So you’ve visited a retirement calculator like and input some specific data about yourself to get some numbers on what you’ll need to save to afford to retire.

What you do with that data is one thing, but before marching forward, what is MISSING from the sterile calculation you just got?

  • Life events: Did the calculator ask you if you MIGHT get divorced? Married? Re-married? Have a cardiac event? Etc. Getting numbers is good for sterile engineering, but when life happens the best-laid plans can bend or break. Programming in the “what if’s” of life is where great financial planning comes in.
  • Your personal health: Sure, you’ve got a great 401(k) savings, cash in the bank, maybe your home is paid for…but how’s your health? Even if you say “Great!” how many people consider their family history when answering that question? Almost everyone has heard about the marathon runner who dropped over of a heart attack or the fit health nut who had a stroke. FAMILY HISTORY and your personal health are generally not factored into the calculation you got.
  • Your potential rate of return: Sure retirement calculators ask you to estimate your rate of return, but how accurate were you? Will ALL of your assets get the rate you entered into the calculator? Or will some of your assets not earn anything? Will some grow at an astounding rate? This number is important and needs to be accurate. More importantly, YOU need to be aware of how your current savings and assets are working for you to determine how they will help, or hurt, your retirement income.
  • Family members who might need your help: How many Americans today aged 55 and over are currently caring for an elderly parent? How many of the same are helping a troubled adult child? What about special needs of family members? It isn’t likely that the financial calculator figures those variables in to determine your odds of success. A great financial plan WILL consider those risks and paint the picture of how they might impact your future.
  • Long-term care expenses: Most of us don’t think we’ll end up needing help to get dressed, shower, or make it to the bathroom. Unfortunately, the need for those “long-term care” services is increasing. Your cost for long-term care services will vary depending on where you live, but it isn’t likely that those expenses are figured in to your retirement income picture using a retirement calculator. (For help determining YOUR personal potential long-term care and medical expenses in retirement, contact our firm for a complimentary Healthcare Expenses Assessment.)

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.