Recommended for financial planning:

ESPlanner Basic

Most personal finance apps that I’ve seen were written by computer geeks. Their user interfaces are slick. Their technological capabilities are impressive. But the actual advice that the dole out? Not so much. I suspect that’s because their expertise comes from tech, and they either don’t have a financial wiz on their teams or they don’t listen to him or her enough.

That’s not the case with ESPlanner, which was actually written by Boston University economics professor Laurence Kotlikoff. Just last year, he decided to offer a version of his software for free online, and it’s well worth checking out. It’s sophisticated stuff and is probably very similar to the software a hired financial planner would use behind the scenes before presenting you with a plan.

Is it a complete substitute for the paid guys? Hard to answer. Did tax software like TaxCut eliminate the need for tax preparers? But it’s definitely a great tool if you don’t pay a financial planner or want to check behind him. I don’t work with Kotlikoff, but I have read his book.


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