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Should I lease or purchase an auto?
Leasing has become a very popular method of acquiring a new auto. Although the payments may seem attractive, it may not always be the best financial decision versus purchasing the vehicle outright and financing it with a low interest loan. Use the following calculator to help analyze the financial impact of lease versus buy.
How does inflation impact my standard of living?
Inflation can erode purchasing power. For example, a dollar today cannot buy the same amount of goods and services it could 20 years ago. It will continue to erode purchasing power in the future. Use this calculator to determine the impact inflation may have on your standard of living.
What are the advantages of a 529 college savings plan?
Tax-deferral can have a dramatic affect on the growth of an investment. With a state-sponsored 529 College Savings Plan your contributions can grow tax-deferred (some states allow contributions to be partially or completely deductible) and distributed income tax-free as long as distributions are used for qualified education expenses such as tuition, fees, room and board at higher education institutions. There is no limit on contributions but some states tend to limit contributions once the plan assets have reached a defined maximum (typically $200,000 - $250,000). Under a special election, you may make contributions of up to $70,000 per beneficiary in a single year without triggering a federal gift tax by accelerating five years worth of contributions (gifts) as of 2013. Married couples may contribute $140,000 per beneficiary in a single year.* Assets are professionally managed by fund managers selected by the state. Participants can choose from two to almost 30 mutual fund-type investments. Control of the account remains with the contributor regardless of the age of the beneficiary. * A $70,000 gift is viewed as an accelerated gift over five years. Any other gifts to the same beneficiary by the contributor within five years may result in a federal gift-tax liability. If the contributor dies within the five-year period, a prorated portion of the contribution may be included in his or her taxable estate for federal estate tax purposes.
How much should I be saving for college?
With college costs increasing at twice the rate of inflation, it is important to start saving early. Interest working for you now in a regular savings program is much better than having interest work against you in the future in the form of education loans. Use our college savings calculator to determine how much you should be saving for college on a regular basis.
How long until my loan is paid off?
By making consistent regular payments toward debt service you will eventually pay off your loan. Use this calculator to determine how much longer you will need to make these regular payments in order to eventually eliminate the debt obligation and pay off your loan.
What is my credit score?
Although credit scores are calculated differently by the various credit bureaus, you can get an estimate of what your score may be by using this calculator. The three main things that help you have a good credit score are first, having a long history of making all debt payments on time, second using the proper mix of credit, and third not maxing out on available credit. Use our credit score calculator to help you determine a possible range of credit scores.
Home and Mortgage
Should I convert to a bi-weekly payment schedule?
It may surprise you that most banks and mortgage companies collect two to three dollars for every dollar that you borrow! However, there is a way to accelerate mortgage payoff using a method called Bi-Weekly Mortgage Payments. This program is implemented by dividing your monthly mortgage payment in half and paying it every other week - resulting in a net effect of paying an extra payment toward principal each year.
Should I rent or buy a home?
With interest rates near forty year lows, the decision to rent versus buy becomes difficult. Use this calculator to help determine which makes sense for you at this time.
How much life insurance do I need?
Planning to meet the financial needs of your survivors is one of the most important and fundamental steps in creating a sound financial plan for you and your family. This step may require the purchase of a life insurance policy to ensure that your family's needs will continue to be met, even after your untimely death cuts your earnings potential short.
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