarterly computer investing literature for a few more bucks if you want to spend all of your time in analysis paralysis. You can get a lifetime subscription for about $400 that includes the computer option among others. I avoided this resource for years because I just didn;t see how anything that cheap could be worth the paper it is printed on. WRONG!!!!

                          Good luck, Lee.