They say that money can’t buy happiness, but money can buy a luxury mansion with sandy beaches, azure seas, and unobstructed views of happiness. It’s also true that it’s much more comfortable to be crying aboard your private yacht with a glass of champagne in your hand than it is to be crying on a public bus with sticky soda on your shoes.
In all seriousness, smart money management is a mandatory requirement for anyone living amongst modern society and there are a variety of websites and web-based financial tools that can help you get a better grasp on those dollars and cents.
Calculating a Mortgage
A big part of the big picture dream for a lot of people is home ownership. There will always be debates about whether renting or buying makes the most financial sense, but the dream is always there. As such, you need to plan your purchase accordingly and ensure that you are buying at or below your means. The Bankrate Mortgage Calculator is a straightforward tool that you can use to work out how much your monthly payments will be based on the initial principal, mortgage term, interest rate and start date. You can also see how additional payments — monthly, annually or as a lump sum — can accelerate how quickly you can pay off the mortgage.
Getting a Car Loan
Next to buying a house, the second single largest purchase that most people will make in their lifetime is buying an automobile. It might be a humble hatchback for commuting around town or it could be a full-size pickup truck used for work purposes. Again, there are always going to be debates about whether you should pay for your car in cash, finance it or lease it. If you choose to finance it, the Auto Loan Calculator can help you work out your budget by calculating the amount of your monthly payment. This is based on the total price of the car, your down payment amount, your trade-in value (if any), sales tax, interest rate, loan period and payment frequency.
Working on Retirement
We all want to live life for today, but very few of us want to still be working full-time in our golden years. The earlier you start planning for retirement, the easier time you’ll have with money management when you’re old and grey. The challenge is two-fold: you want to know how much money you need to save for a comfortable retirement and you want to know how you can achieve that number. The AARP Retirement Calculator is organized as a brief questionnaire that goes over many key elements of your retirement. If you’re looking for something simpler, the retirement calculator from Bloomberg is much more straightforward.
Tracking Your Expenses
In the past, dealing with your budget may have meant having physical jars of cash in your home, organized into the different types of expenses you expect to incur. Since money management is far more digital these days, your solution also needs to be more digital. To keep track of where you’re spending all your money, a great tool is Xpenser, which is one of the expense tracker apps for iPhone that we listed previously. It’s accompanied by mobile apps, it provides automated credit card importing, and it can even be used for submitting expense reports for reimbursal from your employer.
Managing Your Investments
Watching the astronomical amount you spend on lattes and socking away spare change in a jar simply are not good enough on their own for sound money management. Just as you work for your money, you want your money to work for you. Investing can seem awfully scary and incredibly daunting, so you’ll want to arm yourself with the right tools and information to face the challenge. The “personal financial dashboard” from Personal Capital is a great way to do that, working on how your portfolio is performing, as well as keeping track of your household budgeting.
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