# Investment returns are uncertain. How much savings do I really need to retire?

A couple posts back, I looked at how much you could spend each year if you retired with 2 million dollars invested at 4%. (Answer: About \$80,000, increasing each year for inflation). But how do you know you can get 4% year-after-year for 30 or 40 years? You don’t. Any investment has good years and … Continue reading Investment returns are uncertain. How much savings do I really need to retire?

# Simple spreadsheets for complex questions

Isn’t it hard to build a spreadsheet to analyze financial issues? Don’t you need to be a math whiz? Don't you need to write complicated formulas into all those cells? No, no, and no! You can do a lot with just addition, subtraction, and multiplication, and Excel will do all the arithmetic for you. The … Continue reading Simple spreadsheets for complex questions

# How much money do I need to retire?

Are you saving enough to retire? That depends on how much you need to have when you enter retirement. Last time I showed you a spreadsheet to help one of my clients amass \$2,000,000 by the time he retires. But will that be enough? We can build a simple spreadsheet that gives you a start on … Continue reading How much money do I need to retire?

# Am I saving enough for retirement?

This is a question I get a lot. A man in one of my classes asked this recently. He was putting \$2000 a month into a 401(k) and planned to work another 30 years. Would you believe that you can answer this question in Excel using only addition, subtraction and multiplication? We can build a … Continue reading Am I saving enough for retirement?

# Pay me now or pay me later

My nephew is looking to lease a solar system for his house. He’s narrowed it down to two options that offer equivalent systems. The question is the pricing structure. One has a low starting monthly payment, which increases each year, and the other has a fixed monthly payment. Which to choose? Here’s a spreadsheet that compares … Continue reading Pay me now or pay me later

# What’s with the dollar signs in Excel formulas?

Ever noticed cell identifiers with dollar signs in them? Things like \$A\$1. Sometimes they’re in formulas. Sometimes you select a cell for a dialog box and it shows you something with dollar signs. What’s that all about? You might try the formulas =A1, =\$A1, =A\$1, and =\$A\$1 and find they all give you the same … Continue reading What’s with the dollar signs in Excel formulas?

# Marry a Millionaire!

Tiffany has met a millionaire looking for a trophy wife. She could quit her job and live in luxury the rest of her life! Should she marry him? Here’s a case where Excel can help to visualize the future. How much can they (she) spend each year? I’ll start building a mathematical model to predict … Continue reading Marry a Millionaire!

# Excel for decision makers or Excel for bean counters?

What the heck kind of a list of Excel essentials is this? Formulas Functions AutoFill “Bucket brigade” formulas Descriptive formulas Naming cells Goal Seek Data tables No charts. No pivot tables. No VBA. No fancy formatting. Nothing about making dashboards or supporting data entry. I’ve just spent the last eight posts without mentioning any of … Continue reading Excel for decision makers or Excel for bean counters?

# Data Tables in Excel: Visualizing the range of possible outcomes

Excel is a great tool for decision makers to ask, “What if?” What happens to the outcome if you change something? Optimize your choice. What happens to the outcome if something beyond your control changes? Prepare for whatever fate might throw at you. Make a spreadsheet to figure the outcome. Change the inputs and see what … Continue reading Data Tables in Excel: Visualizing the range of possible outcomes

# Goal seek: Getting to the outcome you want, using Excel

Microsoft Excel will not only let you play “what-if” with your choices, it will also help you figure out what you need to do to get where you want to be. You can work the problem backwards with a nifty little feature called Goal Seek. Say you want to start a college fund for your … Continue reading Goal seek: Getting to the outcome you want, using Excel