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Student Retirement Calculator

Powered by: LearnEarnRetire © LLC (Assumes you have a 401k Plan)

We would very much appreciate any and all feedback on how we can make this better. Thank you.

DISCLAIMER: This calculator and information are made available to you as enlightenment tools for your independent use and are not intended to provide investment advice. We cannot and do not guarantee their applicability or accuracy in regard to your individual circumstances. All examples are hypothetical and are for illustrative purposes. We encourage you to seek personalized advice from qualified professionals regarding all personal finance issues.

This calculator is designed to give you a potential estimate as to your future and financial well-being in three easy graphs: 

You can read these instructions or scroll down and jump in, and at the end you can send a PDF of results to yourself. You can only input in the lightened boxes.

•The following instructions are meant to get you started quickly. Soon we will provide an advanced guide and additional support on LearnEarnRetire's YouTube channel.
Comments and input back to us’s College Salary Report
Payscale's Four Year College List
Payscale's Two Year College List

Dave Ramsey’s Website Resources

My Favorite Financial Experts
David Bach
Terry Savage
Suze Orman
Dave Ramsey

Quick Tip:

→ Begin with a simple plan:

To begin, enter your age, compensation estimates and employee investment match (if there is one).

For reference, we have set some reasonable defaults that you can adjust later

1. Determine your early and mid-career compensation:

• If you are a college student or recent graduate, go to PayScale's College Salary Report to determine what your early and mid-career earnings will be based upon the college you graduate(d) from.

• If you are going straight from high school to the workforce: Find realistic information on new hire and mid-career earnings through research.

Quick Tip:

→ You can also get these estimates from a seasoned professional in the field you are entering!

2. Enter your "Salary Information" (using estimates you just determined)

Early Career Pay - This is calculated by as the median pay for alumni who are 0-5 years out of college.

Mid-Career Pay - This is calculated by as the median pay for alumni who are 10+ years out of college.

Quick Tip:

→ The calculator can run 5 different scenarios so that you can compare different options.  If you want to activate or deactivate columns 2-5 you can toggle them at the top of that column.  Then you can edit any variable in a yellow box to compare  different choices.

→ We suggest starting off with one column and then changing specific variables in each column as you analyze deeper.  Remember that you can send a PDF of your results with each changed variable to your email.

3. Enter your "Contribution Decisions":

Starting Age of Contributions into Retirement Savings - This is the age where you begin to invest part of your salary into retirement. Remember: the earlier, the better!

Ending Age of Contributions into Retirement Savings - This is the age where you stop investing money into your retirement. If you’re not sure, 65 years old is a good estimate for now.

Retirement Age - at what age will you officially retire? 

Starting Contribution Percentage - what percentage of your pre-tax salary will you invest in your retirement? We advise at least 6%.

 • Goal Contribution Percentage - This is your eventual goal percentage of your salary that you hope to invest into retirement? We advise 15%.

Quick Tip:

→The next cell, "Estimated Full Years to Goal Contribution Percentage," is calculated automatically. This is the number of full years it will take you, starting in the year at which you make your "Starting Contribution Percentage," until you reach your "Goal Contribution Percentage" if you apply all of your raises to your retirement plan and enjoy the benefits of early aggressive compound interest.

 →We strongly urge you to consider this strategy. After you employ this strategy, if you have determined that, say, 15% of your compensation will go towards retirement, 85% of every raise thereafter goes to your lifestyle and 15% would go to retirement.

•If you say "YES, I want to employ this strategy and forgo all my raises to reach my goal contribution percentage" enter the already calculated "Estimated Full Years to Goal Contribution Percentage" (If Forgo Raises) as your "Full Years to Goal Contribution Percentage".

•If you say "NO, I will give some of my raises to retirement but not all (in the early years)" you can manually insert the number of years you want to get from your starting contribution percentage to your goal contribution percentage into the cell "Years to Goal Contribution Percentage".

4. Enter your "401(k) Employer Matching Criteria":

• If the employer matches your contributions, enter the maximum percent they will match.

