NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Retirement planning apps can sometimes be pretty useless, whether they're "How much money do I need to retire?" calculators or "How long will my money last?" tools. It’s the same old issue: garbage in, garbage out. Apps that try to predict your future income often rely on faulty input: your own estimates of where you are today and what you’ll spend in the future.
However, there are some pretty cool apps that you might find helpful in planning your life after work. Rather than getting caught up in financial projections, these tools and Web sites offer actionable information that provide insight -- and perhaps, motivation.
Financial Engines Social Security Planner -- Strategies for maximizing Social Security benefits can be complicated. After all, there are more than 8,000 possible claiming combinations. If you do this and your spouse does this -- and you disclaim this – you can make this amount. Financial Engines has developed a clean, straightforward tool that gives you sample scenarios, without the double talk.
You input in your name, age, income, gender and life expectancy (you can be optimistic and just select "Average") -- as well as your spouse's. The tool will give a ballpark estimate of your benefits (or you can use the estimate provided on your annual Social Security income statement) and then provide some sample strategies on how to maximize your benefits.
It’s graphically appealing and a great way to get at least a high-level view of your options.