Google “retirement calculator” or “financial calculator” and you’ll easily find hundreds or thousands of sites. Most people looking for a retirement calculator are trying to figure out one thing:

Can I retire?

It’s important to understand the variables needed to plug into a retirement calculator, but also to know that the numbers that come out are just that…numbers, not FACTS. More on that later, but for now, here’s the basics you’ll find in any retirement calculator.

Current age: Time is a critical factor. How much time YOU have will help determine the odds of your success.

Age you plan to retire: Retirement age isn’t THE destination, but a very important way-point where you stop adding to your nest egg and start TAKING from your nest egg.

Life expectancy: How long you will likely live will help answer “Will I run out of money?” For a general estimate, you can visit For a more accurate life expectancy contact our firm for a complimentary Healthcare Assessment based on your info.

Current savings: To begin any journey, you have to know where you are starting.

Expected Social Security Income: Knowing what your Social Security Benefit will provide is a key piece to filling in your retirement income puzzle. You can get your personal Social Security statement by visiting

Other income you expect in retirement: If you own rental property, or have a pension, you’ll be asked to add that into the equation to determine you overall odds of success.

Average investment return: Estimating the rate of return you expect to get helps calculate what your dollars might grow to. DO NOT overestimate your potential returns. Using a rule of thumb for young people is probably ok, but if you’re in your 50’s or older, you’ll need the most accurate number possible. For help determining an accurate rate of return for YOU, contact our firm for help.

Rate of inflation: Knowing how the trend of the increasing cost of “things” will impact your future dollars is VERY important. Do you think that people who are 80 years old today paid the same for a car when they were 20 and a twenty-year old would pay today? Using a general rate of 3-4% inflation is ok, but keep in mind, the rate of inflation in general might not reflect inflation for specific items like home health care or medical costs.

Your current income: This number is used to determine what your likely retirement income will need to be. Generally, we get used to a standard of living and want to maintain that standard in our golden years.

Desired retirement income: For a long time the rule of thumb was that a person would only need 50% of their current income in retirement. In the real world we are actually seeing current retirees continuing to want and need 100% of their pre-retirement income. Count on you needing the same.

With this information in your hand, you can use a retirement calculator to get a general idea of how on track you are, and if you can afford to retire. Just remember that the numbers you find after you plug in your data to a calculator will be very sterile. Life events can change your outlook remarkably for good or bad and that’s where a calculator WON’T help. A qualified, HUMAN financial planner can!

Will Parrish is a founding partner of Slate, Disharoon, Parrish and Associates, LLC, located in Knoxville, Tennessee. Feel free to contact Will with questions via email or directly by phone at (865) 357-7373. Visit their website,, or connect with Will on Linked In at


 Securities offered through Registered Representatives of Cambridge Investment Research, Inc., a Broker/Dealer, Member FINRA/SIPC. Advisory services offered through Cambridge Investment Research Advisers, Inc., a Registered Investment Advisor.  Slate, Disharoon, Parrish & Associates, LLC and Cambridge are not affiliated. Cambridge does not provide tax advice.