FAQs (topics are arranged by category, all topics are clickable)

Purchasing RW2 for YOU

What is the price? Will it change?

Current pricing information is available on this page. While prices for new customers may vary from time to time, you can lock in a lower renewal price now. When you purchase RW2 for YOU™ for one year, you guarantee yourself that you can renew the following year at no more than one-half of the initial price. After that, renewal prices may increase along with inflation, but there will be no big price jumps from year to year.

We charge less for renewals, partly because it costs us less to support you once you are familiar with the software, but also to encourage you to renew. No one can create a retirement plan for you that is permanent. Life will not work out the way anyone estimates that it might. So it is very important for you to update your plan frequently Ė ideally at least once a year. And especially if there is some major change in your life, your health, or your finances. But even when there is no big change, the fact that you have lived another year, and that other smaller changes have undoubtedly occurred, means that your plan will drift off course somewhat. If you let this keep happening, eventually your plan may become quite inappropriate. So we want you to make it economical for you to keep it current.

How do I order the software?

The easiest way to order is to use our online order form. You can find it here.

Can I pay by check?

Yes, if you prefer. Send your check, made out to RetirementWORKS, Inc. for the currently advertised price to: RetirementWORKS, Inc., 69 Lancaster County Rd., Harvard, MA 01451. Please make sure to send us your name, address, phone number, and email address. Your email address will become your User ID. If you would like to choose your own password, send that along as well (otherwise we will assign you one ourselves). After we receive your check, we will create an account for you and notify you by email.

Can I get a version to install on my computer at home?

Not yet, but we expect to have such a version available later this year. If you want to know more about it, contact us at Help@RetirementWORKS2.com.

Why is it important to renew every year?

No one can create a retirement plan for you that is permanent. Life will not work out the way anyone estimates that it might. So it is very important for you to update your plan frequently Ė ideally at least once a year. And especially if there is some major change in your life, your health, or your finances. But even when there is no big change, the fact that you have lived another year, and that other smaller changes have undoubtedly occurred, means that your plan will drift off course somewhat. If you let this keep happening, eventually your plan may become quite inappropriate. An obsolete plan is not necessarily better than no plan at all.

What happens when itís time to renew?

We will notify you by email, about one month ahead of time.

Can I get a refund if I am dissatisfied?

Yes, if you request it within 30 days of when your RW2 for YOU™ account is first set up. You do not need any particular reason to cancel your account. If you want the refund, just let us know, and you will receive it. However, you will not be able to sign up for RW2 for YOU™ again in the future.

Refunds after 30 days are generally not granted. But if you have a special situation, let us know, and we will try to accommodate you.

Is my financial data private and secure?

Considerable effort is made to assure that any data you provide is secure. For more information on this topic, see this page.


Logging in

What if I canít connect to the site?

Try connecting to another website (preferably one that provides news or other content that changes frequently) to see if you are able to connect with other sites. If you can, the problem may be at our end. This does not happen frequently, but it can happen from time to time. Normally, we suggest that you want for a little while and try again to rule out network issues. If you still cannot connect, notify us at Help@RetirementWORKS2.com and we will resolve the situation.

What if I have forgotten my password?

Notify us at Help@RetirementWORKS2.com, and we will email you your password. Please provide us with your user id.

What if I want to change my ID or password?

Email us at Help@RetirementWORKS2.com, provide your current ID and password. We will make the change and send you a confirmation.


Alternative cases

Can I set up an alternative case without purchasing a separate account?

In general, no. Alternative cases are too easily used to illustrate another person or family altogether. The only exception to this rule is if you are trying to illustrate an Early Retirement Offer (see below).

What if I want to illustrate an Early Retirement Offer?

If you have received an early retirement offer, two cases need to be entered. The first case should be the status quo: assuming you reject the offer and keep your current job. It is important that, on the Welcome screen, the early retirement offer be specified as the reason for using the system. Note that more detailed instructions can be requested directly from that screen (in PDF format, so you will need Adobe Reader installed to read it).

Once the first case is complete, notify us at Help@RetirementWORKS2.com, and we will set up a second case for you (with its own ID and Password). The Welcome screen for the second case will automatically indicate the connection with the first case. The second case should then be modified to reflect whatever would be different if the early retirement offer is accepted. Note that if a severance bonus is being paid, we recommend that this be entered as a new one-month "job" in the Income segment of the input process Ė this will assure that Social Security and income taxes are handled appropriately, which would not be the case if the bonus were entered as a miscellaneous income item.

