Nationwide, a recent supporter of Blueprint, has produced a tool, with the help from the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, that will ask you a few questions and produce a “RetirAbility Score.” Your RetirAbility score will give you an idea of where you stand from a retirement perspective and it may be a reality check (see the play on words?) if you’re woefully behind on your retirement savings.
So, my thoughts on the tool…
- You’ll need Macromedia Flash 8 and a decently fast computer to run the tool or the videos that you’re forced to watch will play sluggishly.
- The screens of questions are separated by information sections, which means you will need a good 20 minutes to devote to going through this entire process since each new screen will come with a new video. The information screens are useful though because they will give you advice if you’re behind and some statistics so you don’t feel as bad for it.
- If you’re under 35, this tool wasn’t designed for you and you’ll have to pretend you’re 35. This means your RetirAbility score will be off (since you’re showing your assets at 25 but pretending you’re 35). What actually happens is that the guy in the video will tell you that the tool was designed for “folks older than you but certainly not wiser” and if you want to continue you’ll have to pretend you’re 35… which kind of defeats the purpose of this tool, doesn’t it?
- Another gripe I had was a usability issue – there is no way to go back in the tool… so when I first went through I just breezed through it and put in mostly real information (except I put that I had $200k in the bank) and received a skewed score – and I couldn’t go back!
Anyway, so when you start the tool you’ll be queried for basic personal information. After you enter in your basic personal information, you’ll begin entering in information about your financial situation. The five categories are retirement plans (401k, 457, 403b, etc.), assets & debt, Social Security, Housing, and Pension. Most have fewer than five questions and after you answer the questions you will get those informational sections and videos that I thought were helpful.
My R-Score? 155 (with a fictitious $200k in the bank! Everything else was real information) Anyway, how do the scores work? If you score between 0 and 55, you’re in Deep Trouble! Between 55 and 70, you’re categorized as Slow Start. Scoring between 70 and 85 puts you in the On The Way category. 85 to 100 is Almost There and 100+ as a High Achiever. I wish I had $200k in the bank. 🙂
Following the end of the scoring, there is an Improve Your Score button that will give you some ideas of how you can improve your retirement situation. I would be really interested to see what other people found when they used the tool, especially if you’re over 35.
Overall, my feelings on the tool are mixed (because it has value for someone who is older but behind on retirement, it’s just not useful for me or anyoen under 35 really) but I think this has value for folks who are closer to retirement but perhaps haven’t really given it much though. By using the tool you can learn whether you’re ahead of schedule or dangerously behind schedule and what you can do to improve it. They say in the tool that this is a reality check for folks who are close to retirement and I think that has value – unfortunately I’m not in that age range.