by Nicole Sherman
Should I rent or buy? Will I ever pay off these student loans? At this rate, how long will it take me to pay off this credit card balance?
If you find yourself asking questions like these, you’re in good company with millions of other people puzzling over exactly the same problems. So many variables go into each financial decision, and it can be hard to feel like you know enough to make an informed decision. But one of the best things you can do for your financial health (and peace of mind!) is to take the time to gather enough information so you can make smart, informed decisions about your finances.
Luckily, plenty of resources exist to help give you the clarity you need.
Here, we take a look at five handy financial calculators that can help you develop a clear picture of where you are, and where you need to go.
1. Student Loan Repayment Calculator
Seven in ten college seniors will graduate with some form of educational debt. If you are one of them, you are probably counting the days till those monthly payments are just a memory. This student loan debt payoff calculator can help you figure out how much you need to pay per month in order to pay off your loans by a certain date. Very handy for those who don’t want to be paying on their student loans into retirement!
2. Rent or Buy?
The decision to buy a home (or not) is one of the most momentous financial decisions many people will ever make. Before you make a decision of this magnitude, take some time to consider which is right for you, keeping in mind that that answer will change depending on property value and taxes in your area, how long you intend to stay in the area, and other factors. See how each of these scenarios impacts your bottom line.
3. Paying off Your Credit Card
Whether you used your credit card to pay for a home improvement project or simply one too many dinners out with friends, if you have credit card debt, chances are you are anxious to get rid of it. A financial calculator like this one can help you work out exactly how much you will have to pay each month (taking into account your interest rate) to get out from under those payments.
4. Saving to Reach a Goal
Perhaps you want to finally take that vacation to Tahiti, buy a boat or remodel the kitchen. Whatever your goal, having a savings plan in place is a surefire way to help you reach your goal sooner. This calculator can provide you with a variety of scenarios and can help you understand exactly how much you need to save in order to attain your goal.
5. Retirement Planner
Are you on track to reach your retirement goals? The Retirement Planner factors in your age, social security contributions, current level of savings, income and more to provide a detailed picture of where you are and where you are headed.
Each of the tools above can provide you with a unique picture of one particular aspect of your financial health. The next challenge is to figure out how all of these aspects fit together. Meeting with a Certified Financial Planner may be a smart next step. A CFP from Columbia Bank Financial Services can help you assess where you are and develop a plan for where you’ll go next.
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