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How do I Choose the Best Personal Finance Calculator?

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  • Written By: Keith Koons
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 31 October 2016
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    Conjecture Corporation
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To choose the best personal finance calculator, look for one with a few basic budgeting tools in order to meet a variety of needs. Look for a calculator that makes it easy to calculate things like saving on interest rates and reducing payment lengths. The best personal finance calculator might have some type of storage capacity to track previous payments or add payments do different subcategories. Some consumers also prefer a personal finance calculator that can remember running totals and be used for generating monthly statement sheets. In general, the best personal finance calculators will be online tools or computer software.

The number one trait that a good personal finance calculator should have is the ability to break down spending habits. Worldwide, the average consumer spends approximately $7 US Dollars (USD) on non-essential items per day, or $210 USD per month. A good personal finance calculator is designed so that consumers can recognize wasteful spending habits like these and plan for saving money.

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While many personal finance calculators will track spending habits to some degree, the better software programs available will automatically store each piece of information into a preset category. Users can then track their spending throughout the month, which makes it much easier to set short- and long-term goals. For example, if a family wanted to eliminate $15,000 USD in credit card debt, a personal finance calculator would help to determine a payment plan that could make it a reality. Since the data is synced with the family's checking account, this task becomes much easier.

Another feature that consumers seek in a personal financial calculator involves mortgage payments and amortization schedules. Some of the better calculators can determine how much interest would be saved over the life of a loan by increasing each payment by a set amount. Consumers could also make the calculation based on a future payoff date, which would provide what the monthly payment would have to be in order to have the debt eliminated by a certain time. The same formulas can also be applied to saving, and a quality personal finance calculator will calculate what future balances would be with interest.

One of the features that more expensive personal finance calculators have is the ability to take all of the previously mentioned traits and combine them into a single report. Since this data would continue to accumulate indefinitely, the user can look back and compare things like utility bills or total income from several years prior. It can also be programmed to track the income and spending habits of multiple users, so it makes it much easier to find ways to save money when finances come from different sources.

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