A Retirement Calculator for Canadians, and You too

One of our Canadian Mr. Money Mustache readers with alias Herbert Salisbury sent me a rather fancy spreadsheet the other day, which he created to plan his own early retirement.

Mr. Salisbury in real life is a somewhat incognito software designer currently making video games in Vancouver, but known worldwide on the hacker scene for neat music and programming tools dating back to about 1990.

This time, however, he has turned his skills to the mundane details of Canadian tax and investment laws and created a fun little spreadsheet, and shared it with us all for free.

It’s also a nice guideline even for US-based Mustachians to get an idea of the simple calculations that go into deciding when you are ready to quit the rat race yourself.

Any US-based spreadsheet enthusiasts should feel free to tweak the columns to reflect our own Stateside equivalent factors and re-share the results with your fellow readers by sending it to me.

But anyway, here is a link where you can download it in .xls format:

Simple Retirement Calculator

And here are H.S.’s instructions:

basic instructions:

punch your info in the yellow squares.
light grey squares are constants that you can leave as-is, or tweak to make it more accurate for yourself. things like tax laws, %, or random income.

dark grey squares are formulas that i recommend playing with- mainly the ‘quit work threshold’. trying different algorithms there is neat.

the spreadsheet assumes that you will always contribute the maximum amount to your RRSP and TFSA if you can. it also assumes you will drain your funds that are generating taxable gains, then your TFSA, and finally your RRSP.

the “quit work threshold” column automatically goes to 1 when “investment gains are 1.5* cost of living” in the box

‘bank robberies needed to survive’ is an interesting column. if you see anything in there, you probably need to rethink your strategy (such as cutting the expected spending level or saving for a bit longer), as your RRSP is empty and it isn’t 2075 yet.

The thing that I found interesting from my own perspective is that the pre-set numbers describe what a mid-30s person might be currently starting out with – a fairly good job and a fairly high level of spending ($40,000 for one person, versus the MMM family’s projected $25,000 for three people this year). Even in this situation, the spreadsheet projects a million dollar net worth within about 13 years.. a far cry from the age 65 retirement goal people traditionally assume.

Enjoy, and may the surprises be positive ones!

  • eva June 14, 2011, 1:46 pm

    Much better!

    I am trying to rework it for US citizens but am stuck on the tax tables–I don’t fully understand the formula. If anyone else has got this I would love to see it!

  • Joe O. June 14, 2011, 4:49 pm

    I’d love to see a U.S. version, please do share if someone comes up with one.

    I’ve used I think 8 or 9 different retirement calculators (FireCalc is one of my favorites), but this is interesting too.

  • Kevin June 15, 2011, 1:51 pm

    I see a couple of problems with the tax calculation … Personal exemption $0-10,382 tax rate is 0% is not accounted for. Also, would be nice to break taxable income into 4 categories: Employment income, capital gains, dividend, and interest. For example, I would split “other funds growth” up by, say, 10% capital gains, 80% dividends and 10% interest in my case. Then divide capital gains by 2 before tax. I don’t recall exactly what the rules are for dividends, but could approximate by divide by 3, then apply tax rules.

    • herbert salisbury June 17, 2011, 2:51 pm

      Feel free to improve the spreadsheet with your ideas and post it back to us!

  • Bakari Kafele June 18, 2011, 4:35 pm

    I was getting “value” errors on pretty much everything, and there were so many columns and formulas, it was hard to find, but I found it.

    In case anyone else tried to use it and had the same problem, the formula in cell AJ2 begins “=IF((V2<AK2),(V2*AN1"
    when it should read "=IF((V2<AK2),(V2*AN2"
    Notice the last digit in that string is a 2 instead of a 1. Fix that, and all those "value" errors disappear and give you numbers like it should.

  • Young Mustachian October 20, 2011, 1:09 pm

    Did anyone ever get a copy of this spreadsheet re-worked for US residers? I tried to play with it, but ended up getting lost at one point and messing things up more than I meant to. I’d love to be able to keep this handy though as a tool as I try to revamp my new family’s finances!

  • Dom September 23, 2012, 6:10 am

    This has been eye opening.

    For every $2000 my cost of living increases, it will take me an addition year to become financially independant.

    Similarly, for every $2000 of after-tax income I can make per year, I will be an entire year closer to financial independence.

    Excuse me while I cancel my 87.6 day ($40/mo) gym membership and just work out at home.

  • Denny Courrier February 8, 2013, 6:16 pm

    Go to this website for a real kickass Canadian calculator – it will cost $99 the first year but you can download a demo version -latest income tax calcs and sophisticated cash flow



  • KarlaCash January 29, 2014, 1:03 pm

    If anyone has reworked for US (tax rates, 401K, IRA style), please post. I’m looking at it and this may take a while. I’d like to add this on to my other money management tools.

  • derekholmes March 3, 2014, 5:56 pm

    Killer Canadian calculator.Thanks

  • TKSS April 6, 2014, 2:41 am

    Hey..MMM..I am from India..your articles are really inspiring and I become a fan of yours…I am 32 now and planning for an early retirement by 45 … Pls..do share calculator suitable for Indians..i mean the one suitable for Indian Tax Laws..if you have one :-P…will be of a great help.


  • Chadwick von Zipperhöffen June 10, 2014, 12:31 pm

    “bank robberies to survive” that’s hilarious!

    Hi guys, I just updated the calculator to reflect the current USA tax bracket info. I also updated other information that makes it more relevant to our retirement system. You’ll have to make updates to reflect your current state’s tax brackets, but it should help a bit.


    • Bruce Cameron July 12, 2014, 12:47 pm

      Thanks a lot!! That looks awesome!

    • SkyeWalker October 10, 2014, 11:53 am

      This is awesome and should be included as an update to the original post! Thank you CvZ!

    • bbgun06 December 7, 2014, 2:53 pm

      As Sarah mentioned below, this file is no longer there. Could you please give us a new link? (I realize this is an old thread and you may never see my comment, but I have to ask!)

  • Peter July 18, 2014, 5:55 pm

    Fixed a few bugs in the calculator and converted/uploaded to Google Drive for those interested:


    • Sarah December 2, 2014, 4:34 pm

      I get a file not found error when clicking on your link…has it been moved? I’d really like to see what you put together for those of us in the US. :)

      • Sarah December 2, 2014, 4:38 pm

        Ooops! Sorry Mr. M…this was supposed to go under Chadwick von Zipperhoffen’s comment with the dropbox file for a US calculator….

  • Steve August 24, 2014, 9:54 pm

    I have a free and pretty accurate retirement planning spreadsheet for Canada available at this link

  • Chris November 15, 2014, 7:33 am

    Awesome resource, thanks so much.

    I’m curious how this takes into account a dual income family? Is the RRSP contribution amount assuming this is a single income?


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