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The ultimate retirement planning question is not how much have you saved – it’s how much income you can expect every year once you’ve left the workforce. Of course, you also want to know how long the money will last.

I encourage you to consult a financial planner to test your retirement readiness, but it’s not easy to find someone who will crunch numbers and offer an opinion without also trying to sell you products and services. I’ll have more to say about this in an upcoming column. For now, take a look at a few free online retirement calculators:

1.) The Personal Enhanced Retirement Calculator (PERC): Built by Fred Vettese, a now-retired actuary who has written a book called Retirement Income For Life: Getting More Without Saving More. PERC is meant for people aged 50 and older and designed to work in tandem with the book, but you can easily use it on its own. Answer questions about your financial situation and retirement savings and PERC will show you how much you can spend in retirement, and how you can improve this amount by taking measures like starting your Canada Pension Plan retirement benefits at age 70 instead of the usual 65 or earlier. Another good feature is that you can include your spouse.

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2.) The Retirement Cash Flow Calculator: This one is offered by on GetSmarterAboutMoney.ca, an educational website run by the Ontario Securities Commission. Add personal details about your expenses in retirement and savings and find out the estimated value of your investments at retirement, and how long your money will last.

3.) The Canadian Retirement Income Calculator: The federal government offers this detailed calculator, which does something particularly useful in advising users to gather certain information in advance. Set a goal for your retirement income and then see if you’re close. If not, see what changes can be made to get you where you need to be.

4.) MoneyPages SmartPlanner: Offers a detailed look at your retirement finances, and you can add your spouse as well. See how well your retirement plan could withstand a stock market crash.

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Rob’s personal finance reading list…

10 things you should know about Air Canada

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The Travel Hacking For Canadians website tells you some insider stuff about Air Canada, some of it potentially useful in saving on travel costs.

She put herself on an ‘adult allowance’

Determined to afford travel, this millennial put herself on a daily budget that forced her to evaluate every cent of spending. Her conclusion is that a daily allowance is the way to go if you want to control your finances.

Fix your broken china with milk

Ten weird and wacky non-food uses for household food items. Apparently, a bath of hot milk will repair cracked china. Now for some popular snack foods you no longer need to buy.

Why they ditched the F.I.R.E. movement

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F.I.R.E. stands for financial independence, retire early. It means saving hard so you can pull back from full-time work or retire completely well before age 65. I wrote about my recent visit to a retreat held for F.I.R.E. followers. Here, a blogger writes about why she and her spouse decided F.I.R.E. wasn’t for them.

Ask Rob

Q: My father set up joint brokerage accounts for me and one for each of my siblings. I have long since taken over managing my account, but my sister doesn’t want anything to do with managing hers. My father isn’t getting any younger and he and I have been talking about what to do with the account when he isn’t here to manage it for her. She will likely use it for retirement income in about 10 years. Do you have any recommendations for constructing a couch potato-like portfolio for retirement income?

A: Here’s a thought – help your sister transfer the account to a robo-adviser. She’d get a couch potato portfolio (built with low-cost exchange-traded funds), with a reasonable extra cost for building and managing the portfolio over time.

Do you have a question for me? Send it my way. Sorry I can’t answer every one personally. Questions and answers are edited for length and clarity.

Today’s financial tool

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A handy rundown on the annual contribution limits for tax-free savings accounts, with details on how to find your own personal contribution details.

Podcast of the week

I talk to Bruce Sellery on his Moolala podcast about why teenagers should have credit cards.

What I’ve been writing about

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