By visiting an early retirement forum, or retirement focused forum, you can learn a lot from others who may have already been in your shoes. Here is a description of several, and my top pick, that I examined to share with you.
I'm not a financial expert by any means, so my perspective is that of a "regular, real person".
At the best forums, you can learn investment best practices, tax rules to keep in mind, and experiences from others that can save you time and money.
Forums are excellent financial learning tools.
Just be aware that it is dangerous to take the advice of any specific poster for selecting specific investments.
It will take time to read and digest what you find at these sites.
As you spend time reading and getting to know the participants, you will be taken in all kinds of directions where you can learn a lot about investing.
The forum at early-retirement.org is one of the best I've seen.
A lot of people there have been studying early retirement topics and are preparing for early retirement or are already retired.
It is a very active early retirement forum and should be a good resource on financial planning for retirement, independent retirement living, and other retirement tips.
One thing to be aware of is that they don't like discussions that reference other resources. They consider that to be spam and will ban anyone who mentions other sites.
This is one of the few places where people talk about money in great detail. You can compare your situation to others there and get a feel for how you are situated. From the discussions you can learn a lot about options you may not have thought of or even known about.
They use a lot of acronyms, so it will take a little patience to get familiar with the lingo. There is an Early Retirement FAQ thread that explains the acronyms, so that might be useful to have open in another window.
The early-retirement.org site is related to the FireCalc.com website, which provides a feature-rich retirement planning calculator for analyzing retirement plans.
The FireCalc tool, which is also a very good resource, applies hundreds of scenarios against a given retirement plan and provides the results as percentages of likelihood for success in a graphic form.
At the AARP website, there is an online community and forum where people can share opinions and experiences. When I visited, it didn't look very active. Worth a try but keep expectations realistic based on the activity you see there.
The Motley Fool has discussion boards, including one on retirement, and they are somewhat active, but I found theirs to be difficult to navigate. Their retirement board doesn't have much depth either.
The forums at Morningstar.com are very well organized and easy to navigate. One category that I'm interested in, and you might be too, is the Investing in Retirement topic.
This forum has a retirement category and appears to be only slightly active, with about a dozen threads having posts for the current month. It doesn't appear to be very valuable, at least on the retirement topic.
These forums had no activity for the current day or week, so you shouldn’t waste your time on them.
In summary, the best forum for current discussions on retirement topics is the one at early-retirement.org, whether you plan to retire early or not.
Most of the topics discussed would be helpful learning tools for planning retirement at any age.