Online Calculators Make Number-Crunching as Easy as 1-2-3

Have you ever wanted to know exactly how long it will take to pay off your car, house or personal loan? Do you sometimes wonder how a small increase in your 401(k) contribution will affect the total balance 50 years from now? And wouldn’t it be convenient to quickly figure the day and date when you’ll be debt free? Online calculators can reveal answers to all those questions and more. Just gather a few data points, enter them into the appropriate calculator, and the answer is at your fingertips.

Here are direct links to some of the best, totally free online calculators. Each one serves a different purpose, but each one gets the job done for consumers who want precise answers about savings rates, loan payoffs, educational funds, and mortgage information.

The College Savings Calculator

If you plan on sending one or more children to college and paying for some of the cost yourself, this simple calculator is made to order. Starting with a child’s age and your best guess as to what tuition will be when entering the freshman class, you can figure out how much to save each month between now and the day you say goodbye, at least temporarily, to your beloved offspring.

A Versatile Loan Calculator

If you’re planning on obtaining a traditional-type fixed loan, this calculator will show you exactly what your monthly, quarterly or annual payments will be based on the interest rate and the life of the loan. You can easily manipulate various interest rates, down payments and loan terms.

Mortgage Comparison Calculator

Mortgage math can get pretty heavy when homeowners want specific comparisons between fixed rate and variable rate loans. This calculator is designed for people who want to build home equity in the most efficient way possible. After inputting all the relevant data, you’ll be able to see whether a fixed or variable rate mortgage is in your best interest. For millions of working adults, a primary financial goal is building up home equity as quickly as possible. This free online tool will help you do just that.

The Retirement Calculator

This financial tool is a bit more sophisticated than the ones above because it uses a lot more pieces of information. From the planning team at AARP, the calculator needs input concerning your savings rate, age, expected Social Security benefits, current all-source income, and expected post-retirement lifestyle. But the beauty of it is the result. The calculator uses all the data you give it to produce a summary of how on- or off-target you are, in terms of achieving the financial lifestyle you desire by retirement age.

Calculator Caution

Remember to use online calculators as just one, of many, ways to do comprehensive financial planning. They’re a great place to begin getting an idea about goals, but it’s usually a smart move to consult a professional financial planner to get a comprehensive view of where you stand, money-wise. Calculators are fun to play with, and can deliver some solid information, but there’s a lot more to your life than a few numbers and a couple of random interest rates, so leave the heavy lifting to professionals when it comes to your life savings and overall monetary health.

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