Happy holidays! To help you plan for a successful new year, we recently rolled out several significant improvements to OnTrajectory. Read on to learn more about:
- Optimizing account drawdown order in retirement
- All-new debt tracking capabilities
- Debt reduction strategies: Debt Snowball and Debt Avalanche
- Home equity accounts with linked mortgages
Account drawdown order optimization
For anyone who has reached retirement, one of the biggest financial questions is which account to spend first. We call this your drawdown order.
Drawdown order is important for two main reasons: taxes and investment growth. Spending from the right account early on can lower your tax burden (and avoid tax penalties). Less obviously, leaving money in certain accounts can allow for more tax-free growth, resulting in more money over time.
Historically, OnTrajectory’s projections assumed a fixed drawdown order. Now, you can use OnTrajectory to automatically try different drawdown orders using your real account information. The result is a tailored drawdown strategy that has been tested head-to-head against other sequences!
Users with unique needs can also set the drawdown order manually.
To access both options, log into your account and go to Menu→ Calculation Options. Under the Drawdown Options section, you can select the Auto-Optimize button or drag account types to reorder manually.
Debt tracking and loan payments
For millions of people, the first step toward gaining financial independence is getting out of debt. And even for people with substantial assets, it’s essential to factor loan expenses into your financial plan.
To make this easier, we added full support for debt tracking, including:
- Mortgage payments (improvements described later in this post)
- Credit card debts
- Vehicle loans
- College payments
- Other loan payments
Tracking a debt in OnTrajectory is simple. After logging into your account, go to the Expense & Debts tab and add a new entry. Select your debt type, then click the wrench icon next to the entry name:
Next, enter the starting debt amount and interest rate. Click “OK” to save the debt.
That’s it! Your estimated monthly minimum payment will show up as the expense amount, and your scenario will now reflect the debt.
OnTrajectory models debts like normal expenses, with one major exception: Debt expenses stop when the debt is paid down, rather than continuing until the expense’s End Age.
Want to pay off that debt sooner? Our next new feature is designed just for you….
Debt Snowball and Debt Avalanche strategies
In the immortal words of Mr. Money Mustache, your debt is an emergency! Rapidly paying it down is essential for building wealth.
Two popular strategies for paying down debt are the Debt Snowball and Debt Avalanche. OnTrajectory now supports both approaches, and shows you just how much they improve your financial future.
When you enable a debt reduction strategy, OnTrajectory will apply all available cashflow each month toward paying down your debts. “Snowball” will pay off your smallest debt first, which many people find motivating. “Avalanche” will pay off your debt with the highest interest rate first, which is the faster strategy…so long as you stay motivated.
To see the impact of each strategy, first add your debts to OnTrajectory. Then go to Analyze & View → Calculation. Under the Calculation Views, select “Employ a debt reduction strategy” and choose your strategy. You’ll see the effect on your trajectory and end balance.
Home equity accounts with linked mortgages
Unlike many forms of debt, mortgages can be a useful savings vehicle. Using our new debt tracking capabilities, we also improved support for home loans in OnTrajectory.
Previously, OnTrajectory allowed you to track home equity and mortgage expenses separately. While you can still do this, our new Home Equity accounts provide an easier way.
When you create a Home Equity account (Accounts tab → Add Account → Home Equity), OnTrajectory will prompt you to enter the following fields:
When you save the account, OnTrajectory will create a linked Mortgage loan in the Expenses & Debt section. By default, we’ll estimate your minimum monthly payment. Any changes you make to the account will update the linked mortgage. You can add additional payments by clicking the Add Age Range button on the mortgage expense:
New guides & tutorials
To support these new features, we added several new guides. Please check them out and let us know if you want to see any clarifications!
- Drawdown Preferences (new)
- Dealing with Debt (new)
- Analyze & View Options (new)
- Understanding Output Data (new section 4)
- Modeling Home Equity (revised)
As always, we’d love to hear what you think of OnTrajectory’s new capabilities. You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you aren’t already a member of the OnTrajectory community, visit OnTrajectory.com to start a free trial!