When it comes to planning for your retirement, most people don't know where to start, so they put it off. When they realize that retirement is on the horizon, they panic and start searching for retirement planning tools that will create a plan for them. Some people hire expensive firms to develop a plan for them, and others might buy complicated software to help develop a plan. While there is a place for this type of assistance to help you with retirement planning, there are also free tools that you can use to get started right away. Here are three free tools that will help you plan for your retirement.

1. Pen and Paper- This is the simplest tool you can use, and the one that will make the biggest difference in planning for your retirement. Creating a list of all your income and expenses, and keeping track of where your money goes is the first step in finding out how much you can save for retirement. If you create this list, and find that you have nothing left when you subtract your expenses from your take home income, then it is time to give some serious thought to your budget. See if you can find several areas to cut back to save money to put into your retirement fund.
2. Your Workplace- Most people have forgotten the speech they received from the human resources department when they were hired. The one about benefits, pensions, savings plans and all of that. This is a great time to either pull out your employee handbook, or make an appointment to meet with someone in the personnel office. You will find lots of information about what is offered through your workplace, and how you can become eligible to receive the maximum benefits when you retire. Many places also have local investment firms that help their employees with decisions and offer assistance for retirement planning. This is like getting the best investment advice free.
3. The Internet- There are many retirement planning tools available free on the internet. The AARP website offers tools to help you figure out how much your retirement plans will cost in real world dollars. CNN Money has free retirement planning tools that can help you calculate investments, income, savings, and retirement goals. There are also many investment and banking sites that offer free help and tools to help you build a solid retirement plan.

These three tips will help you start planning your retirement. Set aside some time each week to work on ways to increase your retirement savings, and to dream about the kind of retirement you want to have. Use these free retirement planning tools to help you increase your retirement savings so you can have the stress-free retirement you deserve

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