Sensible retirees control their finances with a retirement planning spreadsheet. Below, I’ll walk you through how to build one and how to use one. More importantly, I’ll show you my three favorite retirement planning spreadsheet templates. Use them concurrently, or choose just one to suit a specific need.
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3 Free Retirement Planning Spreadsheet Templates
I’ll cover a few of the most important reasons to use a retirement planning spreadsheet below. But first, here are three of the most useful ones I created with my team. Note that these retirement spreadsheet templates are free. Please make a copy for yourself and update it with your own information.
The Retirement Calculation Spreadsheet from the Guide
If you want to use the exact retirement planning spreadsheet I describe below, make a copy here. It’s expansive, and my favorite part if the year by year breakdown. You can make it even more impressive with graphs and other visuals.
Note that this spreadsheet, like the others, lets you choose your anticipated return. That makes it easy to plan for best and worst-case scenarios.
Investments/Income/Spending Retirement Spreadsheet Calculator
This template has a more detailed breakdown of your investments, income, and spending and how they’ll impact your retirement plans. Use this one if you want a more in-depth look at your balances. You could then combine this sheet with a Google Sheets expense tracker for even more detail.
Simplified Retirement Stash Template
This template only has 11 simple parameters and is primarily for counting the years needed to save for your goal. This one could be used as a simple FIRE retirement strategy spreadsheet or an easy way to put shared income in for a couple’s retirement planning spreadsheet.
How to Create a Retirement Planner Spreadsheet
If you’re ready to build your own retirement plan spreadsheet, there are a few things you’ll want to include. Note that I’m providing the following step-by-step instructions, but you can also get one of my premade templates where everything is already built out.
Layout and Formatting
Start by choosing the format for your spreadsheet. I highlighted cells A1 through G1 and merged them. Then, I chose a black background color with white text. These are stylistic choices, and they’ll have no bearing on the numbers you end up entering into the sheet.
Here’s a more detailed explanation of my process creating the retirement planner’s spreadsheet.
- A header should instantly gain a user’s attention, so it’s a good idea to make the header bigger than the other elements. To merge the cells, go to Format > Merge cells, and click Merge all.
- To make the text readable on a light or dark background, choose the fill and the text color of the header box.
The heart of any spreadsheet template is the variables and formulas you’ll enter into it. For retirement planning, that means entering your current savings, your expected contributions, and how much you expect to see as a return. This is the centerpiece of your worksheet, and it’s what you’ll edit when you want to test different retirement scenarios.
In my retirement plan spreadsheet, I went further. I added six inputs. To format them, I changed their box fill color and added a border around the cells. Most importantly, I made sure that each of the variables pertained to my end goal: investment growth.
That already looks good. Now, we just need to get the investment data.
Once you’ve got the variables set up, you can start working on the formulas. You’ll just need to input formulas for each of the cells, then drag them down so they apply to the entire sheet.
In my retirement planning spreadsheet, which you can download above, my most important calculation is the “ending balance” cells. Here’s what the formula looks like in one of those:
The other cells tend to be even easier. For example, the beginning balance formula in cell D16 is just:
And to get the investment gain, you just use the following formula in H16:
Remember, if you don’t want to make your own spreadsheet from scratch, you can use my retirement planner template above. That’s already built, and you can adjust the numbers for your own situation.
Now that the retirement spreadsheet is created remove the unnecessary cells by clicking and selecting the header column and row one by one. Then right-click on them and click on the Hide column or Hide row option.
Above, I’ve shown how to hide a row in your spreadsheet. This makes it even cleaner. Note that you can also remove gridlines or change the background color for additional personalization.
Steps to Consider While Planning for Retirement
There’s a reason we put so much emphasis on retirement planning. It’s important. A well-funded retirement portfolio doesn’t just fund everyday expenses. It also accounts for tax implications, emergencies, and healthcare.
Investing and Saving: The Basics
Wealth accumulation happens during your working years. For some people, that means opening a high-yield savings account and starting a stockpile. For many more, it means opening an investment account and contributing to a 401k or IRA. There are benefits to each of these avenues, and a well-rounded retirement plan accounts for all of them.
As you build a retirement spreadsheet, consider which accounts you plan to track. Add cushions for years of underperformance and regular evaluation timelines, where you can adjust your figures to account for a changing financial landscape. The premade retirement spreadsheets I’ve included are made especially for this purpose. They’re built for planners, and they reward those who make annual adjustments.
A retirement calculator like the one above shows how many years you have until retirement based on your goals, savings rate, and inflation during your working years.
If you’re working on getting out of debt, take a look at my guide on using the snowball technique. It also includes a free spreadsheet template.
Common Mistakes: Diversification and Taxes
Many retirees find themselves underinvested or overinvested in tax-advantaged accounts. That’s one of the reasons it’s so important to plan ahead. A retirement planning spreadsheet helps you evaluate whether you’re contributing enough during your working years, so you can minimize taxes as you draw down your balances.
