Q. I am 59 and plan to retire next year. My independent financial planner says I am good-to-go. But I want to be able to do more projections and track my cash flow, investments, etc. on a monthly basis. My planner has used some professional software to build my plan. I suspect this is more than I would need, but are there other user-friendly applications you would suggest that I could invest in and buy? —B.P., Seattle, WA
A. Before you go all-in on planning software, let me make some suggestions that may keep you from making data entry your new full-time job in retirement. You’ll save a lot of time and effort if you keep your savings and investment information separate from your income and spending information.
The major investing platforms have developed good software for account management. You can put all your accounts onto one statement, check realized or unrealized capital gains, make transfers and do transactions very easily. And at the end of the year they will send you the necessary tax return data. They also keep track of all cost basis information for you. That can be a big deal if you reinvest dividends and interest distributions.
This leaves you with establishing a budget and then monitoring your income and spending. Some people do this with MINT, a free on-line service owned by Intuit. Others use Intuit’s Quicken software. The company has gotten a lot of well deserved criticism for its long delay in providing a fully functional version of Quicken for Apple computers but the new version is very good, if not as feature-loaded as the Windows version. Quicken will allow you to create a budget, estimate your taxes, and track your spending against your income.
Other financial decisions are best explored by using online programs. Since you haven’t signed up for Social Security yet, you might get some help on your Social Security benefit claiming decisions by using Maximize my Social Security (https://www.maximizemysocialsecurity.com) and ESPlannerBasic (https://basic.esplanner.com). You can use ESPlannerBasic free, or you can store multiple results online for a year for $40, or you can use a version of the program with advanced features for $80 a year. The cost for Maximize My Social Security for a household is $40 for a year.
Full disclosure: I have no financial stake in these programs but I have written three books with economist Laurence J. Kotlikoff, the originator of the programs. ESPlanner is what I use for my own financial planning.
Q. My husband and I are comfortably retired and he manages our retirement money very well. So we are able to have some choices. We live in College Station, where we have lived for about 27 years. Both of our sons have children and live in California - one in Los Angeles and one in San Clemente. They are both in their 40's.
They both have asked us to move to California. We hesitate to do that for a few reasons. A big one is that I would never want to put ourselves in the position of being a negative influence in case one of the boys gets a career offer out of California they could not turn down - I would not want them to feel guilty about us moving to CA and then being left there.
So, we are interested in getting something that our two little dogs and we could be comfortable in for several months at a time. I would have never considered a trailer/manufactured home had it not been for your articles. I realize that you were in Florida, but do you have a resource for researching places in southern California? Are there particular sites on the Internet? —D.S., College Station, TX
A. You may be able to find a comfortable 55-plus community at reasonable cost— or at least reasonable for California. The caution here is that Florida prices are a lot lower than California prices. As a Texan, you may suffer sticker shock. The broadest site I have found is MHVillage.com. Register on it and you’ll be able to explore by investor-owned community or by resident-owned community. You’ll also be able to search for units that are for sale and units that are for rent. Resident-owned parks are still rare all around the country, but you can learn more about resident owned parks in California by visiting the website for Resident Owned Parks, Inc. (www.residentownedparks.com).