Special reports comparing the two cases are available, but only from the second case. Some adjustments to report selection are made automatically when the second case is set up, so you should review these. You may also select cash flow reports from either case to appear as part of the output for the second case.


Entering data

Why is so much data being asked for? What will be done with it?

Your situation is unique, and in order to produce a plan that has a very good chance of working well for you, we need to ask for a lot of information. Some of it may seem unimportant, and in your case, some of it will indeed be unimportant. But the same question for someone else could be extremely important. Until you answer the questions, we donít know which questions are the important ones.

Our philosophy is that planning is critically important for retired people, because once you are retired, you have fewer options if your financial plans donít work out. You wonít be able to go back and get that good-paying job you used to have. Depending on your age and health, you might not be able to work at all. So special care is needed in making financial plans for retirees. And unless you provide pretty detailed information, odds are that whatever plan you get wonít be very good.

Can I change the purpose for using the system, on the Welcome page?

Yes, you can. In some cases it will make little difference, but in others it will make quite a bit of difference, so we encourage you not to play with this arbitrarily. Choose the item that best fits your situation.

In particular, you should be aware that if you select the last item, that you want to review previous data entered, the system will take you through the entire input process over again. All of your previously entered data will still be there, but you will have to step through the pages one by one. This is the proper thing to do if you are coming back, say, for an annual review. But you can do it at other times, if you just want to check everything again. Then you can go back to the Welcome screen again at the end and reset the Purpose back to its original value.

Can I switch between the faster and the slower mode, on the Welcome page?

Yes, but it is not advisable to go back and forth. Some of the information used in the two methods is common to both, but in other areas (especially regarding assets and debts), the information is asked and stored in very different ways, and you may confuse matters by trying to go back and forth. In general, it is better to go from the faster method to the slower and more detailed method, but either can be done, in principle. In either case, though, you will be required to go through the entire input sequence again, to make sure that all the appropriate information is captured.

Can I switch between the conceptual and the numeric mode, on the Welcome page?

Yes. This kind of switch has much less consequence than the switch between the faster and slower input method.

How do I save my data?

You never have to worry about this. Every time you hit the "Next" button your entries are automatically saved.

How do I go back to change earlier inputs?

As you proceed through the input pages, you may notice that the navigation links in the side-bar at the left continue to increase in number. Essentially, every input page you have already used should be listed there. (They are in groups, however, and if a [+] sign appears next to an entry, you can click on it to open up the details in that section.) When you click on one of the links to a previous page, you will be taken to that section, and you can make changes. If the section you choose has more than one page Ė as will often be the case Ė then you will be taken through each page in the section. Then when you click "Next" you will be returned to the place you had previously advanced to. But if you had already got to the end of the input process, and you go back to any page having to do with expenses, assets, or income, you will first see the summary page for one or more of those topics, so you can do a reality check first.

How do I delete individual assets, debts, job information, and other items that no longer apply, or were entered incorrectly?

The best way to do this, usually, is to use the navigation links in the side-bar at the left to return to the section in question. Then, for each item you want to delete, click on the "Delete this [item]" checkbox that appears at the top of the part that applies to that item. When you then click "Next", that item will have been deleted. If you want to delete all the items in one section, you can usually do that by entering a zero as the "Number of [items]"Ē at the top of that section. But you canít reduce the number of items from, say, three to two by changing that number, because it wonít know which of the three to delete Ė if you try it, that entry will be ignored. You still will need to check the appropriate "Delete" box for the item you want to eliminate.

Can I skip ahead?

No. Which later pages appear, and which questions appear on many pages, often depend on the way you answered earlier ones. The input pages appear in a logical sequence, and we require that you follow that order. Once you have been through the entire input series once, however, you can skip back randomly to earlier pages.

How do I enter information about pensions?

The word "pensions" is tricky. There are two kinds of pension plan. The first are "defined benefit" plans, which are mostly old-fashioned plans that do not report ongoing balances to you, but pay you a regular (usually monthly) income after you retire. The second kind is the "defined contribution" plan, like a 401(k) plan, where you and/or your employer contribute money every year, which builds up an account you can do what you want with when you retire.