Diversification plans another important role in retirement planning. Consider whether you want more or less exposure to broad market funds as you approach retirement. Index investors generally expect to see high annual returns, but they understand the risk of market corrections. Many investors choose to move funds to less risky investments as they approach retirement.
Important Components: Timing and Accumulation
While some factors, such as bear and bull markets, are out of your control, there are three essential components that you can control: the timing of your savings, the amount you save, and the date you retire. More savings and earlier retirement planning are significantly more important than the actual returns on their assets. Retiring later gives investments more time to potentially rise.
These timelines focus on longer-term goals. If you want to build a schedule for much shorter-term goals, check out my schedule template.
Adjustments: Regular Check-ins
Another reason I prefer to use a retirement spreadsheet: It allows me to adjust for new circumstances. My plan changed when I had a child. It changed when I started my first job with a 401k, and it changed again as my career advanced. My retirement spreadsheet gave me a high-level view of my plan, and it made it easy to modify paycheck deductions to account for my new goals.
Any significant event in your life, such as a change in income, the addition of new family members, financial gains or losses, or any other, should provoke a financial review to determine whether you are still on track to retire.
Want to build check-ins into your calculations? Consider adding a calendar template to one of the tabs of your workbook.
New Potential Costs You May Need to Consider After Retirement
Retirement also introduces new costs. Here are a few of the most important considerations when planning expenses after retirement. You may want to make a task list as you build your retirement plan. That way you can make sure you account for each of the following once you quit the daily grind.
Health Care Expenses
While health care is often provided by an employer (an absolutely absurd concept, but here we are), retirees need to find their own healthcare. Many Americans become eligible for Medicare, a government health insurance program, once they turn 65. And those who retire early may want to check healthcare.gov to get a plan of their own.
Adding Medigap coverage to Medicare is another option. And if you haven’t already, think about getting long-term care insurance. You will also need to make arrangements if you’re retiring early and aren’t covered by a spouse’s healthcare plan or by retiree medical benefits from your old work employer.
Now that you are retired, you can travel as much as you like. The only thing that can prevent you is money. Remember to include the cost of new hobbies and travel in your budget if you intend to engage in either of these activities.
Discounts on hotels and rental vehicles are frequently available to senior adults. If you’re prepared to stay with friends or trade houses with someone else, there are more intelligent ways to travel on a budget.
Even after you retire, you still need an emergency fund. You will still need to replace broken appliances, restore your car, and do home maintenance. You must have an emergency fund to prevent rapidly blowing through your retirement funds. Make sure you have money set aside in your retirement plan to cover unexpected costs.
In retirement, housing will probably be a significant expense, but there are several ways to cut your monthly housing costs drastically. By paying off your mortgage, you may reduce your monthly payments to only taxes and insurance. On a related note, check out my mortgage calculator. It’s built right into Google Sheets.
Another choice is to move to a substantially less expensive property, freeing up personal savings to boost your retirement fund. Your maintenance and tax costs might be decreased if you move into a smaller home in a less expensive neighborhood.
Although senior individuals frequently qualify for additional tax advantages, some new taxes impact retirees. After age 72, distributions from tax-deferred retirement accounts are necessary to avoid a severe 50% tax penalty.
There are, however, several strategies to remove funds from your retirement accounts and lower your tax liability. If your retirement income exceeds a certain level, a portion of your Social Security payout may also be subject to taxation.
Things a Good Retirement Calculation Spreadsheet Should Include
A good retirement spreadsheet template should include the following:
- Savings that you have currently.
- Your investments and your net worth.
- Your age at the time of retirement or years to your retirement.
- The rate of your yearly withdrawal. This is recommended as 4% and is adjusted for inflation every year.
- Your investment return rate. This shows how much of your investments and your savings return on average over a few years. It is usually recommended at 4-8%.
- Your projected income. This includes needs for your retirement.
- The additional income includes sources like annuities, pensions, and social security.
- The cost of your living
You may also want to consider building a dashboard in Google Sheets to visualize the data in the spreadsheet.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are the questions I hear most frequently about my retirement spreadsheet.
Can I View Different Retirement Scenarios?
Yes, you can edit annual contributions and goals to determine whether you’re on pace for retirement. You can also change the expected return on your investments to account for under- and over-performing market conditions.
What Is the 70% Rule for Retirement?
The 70% rule is a calculation that estimates how long it will take for investments or sums of money to double a specified return rate. The time it takes for your investment to double is calculated by dividing the growth rate from 70. For example, divide 70 by 5 if the rate of growth of your mutual fund is 5%.
How Do I Calculate My Retirement Income in Google Sheets?
The simplest way is to use a ready-made template. That way, you can simply place in your values without knowing all the math behind the calculations. Make your copy here.
Can I Use This Template in Microsoft Excel?
Yes, you can download any of my spreadsheet templates for Google Sheets or Microsoft Excel. That includes this retirement planning template.
Whether you choose to build your own retirement planning spreadsheet or use one of the templates provided, we hope you can get a hold of your finances and enjoy an easy retirement. Please let me know in the comments how you’re saving for your golden years.