Gone are the days of relying on a financial planner to manage your retirement goals. Today’s financial planning software is more comprehensive than ever before and allows you to manage your own savings from the palm of your hand. A budgeting and financial planning app can help you keep track of your assets and make sure you’re contributing plenty of money to retire on time.
We’ve reviewed some of the best and most popular retirement planning and tracking apps for the Windows, Android, and iOS platforms, along with some tips to help you decide which app is right for your retirement planning needs.
Quick Look: The Best Apps to Track Retirement Funds
What is a Retirement Tracking App?
Retirement planning apps are compact software that allow you to sync data with your savings and checking accounts and 401(k) or IRA provider. This allows you to see all of your finances and investments in a single place and is useful for consumers of all ages and stages in the investing process.
Though most retirement planning apps focus on long-term savings, the best retirement planning apps also offer you a holistic solution to budgeting, planning and saving for both short- and medium-term goals (like buying a car or funding a college education) in addition to retirement.
Retirement planning apps provide a convenient solution that allows you to manage your investments and income from anywhere in the world, which is especially useful if you travel frequently or you work in an industry that does not afford you constant access to a desktop computer. Some retirement management apps also offer desktop compatibility, but many are limited in functionality to the mobile platform.
What to Look for in the Best Retirement Tracking Apps
Full mobile functionality and compatibility
If you’re going to download a retirement planning and calculating app, you’re going to want one that doesn’t cut functionality from its web platform. However, some retirement calculation sites largely limit their apps to viewing-only capabilities.
For example, Vanguard’s app allows you to view your current retirement portfolio, but it does not allow you to buy or sell funds or stocks. If your app offers a desktop platform, make sure it doesn’t water down its app before you download.
Support for multiple financial goals
If you’re like most people, you probably want to save for more things than just a satisfying retirement. Whether you’d like to buy a home one day, fund the purchase of a new car or begin saving for a child’s future college education, you probably have more on your mind besides retirement.
You’ll want to choose an app that takes other goals into account. This is an important characteristic because if your app only supports retirement saving, it will likely overestimate the amount that you can comfortably save and offers you an incomplete picture of your finances.
Most smartphone apps are more vulnerable to hacking and phishing attempts than desktop software and applications because desktop computers have CPU to devote to a comprehensive anti-virus system.
If you’re using a retirement tracking app on your phone, enable a security protocol called two-factor authentication. Two-factor authentication is a security check that will alert you every time someone tries to log into your account from a new I.P. address or zip code.
If you try to log in from a desktop platform, the app will serve you with a unique one-time code via text or email to make sure it’s actually you who’s logging into your account. You’ll also usually have to pass two-factor authentication if you log out on your phone and log back in or if you log in using a new device.
The best retirement planning apps offer to enable two-factor authentication when you create an account or easily through your settings menu.
Few hidden fees
The best retirement calculator apps tell you up front what you’ll be charged. If your retirement app is free and offers additional services and tools for purchase, make sure that you can easily opt in or out of these fees.
The Best Retirement Tracking Apps
Choice 1: Personal Capital
Personal Capital is a comprehensive and powerful one-stop shop for everything related to financial planning. The app offers one of the strongest integration systems available for mobile platforms; you’re able to connect with over 10,000 institutions ranging from major banks like Fidelity and TD Bank to accessory sites like PayPal and Amazon.
This makes it easy for you to see all of your finances and investments in a single, convenient package. Personal Capital offers an impressive range of retirement planning tools including deposit and growth projections, spending analysis and advisory tools.
Personal Capital even functions as a budgeting app; you can link your credit and debit cards after signing up for an account. Personal Capital’s system will analyze your spending and suggest places to cut back so you can put more money toward your goals.
Though Personal Capital is typically classified as a robo-advisor, one of the big draws of the app is access to human financial advisors. If you have over $200,000 under management, the app will assign you two dedicated financial advisors that can assist you in asset planning and purchases. If you have less than $200,000, you will have access to a team of financial advisors who can answer your questions and help you plan your purchases.
Personal Capital is aimed at users with a high net worth; you’ll need to already have at least $100,000 worth of assets to open an account. However, if you are looking for a comprehensive and incredibly compatible retirement planning app, Personal Capital delivers on multiple levels.
