Monday Motivation: Use a Loan Calculator to Stay Motivated

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motivationmondaysmIt’s inevitable: At some point during your debt payoff journey, you’ll find that your enthusiasm for paying off debt is flagging, and that you’re just not as motivated to get that balance down to $0 as you once were. When that happens, an easy way to recapture your eagerness to pay off your debt is to visit your favorite online loan calculator.

Loan calculators are fabulous, and they make very complicated math equations as easy as entering some raw data and clicking submit. You just need to know the balance on your account, the interest rate, and the length of the loan. If you don’t know these figures off the top of your head, you can find them on your monthly statement. For loans that don’t have to paid off within a certain period of time, like credit card loans, a loan calculator will show you long it will take to pay off the balance if you make the minimum monthly payment.

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As a borrower who doesn’t want to be a borrower for much longer, you can use a loan calculator to motivate yourself when you’re down by entering variations of your situation. For example, if you’ve still got quite a ways to go before your loan is paid off, you might consider printing out the entire amortization table and crossing out each square as you make your payments. Or you might see what a difference an extra $20 added to your monthly payment makes over the life of the loan.

If you’re in the stretch run, a loan calculator can show you how your final payments will break down. It may be especially motivating to see how quickly you can change the final payoff date by increasing your monthly payment, or by sending in an extra payment or two. Or, put in the original numbers on your loan, and enjoy seeing quantitative proof of the progress you’ve made since you began your debt payoff journey.

My personal favorite calculators are at Bankrate.com, which has a large selection of calculators tailored to specific situations and scenarios, and offer great options like printable amortization tables. But there are literally millions of online loan calculators, so you should choose your own favorite. Once you’ve got one, be sure to bookmark it and return to it whenever you need a shot of motivation.

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Cathy is the founder of Chief Family Officer, where you can get daily updates on the hottest deals, and tips to achieve financial freedom and family bliss.