Calculate Your Way to Financial Success

April 27, 2015

When deciding which goals to tackle in life, putting pen to paper is often a good idea to determine if you can afford it. Fortunately, for those of us that are less mathematically inclined, there are financial calculators out there that can do the number crunching for you. Be warned though, some are better than others.  Here are a few we found that stood above the rest.

Tax Withholding Calculator

Am I having too much withheld? Too little? I had an epiphany this year. I didn’t blindly have to go through the year, hoping I was having enough taxes withheld from my paycheck so I wouldn’t end up having to write Uncle Sam a sizable check come tax time. By using this calculator, it won’t be a guessing game anymore. Have your last paycheck in front of you, answer a few questions, and voila!

Rule of 72 Calculator

Mathematicians a very long time ago came up with a formula that was used to determine how long it would take for money to double based on the interest rate.  This is called the Rule of 72. If you want to find out how long it should take money in your 401(k) or high-yield savings account to double, use the Rule of 72 calculator.

The Brown Bag Savings Calculator

Do you really know how much it is costing you every year to eat lunch out during the workweek? If the number was big enough, would that give you pause? Would you consider putting that money toward your retirement, a down payment on a house, or other financial goals? This calculator is helpful because not only does it calculate the total cost of that daily lunch over many years, but it also tells you how much interest your lunch money could earn if you saved it instead.

Car Affordability Calculator

When considering taking out a loan to buy a car, the first step is to find out how much of your budget you can spend per month on the payment. If you go to the car dealer without this number firmly in hand, you might find yourself financially in over your head when the first payment is due. Simply input your desired monthly payment and length of the loan into the calculator and it tells you how much of a car you can realistically afford.

Mortgage Affordability Calculator 

Determining how much you can afford for a house involves more than just comparing your paycheck to the mortgage payment. In other words, if you have debt, that has to be calculated in as well. This handy calculator determines how much house you can realistically afford given your other financial obligations. Even better, it breaks down the total cost of the mortgage so you can see how much of the monthly payment is being spent on taxes, insurance, principle and interest, and Private Mortgage Insurance if you have it.

Colorado PERA Retirement Planner

Colorado PERA’s own Retirement Planner is a wonderful tool to use to help you determine if you are well on your way to a solid retirement or if you need to make some changes to your plan. Based on your desired retirement date and the number of years working under PERA, it will inform you of your monthly retirement benefit. However, for most of our members, PERA is not the only retirement asset they have. You can plug in 401(k) and other tax-deferred account balances as well as Social Security and other annuities you are expecting to receive. In all, it provides a clear picture of your retirement readiness.

Debt Payoff Calculator

For those people that are serious about paying off debt, whether it is credit cards or student loans, this is a great resource to use. It can take a while to enter in all of the debts into the calculator, but it is worth its weight in gold for a number of reasons.  First, it allows you to choose which payoff method to use, the debt snowball or the debt avalanche. Furthermore, depending on which method you choose, it gives you a payment schedule with which creditor to pay the most that in that particular month. Lastly, if you follow the schedule, it predicts when you will be out of debt.