Choice 2: Mint
Though Mint bills itself primarily as a personal financial management and budgeting app, the app also allows you to track your investments and save for retirement. Mint’s intuitive and easy-to-use platform allows you to create and work towards multiple goals at the same time, so it’s useful if you’re trying to work your way out of credit card debt or save for a home alongside your ultimate goal of funding retirement.
With Mint, you can import data from your investment profile and checking and savings accounts. Mint will then analyze your spending habits, categorize them and make suggestions on how you can change your behavior to save more towards your goals.
Mint also offers alerts for things like bill due dates, rate changes and large purchases. You can also monitor your credit score through Mint’s app, which can help you see how your savings progress is going.
Mint’s budgeting and planning tools are vast but its investing options are limited. The app works best when used in conjunction with a Mint alternative that focuses less on budgeting and more on investing options. Still, the app is easy to use and can make tracking your retirement progress simple.
Choice 3: Wealthfront
Wealthfront is an automated robo-advising service and app that’s aimed at new investors, younger investors and users who want a more hands-off retirement planning and tracking app. When you deposit funds, Wealthfront will allocate your assets into investments that vary in risk based on your age and tolerance, gradually becoming more conservative as you approach retirement.
Wealthfront offers a host of tools to help you plan and save for retirement that are free to use even if you don’t have an account. You can open a Wealthfront account with as little as $500 and the app supports a range of account types and savings goals. An easy-to-use app, plenty of investment options and a reasonable management fee of 0.25%, Wealthfront is a great option for new and experienced investors to track progress as they move toward retirement.
One of Wealthfront’s most unique tools is its 529 college savings plan projector, which can help you open a college savings account for a child, estimate how much money you’ll need to cover a chosen percentage of your child’s college costs the year that he or she graduates high school and helps to keep you on track with your savings. If one of your major goals is to save for a child’s education, Wealthfront should top your list of financial planning apps.
Choice 4: Wealthsimple
Wealthsimple is a relatively new retirement planning app that focuses on low fees, reasonable account minimums and a focus on technical simplicity. True to its name, the company’s app offers a clean design, which allows you to visualize your retirement progress with graphs and charts.
There is no account minimum needed to open a Wealthsimple Basic portfolio, and even Basic users are allowed one free phone call with a financial planner to help ensure that you’re on the right track.
In addition to Wealthsimple’s simple retirement planning app, the company also offers a unique and diverse range of investment options aimed at nontraditional investors and younger investors who would like a more unique profile option.
Investors who want to create a more socially responsible retirement account can choose to invest in one of three weighted socially responsible indexes. Each of these indexes draws from six ETFs that invest in technology firms that research cleaner energy, corporations that employ diverse hiring practices and companies dedicated to fair-trade practices with developing nations.
If you are a follower of the Islamic faith, Wealthsimple also offers “halal investing” options. Halal portfolios are reviewed by a third-party council of experts in the Islamic faith and exclude investments in companies that engage in forbidden practices or products (like tobacco, alcohol, and firearms).
Halal portfolios also exclude the purchase of bonds, as Islamic law dictates that followers may not own interest-accruing assets. These unique investing options make Wealthsimple a viable retirement option.
Choice 5: Vanguard Retirement Nest Egg Calculator
Are you getting closer to retirement? Do you need less assistance with long-term planning and more help determining if your current portfolio will have enough money to cover your needs? The Vanguard Retirement Nest Egg Calculator is a free online app that analyzes current retirement savings to determine the probability that you’ll have enough money to cover your retirement expenses.
Note that this is not the Vanguard mobile app that is available in most smartphone stores, but a supplementary calculator available on Vanguard’s website.
The Nest Egg Calculator is simple and straightforward. It offers a Monte Carlo analysis to let you know whether your retirement funds will be enough to last throughout your golden years. Best used in combination with another retirement planning app, the Nest Egg Calculator can give you a financial “check-up” to ensure that your last few years before retirement are as proactive as they need to be.
It’s impossible to say which app is the “best” for retirement tracking and planning because each offers a unique focus designed for a specific user. If you need help with budgeting and finding money to put away, Mint might be the best choice for you.
If you are just a few years away from retirement, the Nest Egg Calculator will give you the peace of mind that comes with knowing you’ve been saving correctly. Watch a few YouTube app tutorials to get a more intimate look at the functionality of an app before you make a commitment.