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Thanks so much for the detailed testing and feedback nmgyrl! This represents a lot of effort, dedication, and thought on your part, and we appreciate it. Glad the app was easy to use and mostly intuitive.
I’ll try to reply to most of your other points now, but will need to let a few sit for later:
Asset classes are required input for setting the asset allocation in accounts. So it seems to us that the asset class section belongs before accounts. But we’ll see what other users think about that…
The Pro calculator is a general purpose modeling tool. We seed it with some sample events, but there are many different ways that somebody could model their situation. However, depending on what kind of users we get, we may need to do more in the way of providing built-in structure.
Yes, the account specified for events such as the Withdrawal event is the account to *start* taking withdrawals from. Once that account balance is zero, the program works its way up the built-in account sequence.
The model produces a high-fidelity view of your cash flow in retirement. It is currently up to the user to then optimize that cash flow to their purposes. Over time we may add some automation to that process, but this is the initial release of a very inexpensive app so expectations should be modest.
The Cash Flow report would benefit from more columns with intermediate values. This is high on our task list after v1.0
We did our best to follow Android standards when they were clear. But they were surprisingly unclear (and buggy) in a number of scenarios. I’ve logged several of your comments in our tracking system for consideration in evolving our user interface.
Unfortunately, we sweated bullets to save everything immediately, without OK/Cancel, which we didn’t perceive to be the Android standard. We’ll see what other users say now. 🙂
As far as I know, we don’t have much control over that focus red line, the edit keyboard, or underlying scrolling. I believe those are Android system services. But my co-developer may be able to expand on this.
I miss the commas too. I believe they were a validation headache in data entry, but let’s see how much other users want them.
True context-sensitive help is high on our task list. The help system is currently formatted for it, but the program just isn’t jumping into the specific subsections yet.
Good suggestion on entering event names at creation time. It’s been added to our list!
We have not seen any repeatable app crashes here. Obviously these are bad and we’d like to get to the bottom of them. Reports should come straight to our support address, but my co-developer will need to confirm that. At this stage, we’d be most interested in the steps to duplicate, if possible.
You are entirely right that editing asset class returns directly would be highly desirable. The current design has usability implications that we don’t like, but it just wasn’t possible to change late in the game. It is high on the list for a future release. Meanwhile it is possible to change account returns fairly quickly by setting up alternative asset classes and swapping them into the asset allocations.
We have the capability internally for users to create any number of their own arbitrary account types. But for simplicity and because this is an inexpensive app, it’s one area we haven’t exposed yet. We may add it in a future release, or make it an add-on feature.
We will keep working on documentation. We are already drifting into giving modeling/financial advice and we’ll have to decide how far we can afford to go with that. It is generally true, since the program includes sophisticated tax calculations, that users don’t need to consider taxes when entering events.
We already handle a state/local effective tax rate internally, but it simply isn’t exposed in the user interface. We’ll make that a higher priority.
User-defined account withdrawal order is another feature that is available internally but not yet exposed in the user interface. You make a good case for why it needs to be there sooner, than later.
There is plenty of work we could do to improve the Log. It started life as internal debugging tool, but hopefully will be an increasingly useful report to users. Thanks for the detailed suggestions. All placed on our task list.
Unless and until we provide automated cash flow optimization (again this is currently an inexpensive app), the program’s events provide significant power for personal customization. For example, Transfer events, using the Percent Amount Type, should allow for some control over investing excess RMDs from the Cash account.
And for more in-depth usage, check out the worked example video, also on YouTube.
And for more in-depth usage, check out the worked example video, also on YouTube.
Thanks for the feedback BruceG. Very helpful, and duly noted!
Persistence issues have been addressed in the latest beta builds. Your input data changes should now be saved and restored in all scenarios, including restarting your device. But note that if you uninstall the apps, your data will be deleted.
- This reply was modified 3 years, 5 months ago by darrowk.
Thanks so much. We really appreciate that you used both calculators and then took the time to send us detailed feedback. Being an early user of software can be a bit painful, but the feedback is invaluable to us developers. Often we are 90% of the way there, and just need the insights of real users new to the software to get us the rest of the way.
I’ll excerpt your email and reply below….
>> The maximum account amounts is a bit limiting, Perhaps this is to push some into the pro ver? <<
None of those are hard limits, they are just suggested ranges. You can long-press the label of any input field to type in a number directly, which can be larger than the displayed limits.
>> I found the default ad space at bottom center of UI to be distracting, especially on smaller screens. It may impact some trying to use the sliders. <<
Ok, we haven’t seen conflicts on any of the devices we’ve tested so far. Since this software represents 1-2 man years of effort already, and we’re giving it away for free, we will keep the ads. But we may provide a cheap paid option to turn them off eventually.
>> When retirement expenses are too high, the ‘Work Income Needed to Retire’ selection displays an error: <unable to find a solution> <<
Yes, in our latest update, we now display a message with a better explanation of that situation for users .
>> where are you suppose to put in how much per year you need to live on? <<
That is in the Expenses section. We have improved the naming of the input fields in the latest update: “Pre-Retirement/Retirement Annual Living Expenses”, for example.
>> Perhaps step them through it <<
Clearly we need too. I’m working up a short video to do just that. Thanks for the suggestion!
>> show them how much they can likely spend based upon those parameters <<
That would be a new option in our Find bar. I’ve added it to our wish list. Thanks for the suggestion.
>> Pre-retirement expenses…not sure it’s purpose? <<
Those are your annual pre-retirement living expenses. If you are already retired, or near retirement, they would not have much effect on the simulation.
>> Confused over how I input my retirement expenses. <<
That would be a new Withdrawal event, which sounds like you may have figured out eventually.
>> Suggest you perhaps display a dialog/text on background if it’s blank to help, or just have a default $0 Withdrawal. (hourglass or … or just a ‘Please wait’) <<
All potentially good suggestions, thanks. We’ll be watching to see what other users experience. We’ll also be doing more videos to show how to input data for different situations.
>> use the standard version, but I do see how millenials might (if you hold their hand through the input process) <<
That’s a good assessment of our audience for the Free version. Better documentation will be important. We are working on the user interface and preparing videos, and have already made progress.
>> I am currently retired and most of my income is in the form of dividends plus some from quarterly LLP (real estate). <<
The best way to model this is in the asset allocation of your portfolio. There are some simple built-in asset classes. But you can define your own (NEW in Asset Classes), then reference them in your Accounts to specify their Asset Allocation. Every asset class has an annual dividend return % that you specify, and our calculations handle taxation of that and all other annual income correctly according to your tax bracket, including capital gains, Social Security, and RMDs too. Very few retirement calculators have this capability.
>> online calculators they are a bit intimidated both by the terminology and the plethora of options … it has to be pretty darn simple and step them through the input or none of my neighbors would use it. <<
You’ve put your finger on our challenge, precisely! I can say at the present time our calculators are the most accurate and powerful on Android by far. But we have more work to do making them easier to use. Thanks again for the detailed feedback!
Thanks for the feedback. We appreciate the time you invested. This is an initial release, targeted at mobile devices. Some of the capabilities you mention are either planned or already in the works for future releases.
I’ve written extensively on the tradeoffs between Monte Carlo, historical, and average return analysis. After all is said and done, I’m not sure that simple average return (as used in this initial release) isn’t the best starting point for most people, most of the time.
While we also plan to do a better job with user guidance (documentation, wizards, etc.), it is not possible for anybody to prepare an accurate retirement plan without a great deal of information on investments, pensions and SS. We do offer some important features that FIRECalc lacks including unlimited financial events and detailed federal tax calculations.
Thanks again for the testing.