In RW2 for YOU™, when we refer to "Pensions", we always mean employer-sponsored pensions. Social Security is actually a form of defined benefit pension, but we deal with it separately, and donít call it that. An annuity, where you pay money in and at some point you can choose to start receiving a monthly benefit for life, could also be called a kind of pension (or conversely, a defined benefit pension can be called a kind of annuity), but we keep these terms distinct. In RW2 for YOU™, an annuity is a financial product that is privately purchased. A pension is a retirement plan that is provided under the auspices of an employer.

Traditional (defined benefit) pensions, as mentioned above, usually have no asset balances associated with them. Your employer promises to pay you a certain amount after you retire, and thatís all you have: a promise for future income. We therefore consider these pensions to be a form of income, and we ask about it in the Income segment of the input process.

401(k), 403(b), and other similar "defined contribution" plans have asset balances, and except for their special tax treatment and other rules, they are much like other kinds of retirement savings. So even though your access to those accounts may be temporarily restricted, we consider them to be assets, and we ask about them in the Assets segment of the input process, under the name "Employer-sponsored retirement plans".

Sometimes, 401(k) and similar plans offer the option of your taking your money in the form of a lifetime annuity, which makes it work more like a traditional (defined benefit) pension. If your plan offers such an option, and you want to consider taking it, you can check off the appropriate box when you enter information about the plan, if you are using the slower, more detailed input method (only). If you do check that off, you will be asked automatically during the Income/Pension input part about what specific options are being offered to you under this plan.

What if I have been widowed or divorced since the last run?

Any time there has been a lapse of 60 days or more since you last used the software, you will be asked (if you have a spouse or other partner) whether anything has changed. Specifically, you will be asked whether you have been widowed, divorced, or separated, and you will be asked whether you are the same person who originally entered the information as the "client". If you say that either or both has changed, the system will automatically make numerous adjustments to the data, and will require you to go through the entire input process from the start. The original information, if it is still relevant, will still be there, but as just mentioned, some will be changed or even deleted, if it is presumed to be no longer applicable. But one cannot always make assumptions about such things. So it is even more important, in such situations, for you to review the input information carefully and make whatever changes are needed.

Is there an easy way to revisit all of the input pages again in sequence?

Yes. Go back to the Welcome page (i.e., the first input page where you entered your own name), and in the section under your name, where you indicate why you are using the software, change it to say that you are there to review your information (the last item in the list). Then hit the "Next" button. This will reset the system so that it knows you want to review all of the input pages. Once you have left the Welcome page, you can immediately go back if you want to, and reset your purpose to the original purpose. The software will remember that you still want to review all the input pages.


Printing reports

Can I get a different kind of report, besides the Report Card?

When all your inputs are complete, and you have OKíd the asset and income summaries, a variety of report options will appear in the navigation side-bar at the left side of the screen. (They will also appear on the Summary of Results page).

Click on "Reports: Selection" in the side-bar to get to the Report Selection page. At the top of that page, you can use the check box to get rid of the Recommendations page altogether, if you wish. Or if you just prefer not to see the "Report Card" labeled as such, but would rather see results ranked on a 0-thru-10 scale, or on a 5-star ranking system, you can select these options there.

How do I get cash flow projections of different kinds?

When all your inputs are complete, and you have OKíd the asset and income summaries, a variety of report options will appear in the navigation side-bar at the left side of the screen. (They will also appear on the Summary of Results page).

Click on "Reports: Selection" in the side-bar to get to the Report Selection page. In the middle of that page, you will find options to select up to five different cash flow projections. If your reports are illustrating more than one Plan, you can choose which Plan is being illustrated for each cash flow report. You can also select the scenario for each report. Finally, you can choose among four kinds of reports: the Cash Flow Summary, which is the principal report, or detailed reports for Assets/Debts, Income, or Expenses.

If you indicated on the Welcome page that you are a numbers kind of person, you will get a Cash Flow Summary report by default, but you can turn it off (or ask for more of them!) if you like. If you indicated that you are more of a conceptual person, you will not get any cash flow reports by default, but you can ask for them if you want them, using the method just described.

How do I specify that calculations are to be done as of a certain date, so it doesnít recalculate everything every day?

When all your inputs are complete, and you have OKíd the asset and income summaries, a variety of report options will appear in the navigation side-bar at the left side of the screen. (They will also appear on the Summary of Results page).

Click on "Reports: Selection" in the side-bar to get to the Report Selection page. Near the bottom of that page, you will find an option to select an ďas ofĒ date. The system will then continue to do calculations as if you were running it on that date, rather than on the date currently on your computer clock.

