A Purdue University Web site designed for farmers can help take some of the guesswork out of retirement planning.

Farm families may find calculating the cost of retirement particularly tricky. "I think people avoid figuring it out because they are afraid of the answer," says Sharon DeVaney, Purdue associate professor of consumer and family sciences.

Putting a price tag on retirement dreams is the goal of the "Retirement Estimator for Farm Families" Web site located at www.ces.purdue.edu/farmretirement The site was developed by DeVaney, working with Janet Bechman, an Extension specialist in family resource management, and George Patrick, a professor of agricultural economics. The resource was created with funding provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service.

The Internet site is specific to farm families because of the unique options they encounter in planning for retirement, Patrick says.

"Unlike many people who leave their jobs all at once, farmers often retire in stages," he says. "A farmer may first get rid of livestock, then later cut back on crop production and eventually stop planting altogether and rent out his land."

The site helps estimate the annual income a family would require for retirement and suggests options for matching expenses with projected available funds. Since the site is designed specifically for farmers, the "Retirement Estimator for Farm Families" includes inputs for income from rented crop and pastureland, income from the sale of machinery and other farm-related income and expenses.

"The estimator is a tool for planning ahead," Bechman says. "When you are 35 or 40 years old, you have enough time to adjust your plans to finance the lifestyle you seek in retirement."

In addition to calculating retirement expenses, the site provides links to additional retirement planning resources. It also offers examples of spending patterns for other farm families.