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 25 years, enjoy hiking and backpacking 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, over 7000 work hours later, the original tool has incrementally blossomed into the highly complex and capable tool it has become today.
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.