Nobody's perfect. But many experts say the trouble with so much formal retirement planning is that people think it must be done once and done perfectly. By the time you even begin to think about leaving your career, you might think you should’ve already stashed away a million bucks. But that's not necessarily true.

Retirement planning is a process, not an event. Your retirement plan will require regular tweaking along the way. Such tweaks can help ensure that you have reasonable and achievable savings goals linked to a sound strategy. Online IRA calculators can help you project your earnings at any given point during the process. "It all depends on your age and situation," says John Papa, president of Diversified Planning Strategies, in Caldwell, New Jersey. "It's okay to start out by saving smaller amounts, and to not have a grand plan. The key is to begin thinking about how you can find ways to save more. You don't have to do it perfectly—saving anything is better than saving nothing."

Even just beginning the planning process is helpful because it can provide insights into how saving even a little bit each month can yield tremendous returns down the line. "We tell our clients to use [IRA calculators] to get started looking at the future value of their money," Papa told us. "Plug in the amount of money you want to contribute per year, the interest rate and the number of years you have until you think you'd like to retire." The results can be powerful.

Sites like CalculatorSoup and offer helpful IRA calculators, and Ally Bank has IRA calculators for our IRA products as well. "For example," Papa said, "I just did a calculation for a 30-year-old, contributing $5,000 to an IRA each year, or about $208 per paycheck. Assume that earns an average 5 percent rate of return for 35 years, and by age 65, that person would have $451,601." That kind of math can be very motivating.

And running the numbers through an IRA calculator may make people less likely to make one of the biggest retirement planning blunders: Cashing out a 401(k) when they leave a job. "Because they think it's such a small amount," they make that mistake according to Papa. "But not only do they have to pay taxes on it and a penalty, they lose the chance to have it grow over the years ahead."

Ally Bank Is Here to Help.
Ally Bank has IRA products that can help you meet your goals with just the kind of flexibility that smart retirement planning requires. For example, with the IRA Raise Your Rate CD, you have the option of a one-time rate increase if our 2-Year CD rate goes up; you have the option to increase your rate twice (two times) if our 4-Year CD rate goes up.

Learn more at or call live, 24/7 customer care at 877-247-ALLY (2559).

View IRA Rates