Keep in mind, though, that the system itself keeps changing. We make improvements to it, and we also have to update it to reflect current tax rules, nursing home costs, Social Security rates, and other factors. The calculations always use the current values for such items, so your "as of" calculation still might not match one that you did previously. If you want to compare reports with and without certain adjustments, you need to make sure that the version number of the system is the same. The version number appears in the heading of the final section of the Explanatory Notes.

Can I suppress the Explanatory Notes?

No. They include important explanations and disclaimers. Please take the time to read them.


Interpreting the results

What do the scores in the report card mean?

The scoring mechanism differs depending on what options you choose on the Report Selection page. The meaning of the grades or other values that show on the Report Card are described in the Explanatory Notes for your report.

However, the ratings should not be taken overly seriously. If we could actually predict the future, they would have more solid value. As it is, they are only an indication of how things look right now, given a lot of assumptions that almost certainly will not come true exactly as illustrated. This is why, regardless of the grade or rating you receive, you should revisit your plan periodically Ė ideally at least once a year, plus whenever a major change happens in your life, health, or finances.

Also keep in mind that the results will be only as good as the information you enter. There is a lot of information being requested, and so there is a lot of room for innocent mistakes. We encourage you to print out the Input Assumptions report, and to review it carefully, to make sure that the software is using the right information.

Iím not sure I understand what all the recommendations mean.

Your first recourse should be to look at the Explanatory Notes. These notes contain a page or two of general information about how to read the report, and what some of the underlying assumptions are. In addition, any recommendation that is not completely self-explanatory is further described in subsequent notes. In general, you will find these very helpful.

Sometimes the notes refer you to further information available in the "Extended Help" section of the "System Help". These references are to write-ups that are usually several pages in length, and that provide much more detailed information, on a variety of topics. To find them, click "System Help" near the upper left corner of the RW2 for YOU™ window. A separate Help window will appear. Click on "Extended Help" and an alphabetical list of topics will appear. Select the one you want, and if you like, use the printer icon to print out a hard copy.

How do I implement the recommendations in the plan?

There is no simple answer to this question. Some of them you can handle on your own, if you wish. Some require specialized knowledge, and so you can take care of them yourself if you have that knowledge, or else go to a suitable professional advisor for assistance. Some, like the purchase of certain insurance products, or the drafting of legal documents, almost always require outside help. Issues dealing with employee benefits will have to be handled with the benefits office of your employer or former employer. But you will generally get better, and sometimes less expensive, help if you know what to ask for going in.

What if I donít want to implement the recommendations? Can I get a report that leaves some of them out?

Generally, yes. When all your inputs are complete, and you have OKíd the asset and income summaries, a variety of report options will appear in the navigation side-bar at the left side of the screen. (They will also appear on the Summary of Results page). Select the "Reports: Edit details" option to review specific recommendations and turn them off, if you like.

For a detail item that has only two options (a yes/no sort of recommendation), turning it off will usually be interpreted by the software as an indication that you want the opposite recommendation to be made. Turning off an item that has multiple possible alternatives, however, will generally be interpreted as an instruction not to display that recommendation at all, although the calculations may still silently assume that the original recommendation is being followed.

In most cases, though, it is better to implement the recommendations rather than override or ignore them.


How the calculations are done

Are recommended actions assumed to be taken, when cash flows are illustrated or when grades are assigned?

In most cases, yes. When there are exceptions, these will usually be noted.

The most common exception occurs when specific assets are recommended for sale or reallocation. These are only guidelines and starting points for your decision, because there are factors you probably need to consider that we donít know about, or that will change significantly from year to year. So we do not assume a specific order of sale among individual assets. Instead, we assume that all taxable and miscellaneous assets are liquidated first, if necessary, then tax-deferred assets, then tax-free assets. Usually the family home is assumed to be sold last, unless you indicate that you specifically intend to sell it at a certain time.

Another recommendation that is often made but is not assumed to occur during the calculations is the disposal of life insurance policies that have cash values. Again, you may have private reasons for wanting or needing to keep your existing policies, so as long as you indicate that you still own them, we will assume that you will continue to do so in the future, even if we suggest that you donít.

Can I change the assumed rate of return on investments, inflation rates, etc.?