 ◦ Example: The employer matches 100% of the first 6%. If this is the case, you would:

◦ Enter 100% in the cell: Employer Matching Rate

 ◦ Enter 6% in the cell: Employer Matching Maximum

• If the employer does not match, leave these cells blank.

5. Enter your "Investment Assumptions":

• In the "Annual Rate of Return on Retirement Investment (%)" cell you can put in the average estimated rate of return you expect from your investments (usually in equities) over the course of your career. We place a default estimate of 7.5 percent.

6. Enter your “Annual Brokerage Fee”:

  • In the “Annual Brokerage Fee (%): cell you can enter any fee that an investment broker may take from your investment as a service fee. This is usually between 1-1.5%.

7. Examine your results

  • Below the data entry fields, you will find multiple graphs that will give you a rough estimation of what your potential results will be. Obviously, we cannot guarantee these results, as the market is always in flux. However, if you stick with your goals, you will be well ahead of other people your age. Most people don’t even think about retirement until it’s too late. Don’t be like most people. Be different.

  • At the bottom of the page, you will find a button where you can send your results sent to your email, in the form of a PDF file. Be sure to keep these results in your records for future reference.

(at retirement age)

• These automatically calculated boxes below show a summary of contributions
• The chart below shows a bar graph of outcomes from the variables you submitted.
◦ How much you invested
◦ How much your employer invested (if applicable)
◦ How much your money grew from the parameters you input
(The box at the bottom of the chart shows the total for each column)
Quick Tip:
- This assumes you continually deposited money into your 401k
- This also assumes you did not deplete or borrow against that plan
(it would be wise to do both)


This area allows you to: 
1. Enter your "Annual Rate of Return on Retirement Investment during Retirement" 
2. Change your investment assumptions during retirement
 3. Set the percentage that you want to take out annually from your portfolio 
4. Add a cost of living adjustment to factor in inflation
Quick Tip:
- Typically financial professionals advise retirees to trade lower return on investment 
in exchange for lower future volatility because they are drawing off of their portfolio.
• On the next page is a very revealing chart. Most students do not know what to do with, or how they could manage, the financial nest egg they will have accumulated over the course of their career. Toward a deeper level of understanding we show:

◦ Estimated final years of compensation
◦ What you would be extracting from the input you rendered
◦ A percentage of how those two amounts differ

• This shows the estimated amount of your portfolio over time, given the choices you have made. 

- Most people know you can predict what you spend, but not how long you will live.


We are so glad you are working with the calculator. A recent Transamerica research study said, 60% of Americans have a retirement strategy, but only 
12% have written it down. The majority of the previous generation, the Baby Boomers, failed to adequately fund their retirement. When they were 
your age they did not think this would be them:

• Of people in America currently that are 46-64 years old:
◦ 23% have no retirement savings/investments
◦ 46% have less than $10,000 in savings/investments
 ◦ 60% have less than $25,000 in savings/investments

• The average person at retirement has:
◦ 3 times their last year's compensation in their 401k account

• Yet the experts say they need:
 ◦ 6 to 8 times their last year's compensation in their 401k account
◦ Therefore they are unfunded by more than half

Most early employees do not adequately fund for their retirement because:
1. They are so confused by the topic that their eyes glaze over and they end up doing less than they could, and less than they should.
 2. They think "When I make some real money, I will start"



1. Begin to save and invest immediately
 2. The experts say to get to a number of 12-15% of your income as soon as you can
3. The most important thing is to start now and build from there
 4. Set an initial percentage at LEAST to the maximum of the match if your employer offers one
 5. Target a goal percentage to get to over time
 6. Hold your lifestyle flat, and put every dollar of every raise towards getting to your goal percentage until you reach it
7. After that, with every raise, 85% go to enhancing your lifestyle and 15% go into your 401k or other investments
9. If you get into debt trouble, search for Dave Ramsey Debt Snowball and follow his Baby Steps
10. Read one financial book a year and expand your mind

The fact that you are here is abnormal, and that's a good thing. The opposite of success is not failure, but conformity. Starting now is abnormal, or to
 put it another way, exceptional. Wear it well. You are on your way.

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