For some of people saving money comes as naturally as walking does to the rest of us. These folks figure out ways to maximize the cash they sock away for a rainy and know how best to make the bucks they have work for them.
Unfortunately, I'm not one of them.
Oh, I've managed to salt away a bit, but I started way too late and was putting away way too little. Past events have kept my savings from accumulating and near future events will impact what I do have significantly, decimating my bottom line. As you might expect, this is a concern for me, especially now that retirement is more than a distant goal.
The problem with saving is that its hard to justify putting aside money today to address the future when your present life could use it. After all, we work hard, live up to our responsibilities, pay bills, so on. Shouldn't we at least be able to go somewhere or buy a little something every now and then to make our work-a-day lives a bit more pleasant?
Of course, but that can be a problem if you do it constantly. I know there are times when it can't be helped, but those times should be the exception, not the rule.
If you're like me you've likely made promises to do better at saving, and you likely have kept that promise, but is it enough?
For me, the answer is a resounding, NO!
How do I know? I wouldn't if I didn't have some tools to help me figure out where I am and where I need to be. If you're guessing that I'm talking about financial calculators you'd be dead on.
I recently got very serious about saving, so much so that I realized I needed help to reach my goals, so I started looking for tools to help me develop a plan to get me where I want to be in a few years.
I have to tell you, working with numbers that represent your bottom line can be a very humbling experience. You may think things are going along OK, but when you plug in the digits and hit return the result can be unbelievable, in a bad way. On the flip side, with the right tools, creating goals and planning strategies to achieve them based on the dough you have and will have can put a smile on your face and make the effort worthwhile.
I recently did this and while I have a lot of work ahead of me, I can say that if I execute my plan and reach my goal I should be OK. That's a big "IF", but before that, "IF" didn't exist.
So in this week's Free on iTunes I'll point you to a few specialty calculators, two of which you can use to help plan your financial future. The third is just a fun calc, so let get to it.
Financial Calculator Pro Lite [9.8 MB, all iOS devices iOS 4.3 or later, Maker: Anatoly Weinstein]
Financial Calculator Pro: Lite
Financial planning is not fun. You're dealing with numbers that represent your ability to buy a house, car, or put Junior through college, and often the numbers never seem to be large enough. Still, it's no reason to ignore it and not plan, and having a calculator to help you visualize where you'll be financially five to tens years from now can be a huge help. Enter Financial Calculator Pro Lite.
Compound interest works like a charm, only more reliable
The Lite version only allows you to play with compound interest saving and inflation projections, but these can be a big help in planning your long term goals. The other calculators in the app allow you to play with some parameters, but with a fixed starting amount. This way you can see how the calc works at least, before spending the US$4.00 to upgrade to the full version.
I'm a fan of the simple interface. Select the type of calc type, put in your numbers and, viola! The chart adjusts to show your projected amounts over time. Easy peasy!
There not much more to it than that, a simple specialized tool that will help you plan. Even those of you with means can benefit from this quick and easy app, and for that it gets a knowing nod from me. It should get a download from you.
Mortgage Calculator Plus [3.4 MB, all iOS devices iOS 4.3 or later, Maker: Appeum Inc.]
For most folks the biggest investment they'll ever make is a house. It doesn't matter how big, where it is, or how much it costs, knowing how your mortgage loan will affect you is key to planning your financial future. Having a simple tool that lets you figure out that stuff is key as well. Mortgage Calculator Plus can help.
Enter the principle loan amount, interest, and frequency of payments, hit "Calculate" and badda-bing! You not only get your payment amounts with total interest paid over the life of the loan, but you also get a payment schedule and graph showing principle, interest, and balance amounts over the life of the loan. Pretty nice.
Nice graph shows where your mortgage money goes
Mortgage Calculator Plus is ad-supported, but the ads don't get in the way. If you have a calculation you particularly like you can save it.
And that's about it. No muss, no fuss. Just easy Mortgage Calculator Plus goodness.
OK, this is the odd one, and I wrote about it before, but it deserves another mention.
MyScript Calculator has been enhanced since we last visited it. Now it's more than a novelty. It will do log and trig functions along with basic math and algebra calculations. The cool thing that you just write it out on the screen using your finger or stylus just as you would with paper and pencil.
Need to add something to the equation? Just write it in and MyScript Calculator incorporates the new data and adjusts the results accordingly. Anything the app doesn't understand will leave a "?" in its place. You can then email the whole calculation or copy it to another app. And it does it all without ads.
It's a deceptively simple app that seems to work like magic, and its an excellent app for when you just need to think.
That's a wrap for this week. But, of course, there are a few other things I need to point you to before I go.
First, arcade gamers will want to grab this week's Free App of the Week, Pivvot, a seriously addicting game that's bound to get you bobbing and weaving.
Music lovers will want to grab Little Games, This week's Free Single of the Week from The Colorist. Listen and more bobbing and weaving shall commence.