Here are some personal financial tools and sites we’ve found that may help with improving your finances.
It occurred to me as I was researching some financial matters on the web that many people don’t usually have the time to look for and review websites that may impact their personal finances or improve their financial education. Well, I thought I’d share those financial resources I’ve bookmarked for my own needs, and which are the results of my perusal:
Image by Channel 4.
Helpful Personal Financial Tools and Sites
1. Negative Equity Auto Loan Payment Calculator
This negative auto loan calculator allows you to figure out your monthly payments on a car you are planning to buy, even if your old clunker is worth less than what you owe.
2. FICO Score Estimator
This is a very useful tool to estimate your FICO score, the score that really matters when asking for a loan. Answer the questions truthfully, and have the information on your credit cards and loans (cars, furniture, etc.) at hand, as they will ask you what percentage of your available credit your debts represent; for example, I have two credit cards with a credit limit of $10,000 and my present balance is $2,500; so that’s 25%. My results were very close to my actual FICO score (you can pick up your actual scores and reports from myFICO or check out sites offering free credit scores).
3. Pre-Retirement Calculator
This calculator is a good tool to calculate your retirement needs, no matter what your age. You must take into account, however, that your numbers will vary depending on your needs and financial tools. Social Security income may be included. Use this tool to start you off on a savings plan that will help you work towards a comfortable retirement (barring catastrophes and costly divorces). One more thing — count on this calculator to only give you a ballpark figure, so use it for that purpose to give you a basic idea of your retirement needs. To get much more accurate numbers, you’ll need to utilize a lot more information and details to refine your results.
4. Yahoo! Finance, Taxes Section
I find this to be an extremely valuable tax advice site. It even predicts what the new stimulus package details and Obama’s tax plan will do to your budget.
5. Mortgage Refinancing Analyzer
The important question many homeowners are asking after witnessing the new lower mortgage rates is: should I refinance? This mortgage refinancing calculator can answer this question while also incorporating several other fees into the calculations, but make sure to add your insurance and local taxes to reach the final magical number.
6. Avoiding Foreclosure Site
I found this page to contain very useful information regarding possible foreclosure. It even gives you the summary of the new program called “FHASecure” which helps you refinance through government help (certain conditions must be met).
This is a site that provides a lot of helpful legal and financial advice and information, and is described as a “legal companion”, providing a free resource for those who want to get a handle on their legal requirements (whether or not additional professional assistance is sought elsewhere). Nolo.com is a great place to get a basic education on financial and legal matters such as bankruptcy, estate planning, disputes, business, even immigration. Many people manage to work things out on their own simply by using Nolo.com, while others use it as a resource prior to consulting with legal and financial professionals on more complicated matters.
8. Bonds Online, Income Investor Tools
In these difficult times, many people want to put their available cash in secure instruments, such as bonds. Bonds Online offers a huge information bank plus in depth analysis of what may be in store for investments in 2009 and beyond.
9. IRS Site
Let’s not forget our “dear” friend, the IRS. Their comprehensive site is a must for all of us. It has important information on deductions and personal exemptions which are scheduled to rise in 2009. If the Obama presidency makes a move to lower our taxes for 2008 (we can dream, can’t we?), this is the place to go to.
10. MSN Money’s Investing Section
This site is all about investing 101. Should you receive a windfall (never saw money brought by the wind), this site will give you step-by-step instructions on how to invest safely. Of course, you may want to keep a good amount of cash safe at 2% till the situation starts changing and we can see where this economy is going under a new administration. Other areas of MSN Money are also helpful, although I find the Investing section to be the most educational.
More resources on social security disability.