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Number Crunchers

Online calculators help you play "what if" games with your finances.
September 1, 2008

One of the joys of the internet is how it allows you to easily play "what if" games. Whether you're talking about the Electoral College, March Madness or personal finances, all you have to do is plug in the variables to see how different scenarios play out. With financial calculators in particular, you have plenty of places to play these games. Hundreds of websites offer rudimentary financial calculators that allow you to see the power of compounding, determine the true cost of a 15-year mortgage vs. a 30-year mortgage and figure out whether it's a better financial move to lease or buy your next car. You should still check the base assumptions built into each calculator, but most are pretty good. They'll help you get your financial house in order.

Here are a few that rise above the pack, either because of the breadth of calculators in one place or their specific usefulness:

Scott Bernard Nelson is a newspaper editor and freelance writer in Portland, Oregon.