This sheet will help you look at different saving and investing scenarios as well as begin to understand how retirement math works. You can plug in your age and current resources, sketch out your retirement goal, and see how different retirement goals and returns affect the “what do I need to save?” path to get from here to there. One takeaway you should get is that it’s always better to start sooner. On my own “goals,” my number each year is pretty high. But I can save the annual amount for each of my kids relatively easily. For me, that’s the choice I want to make and it matches up with my own path.
This tool is based on some modestly helpful articles I read about that hinted at these calculations but didn’t do anything other than provide flat numbers based on fixed assumptions. But a few tools are important to help you really understand how the math works. I hope you find it helpful.
The only mistake you can make in using the spreadsheet is pretending you can get 30% returns to “game” the numbers down to the amount you’re saving. The point really is to see that you have two lines: how much you spend, and how much your savings can pay off.
Here’s an article that provides a deeper analysis of savings rate and retirement math. Here’s what you should be aiming at once you get a meaningful savings rate in place: look at these charts and the entire analysis on that blog. Let me know if you think – or have! – a good tool for putting that analysis together. I’d like to see it integrated in YNAB, frankly.
Remember, whether you like the numbers or not, knowledge is power.