I know. Putting “money” and “calculator” in the title is a sure way to get people to avoid reading this article. But there are some great resources out there of which most need to be aware. Am I getting a good deal on this loan? How much do I need to retire? How much do I need to save for college? How much do I need to put toward my debt to pay it off in twelve months?
These are all questions that you may face. And you need to know the answers to make informed, wise decisions with your money. You need to know your financial reality. So, while there are several good money calculators out there, let me introduce you to five of them.
- The mortgage payment calculator. What will be your monthly mortgage payment if you purchase that home? This calculator can help you avoid being “house poor.” Make sure your monthly payment fits your budget. And don’t forget to remember taxes, insurance, and other costs associated with owning a home before making that purchase.
- The mortgage comparison calculator. Are there better mortgage deals out there for you? This calculator allows you to compare up to three mortgages. It also shows you what your private mortgage insurance (PMI) costs may be if you do not put down 20% on the home. Of course, you should seriously consider whether or not you should be buying a home if you are unable to come up with that down payment.
- The “Will I have enough to retire?” calculator. This is a simple calculator that tells you whether or not you are on track for retirement. It looks at how much you have and your current savings pattern to determine whether or not you will have enough to retire. So, it either provides a sense of relief or fear. Either way, it is good information to know.
- The college savings calculator. Like the above retirement calculator, this can help you know where you are and where you need to go. It looks like college is not going to get cheaper any time soon. So if you want to help your children with their college expenditures, be sure to check this calculator out.
- The credit card payoff calculator. Debt is a generosity killer. If you know how much you can pay each month toward your credit card debt, this calculator will tell you how long it will take to pay if off. Or, if you want to pay it off in a certain number of months, this calculator will tell you how much you need to pay each month to make it happen. This is a great tool for those who are eager to get free of their credit card debt.
Understanding your current financial reality is how you make sound financial decisions for the future. Money calculators like these are great, free tools that you can use to help determine your financial reality. Take some time and play around with these calculators. They may be the very things you need to understand how you can better manage your money.
Written by Art Rainer, member of the Summit Stewardship and Generosity Ministry Leadership Team.
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