eFinPLAN Online Financial Planning Software Review

Kent Irwin, who recently wrote a guest article: Is Suze Orman Right, Can You Be Your Own Financial Planner?, sent me a free license to use his eFinPLAN online financial planning software. In this post, I am going to provide you with my initial experience, and I will follow up with a second post to discuss the 64-page report I received — yes, 64 pages!

eFinPLAN Financial Planning Software

Before I begin, I will share a few things I didn’t like — the interface and usability. It is an old school web site that doesn’t have the crisp Web 2.0 look and feel. Also, I felt the web site navigation could be clearer and more intuitive.

Get Your Financial Planning Report In 10 Easy Steps

Now with the negatives out of the way, let me walk you through the 10 steps I took to get my 64-page personalize financial report.

1. About You

First the software asks for some basic information like names, birth dates, annual income levels, marital status, state of residence, average tax rate (using their marginal and average tax rate calculator), and number of children.

2a. Investment Values

Next the software asks for retirement and non-retirement assets, including what you currently have, and your planned yearly contribution to each. The list includes:

  • Defined contribution plan (i.e., 401k, 403b, 457 and Profit Sharing),
  • Traditional and Roth IRAs,
  • Roth 401k,
  • Annuity,
  • Taxable Investment,
  • Tax free Investment (e.g., municipals), and
  • Savings

2b. Assets and Liabilities

This is part B of step #2 where you’ll have a chance to list additional assets and liabilities

  • Assets — House, autos, personal properties, collectibles, business, real estates, etc.
  • Liabilities — Mortgage, credit cards, auto loans, personal loans, etc.

This step was easy for me because I have been keeping track of these numbers in NetworthIQ, so all I needed to do was transferring the information over.

3. Retirement Benefits

This is where you can enter information about your pension and social security benefits. I don’t have this information handy so I just skipped to the next step.

This is a nice feature since I don’t have to know everything to get started. I can always come back to enter more information to improve my report’s accuracy later.

4a. Your Spending

This step asks for annual living expenses, future large purchases, and special income.

Finding out my annual living expenses would have been difficult since I don’t budget. Luckily, I have my information entered in Mint.com (a free online money management software). To find out my annual living expense I just: log in, go to trend, click on “Past 3 months”, and multiply that number by 4.

I left the future large purchases and special income empty at this point.

4b. Money Habits

This is a “personalize” step where the software asks about:

  • Budgeting Management
  • Spending Habits
  • Money Tools/Technology
  • Relationship
  • Values

Here are some of the answers I chose:

  • I do not use a budget, but I know where my money goes and I have surplus for savings and investments.
  • I do not balance my checkbook each month.
  • I use budgeting software.
  • I use software to help me track investments.
  • I use internet banking and bill paying.
  • We are in harmony with our money decisions. Money is NOT an issue in the health of our relationship.
  • I would like to increase the amount I give to charities or organizations that are important to me.

5. Investment Preferences

Another personalization step that asks you about:

  • Risk tolerance level (i.e., very conservative, conservative, moderate, aggressive, and very aggressive). If you don’t know your risk tolerance level, it gives you a little quiz to help you figure it out.
  • Your level of investment knowledge.
  • Your preferred method of investing.
  • Your investment advisor.

6. Your Insurance

This step asks you about insurances that you have including:

  • Term Life Insurance
  • Whole Life Insurance
  • Long-term Disability Insurance
  • Long-term Care Insurance
  • Property and Casualty Coverage, and
  • More personalization questions about insurance

7. Children’s Education

This step asks questions about your child expected college expenses (in today’s dollar), and the college savings plan that you have in place — i.e., 529, UGMA/UTMA, Coverdell, Savings, Bonds, and other.

8. Your Legacy

I felt bad about this step, because I don’t have any of the important documents listed. These documents include:

  • Basic Documents — Will, Power of Attorney, Guardian named for minor children, and Letter of Instruction
  • Health Care Documents — Living Will and Healthcare Power of Attorney
  • Trusts — Revocable Trusts, Testamentary Trusts, and Irrevocable Trusts

However, I am planning to fix this shortly. I have been meaning to do a review of Suze Orman’s Will & Trust Kit, and this just motivated me to get to the review sooner.

9. Your Advisors

This step asks questions about your current financial advisors and insurance agent (if any). If you don’t have an advisor or an agent (or if you are unhappy with them), you can ask for referrals through eFinPLAN.

10. Assumptions

In this last step, the software asks you about the expected life expectancy of you and your spouse, expected rate of inflation, inclusion of college expenses and expected large purchases, projected expenses as a percentage of current expenses, assumed rates of return, and increase rates of annual contributions.

Finally…A Personalized Financial Planning Report

It took me about an hour to complete the 10 steps above. But it may take you longer depending on how prepared you are with the various information, and your familiarity with your finances.

To get your personalized report, just click on the “Generate Your Report” then “View Your Report”. Viola, a 64-page personalized financial planning report (the number of pages may vary).

After the report, there’s an additional “What if?” step that allows me to tweak my numbers; otherwise, I can always go back and play around with them until I am satisfied.

How To Purchase eFinPLAN Financial Planning Software

If you decide to purchase the eFinPLAN Financial Planning Software, please use this eFinPLAN link and enter the coupon code moola1 to get a 10% discount.

About the Author

By , on Apr 16, 2008
Pinyo is the owner of Moolanomy Personal Finance. He is a licensed Realtor specializing in residential homes in the Northern Virginia area. Over the past 20 years, Pinyo has enjoyed a diverse career as an investor, entrepreneur, business executive, educator, and financial literacy author.

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Leave Your Comment (8 Comments)

  1. kong says:

    I love to have my own financial software and learn how to use them myself and ask questions of those who used/using. When you depend on others, you don’t learn anything and yet, you pay a lot of money to those guys/girls doing your work and also you are not their best interest at heart.

  2. Pinyo says:

    @Bryce – Thank you for your input. It’s good to see a financial planner who used the system sharing his opinion.

    @Make Friends – Even if you have a planner, I think it’s a great preparation tool. Also, the report could be used to aid effective communication.

    @Tom – Agreed.

  3. Tom says:

    Even with a financial advisor. I think something like this would be useful too. At least the report would be a good starting point for a productive conversation.

  4. Jonathan says:

    Sounds interesting, but I think I prefer to talk face to face with my financial advisor and let them do all the hardwork. Will check it out.

  5. As a financial planner, I tested eFinPLAN for my personal data and found the process simple and the reports helpful. It’s the best financial plan value I know of and have encouraged my clients and friends to create a plan using eFinPLAN because it produces the foundational information and stores the plan for future modifications. Except for rare, complex financial scenarios, eFinPLAN is a solid tool for most people at a good price. I recommend you at least try it.

    Bryce Kurfees, Kurfees Capital Management, LLC

  6. Phil says:

    This service doesn’t seem to do anything that MS Money’s “lifetime planner” feature can’t, yet is quite a bit more expensive. Plus, MS Money meets all my other online banking needs too.

  7. Pinyo says:

    @Phil – I’ve never tried MS Money before, I’ll take a look. The only other financial planning software I’ve used is Financial Engines and I feel eFinPLAN is definitely better — although I get FE for free through my employer.

    @Mrs. Micah – It is a lot but that’s how it can provide an in-depth report. I agree with the web 2.0 thing.

  8. Mrs. Micah says:

    That’s certainly a lot of info to input.

    One thing I’ve noticed in my usertesting work is non-Web2.0 sites sometimes leave the impression that they’re not up to speed on other stuff. It’s not a conclusion that makes much sense, maybe they focus their efforts on content, but it’s a strong impression.

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