No. You canít change them in real life, so you canít change them in our software. In particular, we donít want to promote the illusion that you can improve your financial situation by making more favorable assumptions. Our job is to help you make realistic plans based on historically realistic assumptions, which is what our software uses. But there are lots of ways to fudge your input information if you feel you need to be either more optimistic or more pessimistic.

How are taxes calculated?

Federal taxes are calculated using tax laws currently in existence, including reasonably predictable future changes. But this is not tax filing software, and your actual taxes may be considerably different in reality, especially if you have unusual tax issues. We do estimate certain tax deductions (such as mortgage interest, real estate taxes, state income taxes, and charitable contributions), and we will estimate capital gains taxes on the sale of a home and the sale of taxable investments. We also estimate tax exemptions. But again, these estimates can go only so far, especially as they apply to future years.

State taxes are estimated using state income tax withholding formulas, which again, may or may not be accurate in your situation. Many states tax different kinds of income in different ways, and we currently do not take these into account. Estimates of local real estate or income taxes are based on what you enter as current expenses. Finally, if you work in a state other than where you reside, we will estimate state taxes for each state.

Why is my home shown being sold, or not being sold?

In general, the software will assume that your home is not sold unless you run out of all other assets. However, if you have indicated that you yourself intend to sell your home in a certain year, the software will illustrate it that way. It will also assume (if you are using the more detailed input method) that mortgages associated with that home are paid off when the home is sold.

These rules are followed even if the recommendations in the main part of the report, or in the optional report on "Assets for Sale or Re-Allocation", suggest that your home is a good candidate for sale. Even though your home may perhaps not be a good financial investment, people have strong feelings about their homes, so, again, the calculations do not assume that it actually is sold unless there are no other assets available, or unless you yourself have specified it.

I was offered a manual review of my case. How do I request it?

Just send us an email at Help@RetirementWORKS2.com to let us know that youíre ready. It usually takes several business days for us to do the work, and weíll let you know if it looks like it will take longer than that. This is a time-consuming process, and workloads can be irregular.


Dealing with Error messages

I got a "Server Error" message with a lot of gobbledygook. What do I do?

The first thing you should do is try again. Use your link to the Sign In page, to log yourself back in. If all is well Ė which is the normal situation Ė you will be returned to same place where you left off, and you can just proceed from there.

If you continue to get an error, please send us the error message you are receiving (you should be able to highlight the whole thing, use Ctrl-C to copy it to the Windows clipboard, open up an email, and use Ctrl-V to paste the error into the body of the email). Send it to Help@RetirementWORKS2.com. We will look at the problem as quickly as possible and get back to you with an explanation and a fix.

I got a red error message in the upper right corner, but I canít get it to go away.

The red messages are intended to indicate a simple error on your part. Usually, they match up with a red marker somewhere on the input page (you might have to scroll down to see where). In most cases, the error will be obvious: you omitted a necessary item, you entered a number that was too big or too small, or you entered a word or letter where a number was expected. If you fix the item (or items) in question, then hit ďNextĒ again, all should be well, and you will be sent along to the next page.

If this just isnít working for you (which rarely happens), send an email to Help@RetirementWORKS2.com. We will look at the problem as quickly as possible and get back to you.

Iím not getting an error message, but my data seems messed up, and I canít fix it. What do I do?

Email us at Help@RetirementWORKS2.com. We will assess your situation and correct it if possible. Either way, we will contact you and let you know where the issue stands.


Getting further help

Is there help online?

Yes, there is quite extensive help. There are two links near the upper left corner of the RW2 for YOU™ window. The one labeled "System Help" will open up the general help for the system. It is organized by topic and sub-topic, and you can also use the search and index functions to find information. The "Extended Help" section, under "System Help", also contains write-ups on various topics of financial interest, which you might want to explore.

The other link near the upper left corner is "Page Help". This link will open up a Help window with information relating to the input page you are currently looking at. This is usually the fastest way to get further explanations about what the software is asking you for.

How do I contact you for further help?

The best way is to email us at Help@RetirementWORKS2.com. This creates a written trail for your request, and saves you the frustration (and expense, in some cases) of waiting on Hold until we can get to you. We make a point of responding to emails quickly, almost always within 24 hours, and usually much sooner than that. Even if we donít have a complete answer right away, we will acknowledge your request and let you know when we expect to have more information for you.

Want to know more about RW2 for YOU™?

  What does it do?

  What doesnít it do?

  How difficult is it to use?

  Is your information private?

  How does it differ from other software?

  See the video walkthrough

  What the critics say