It’s been about a month and a half since almost 300 personal finance professionals met up in Schaumburg, Illinois for the Financial Blogger Conference. There was a lot of information, a lot of networking, and we got a lot of swag. We got so much, in fact, I had to leave a lot of things behind in my room since I only checked in one bag and brought a duffle as opposed to a suitcase. I’m sure you’ve heard the snow globe horror stories, and the excitement around the slap bracelets. Neither one of those made it home with me (snow globe certainly wasn’t going to make it through TSA and I had no idea what the slap bracelet was until it was too late). However, I did bring home t-shirts, books, and an awesome goodie: a personal financial calculator.

I’m sure you’ve heard of the books For Dummies, as they have a variety of books, cheat sheets, and products. They’ve officially dumbed down personal finance even more and made it fun with this product. The Personal Financial Calculator For Dummies isn’t just an ordinary 10 digit calculator, and it’s not your complex TI-84 Plus graphic calculator either. It’s all about helping you understand personal finance, from saving for retirement and college, to paying off loans and credit cards. Instead of being met with abbreviations you don’t know, you’re greeted with color coded buttons with full explanations of what they do. There’s also a large display for those of us who hate squinting to see your numbers.

Personal Financial Calculator Buttons

The first row of buttons are yellow, and are for entering your initial amount, % interest rate, and number of years. The next row is used specifically for calculating savings, retirement, and college. You have your monthly deposit, end balance, principal deposit, interest earned, and monthly withdrawal. The next row includes red buttons for credit cards and loans like monthly payment, balance due, principal paid and interest paid. I like to think the yellow buttons are neutral, since they can be used for debt or savings, the green buttons are positive, because you want to save, and the red buttons are negative, encouraging you to get out of debt. You then have your average calculator keys, 0-9, a decimal point, percentage, +/-, and simple math functions (addition, subtractions, multiplication, and division).

Calculating When You Can Pay Off Debt

I used the calculator to determine when I could pay off debt if I paid just the minimum each month.

  1. Enter the current balance. For example, 690.66. Then press Initial $ Amount. This number is stored.
  2. Enter the interest rate. Example: 14.24. Then press % Interest Rate. This number is stored.
  3. Enter the minimum monthly payment. Example: 20. Then press Monthly payment. This number is stored.
  4. Press # of Years button, and it comes out to 3.72. That means it would take almost 4 years to pay off a credit card with a balance of $690.66 and 14.24% interest rate by only paying $20 per month.

Calculating How Much Is Needed to Pay Off Debt in 2 Years

Next, I tried the calculator out to see how much I would have to pay monthly in order to pay off debt in 2 years time.
  1. Enter the current balance. For example, 1,276.95. Then press Initial $ Amount. This number is stored.
  2. Enter the interest rate. Example: 29.99. Then press % Interest Rate. This number is stored.
  3. Enter the number of years. Example: 2. Then press # of Years. This number is stored.
  4. Press Monthly Payment button, and it comes out to 71.39. That means it would take $71.39/month to pay off a balance of $1,276.95 with a 29.99% interest rate in 2 years.

Calculating How Long It’ll Take to Build an Emergency Fund

Then, I tested the calculator’s function for getting a target date for an emergency fund of $10,000.
  1. Enter the target amount. For example 10,000. Then press End Balance.
  2. Enter the monthly contribution. Example: 350. Then press Monthly Deposit.
  3. Press # of Years button, and it takes 2.38 years to fund an emergency fund of $10,000 by depositing $350 each month.
The calculator has the ability to calculate car payments, retirement savings, and more. It’s a great financial tool that anyone interested in money could love. For $29.99, it’d be a great Christmas gift for someone else or mini splurge for yourself. It’s a nice size that can fit in your pocket or purse, and it’s easy to use.

Briana Myricks is a 20 something freelance writer and blogger. Striving for financial independence as a newlywed, she blogs about young married life at 20 and Engaged.