Biography of the Designer, a Brief History of the Pralana Retirement Calculator, and My Design Philosophy
My name is Stuart Matthews and I’m the designer and developer of the Pralana Retirement Calculator. I’m a retired electrical engineer, systems integrator and program manager. I received a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Texas at Austin and had a rewarding career in the defense industry with Bendix, Rockwell International and Raytheon, retiring in early 2009. I’m married, have two grown and successful kids, have been a private pilot for over 20 years and have designed and personally built our retirement home.
The Pralana Retirement Calculator project began in January 2011 after I read an article in Consumer Reports that reviewed on-line retirement calculators. Having built my own rather primitive “calculator” (actually an Excel spreadsheet) to plan out the last 10 years of my working life and thereafter, I read the article with great interest and then went on-line to check out CR’s recommendations. Wow, what a disappointment! So, with a basic idea, plenty of free time and always up for a challenge, I set out with an idea to provide a more capable alternative to on-line retirement calculators and had PRC 1.0 and the initial website ready to go within weeks. But new ideas kept flooding in and I kept improving it, little by little. Now, about 7000 work hours later, the original tool has incrementally blossomed into the highly-complex and capable tool it has become with the release of PRC2020.
I made it my mission to develop a robust life cycle model that concurrently models most of the numerous interacting forces that govern our financial lives and then presents its users with useful, verifiable and easy-to-understand outputs they can use to make the financial decisions on which their futures will depend and to better understand the sensitivity of their plan to a host of variables. A primary guiding principle has been to design and build a tool that satisfies my own needs and those of people close to me. Always being somewhat restless and dissatisfied, I frequently consider lifestyle and investment alternatives and find it highly useful to be able to sit down with PRC and, within a couple of minutes and sometimes even just seconds, model and compare alternatives. Additionally, as most of us probably realize, planning for our financial futures is not a one-time, five-minute task. Therefore, I appreciate having ready access to a tool that remembers everything I put in previously and makes it extremely easy for me to modify any and all parameters in mere seconds, and then updates the outputs in real time….no re-entering of data or waiting for and then sifting through pages of reports.
The ideas that have been incorporated into PRC2020 have come from users of previous versions who have taken their valuable time to share and work with me, and from an ongoing reflection and refinement process in my own head. I hope it exceeds your expectations!
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