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PROGRAM PLANS YOUR LIFE IN HARD DOLLARS.

Byline: Mike Langberg Knight-Ridder Tribune News Wire

I'm probably going to die in the year 2037 at age 83.

And I'm scheduled to run out of money three years after I retire at age 70 in 2024.

These daunting projections come from Quicken Financial Planner, a well-crafted if somewhat sobering guide to saving for retirement and other big expenses.

Intuit Inc., best known for its Quicken financial management program, has just released the second edition of Quicken Financial Planner with several useful new features not found in the first version, released in May 1995.

The new Quicken Financial Planner doesn't just cover retirement; it also allows you to plan for sending children to college and gives advice on life insurance.

Intuit is rapidly becoming the mother hen of software companies, eager to track and plan every step of our financial lives. Most of us, frankly, can benefit from a dose of computer-driven oversight.

The baby boom generation, which starts reaching age 65 in just 15 years, isn't socking away nearly enough. According to statistics cited by Intuit, the 78 million baby boomers collectively are saving only 34 percent of what they needed ``to maintain their standard of living in retirement.''

So why aren't we paying more attention to the problem? At least part of the answer is inertia. It's too difficult to read financial planning books and too expensive to hire an investment professional.

That's where Quicken Financial Planner helps. You can do a bare-bones retirement plan in 15 minutes with the Quick Plan feature or do a full plan in an hour - assuming you have all the necessary information at hand, such as the expected benefit from your pension plan and the value of your house.

Once you've entered the data, you get a traffic light: a green light means your plan is adequate, a red light means you're in trouble. Whatever the result, it's easy to go back and alter the data to reflect different strategies, such as saving more money, or changing life situations, such as the birth of a child.

Quicken Financial Planner is so simple to use I'm baffled as to why Intuit felt compelled to include a 150-page manual, even though the text is clearly written and helpful.

The CD-ROM displays a spiral-bound notebook on the screen, with tabs down the right-hand side marking the different chapters in the planning process. You simply go from page to page through the notebook, entering information when prompted to do so, and then look at the results.

Financial commentator Jane Bryant Quinn is available at any time through an Expert button at the bottom of the screen. She appears superimposed on notebook pages, delivering cheery advice.

In answer to the question, ``How can I reduce my expenses so I can save?'' Quinn says: ``There is life after putting money into retirement savings. You may wonder how you'll manage to live on the income you have left. Believe it or not, it can happen by magic. If you switch even $50 a week into savings, you may spend $50 less without noticing. You are capturing the money that slipped through your fingers just because it was there to spend.''

Quicken Financial Planner isn't the only assistance you'll need to make an effective retirement plan. The CD-ROM is more of a tool for creating financial projections than a teacher, so you may still have to turn elsewhere to learn about important topics, such as investment options.

CAPTION(S):

Photo

Photo: The Quicken Financial Planner features columnist Jan e Bryant Quinn.

Knight-Ridder Tribune Photo Service
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Copyright 1996, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:BUSINESS
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Article Type:Sound Recording Review
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 10, 1996
Words:595
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