Classic Computer Magazine Archive START VOL. 2 NO. 5 / SPRING 1988


Calculate your mortgage, plan your retirement

by Arthur Shipley

How much of a mortgage can you afford? When you retire at age 65, will you be able to afford steak-or only spaghetti? Now you can figure your future with START'S Retirement Calculator and Mortgage Calculator. They'll let you experiment with the rest of your life without leaving the safety of your ST-and you'll find them on your START Disk!

You'll find the programs for this article in the file PLAN.ARC on your START Disk.

A budget is the perfect tool for understanding where your money comes from and where it goes. But sometimes you need to be able to plan ahead for major changes in your life-like buying a house, or even retiring. It's hard to figure out how much to budget every week or month for these big shifts until you know what the result will be. It can be very confusing, and many people just put it off.

But you don't have to put it off any longer With the Retirement Calculator and Mortgage Calculator programs on this issue's START Disk, you can figure out how much you should put away for your retirement and how much it will cost each month to buy a house. The programs make it easy-all you have to do is type in your numbers to figure out how much you can afford per month for retirement or a mortgage. Then you can add those numbers to your monthly budget- and you'll be well on the way to a more secure future.

Many companies today offer their employees some type of retirement benefits to help them offset the high cost of living when they reach age 65.

These retirement plans vary from company to company, but ours uses a type called a "401k" plan. You take a payroll deduction (up to a certain limit), which the company matches. This money is then invested for you in either an interest-bearing account or in stocks and bonds.

When I first got on this retirement program I did so without any enthusiasm. And no wonder-for the first ten years or so, my retirement account seemed to grow at a snail's pace. But I am now about 16 years into this plan and it is really starting to take off!

Are you getting the most out of your retirement account? Do you even have one? If not, want to see where you could be if you either worked for a company that offered one or if you started an account of your own?

You'll find a program to help you get started on your secure retirement on your START disk. Copy the file PLAN.ARC and the program ARCX.TTP to a fresh disk. Double-click on ARCX.TTP, and in the box that comes on the screen, type the filename PLAN.ARC and press the Return key. The disk will spin for a minute or so, the program will print messages on the screen and when it returns to the Desktop you'll find the Retirement Calculator program (as well as the Mortgage Calculator) on the disk.

To use the Retirement Calculator, double-click on RETCALC.PRG and follow the screen prompts. Tell the program how much you're starting with, how much you want to contribute each week, what the interest rate will be and how long the retirement program will run. The Retirement Calculator will show you how much money you'll have at the end of each year.

There are many different kinds of tax-exempt retirement plans, including IRAs (for individuals whose company doesn't have a retirement plan) and Keogh plans (for small companies). The Retirement Calculator will find the future values of these accounts, too. You can even use it to find out how much an ordinary passbook savings account will be worth if you regularly add to it, but there's a catch: you have to pay income tax on the interest from an ordinary savings account, so you may have to play with the formulas.

The Retirement Calculator is written in GFA BAS1C, and compiled with the GEA Compiler. You'll find the source code on disk in the file RETCALC.LST. To modify the program (for example, to calculate your funds based on daily, monthly or yearly contributions instead of weekly), you'll need GFA BASIC from MichTron; run GFA BASIC, then load RETCALC.LST in using the Merge command. If you don't have GFA BASIC, you can still look at the code or print it out by double-clicking on RETCALC.LST from the Desktop.

After running the Retirement Calculator, you may be surprised at where you could be 20 or 30 years from now. All you need to do is just start today with a reasonable amount and keep on diligently till retirement.

If you're like me, whenever you go out for a ride you can't help but notice all of those beautiful homes for sale around town that you think you could never afford. Ever wonder how much the mortgage payments must run?

START's Mortgage Calculator will help you play with some figures and answer enough questions to get an idea of how close you really are to buying that dream home. Suppose you've got an extra thousand dollars you could possibly put on the purchase but can't stand to part with. Just how much difference would it make in the long run? How much each month? You say you can't afford $20 or S30 a month more to finance for 20 years instead of 30? Got any idea how much that would save in the end? And just how important is it to save 1 percent interest on the mortgage?

Ever wonder
how much the mortgage
payments will run?

When you're house-hunting, without an amortization table you can't even figure what your monthly payments will be without a real-estate agent along to tell you. Mortgage Calculator will figure out your monthly payments, and tell you how much of each house payment goes to pay the interest alone.

The Mortgage Calculator is on your START disk in the compressed file PLAN.ARC; if you haven't already extracted the files from PLAN.ARC, check the instructions for the Retirement Calculator

When you double-click on MORTCALC.PRG, you can use the mouse to select between the two sections of the program: the Mortgage Calculator and the Amortizer. Under the Mortgage menu, you have three choices. You can calculate your loan payments, if you know the interest rate and number of payments (no tax or insurance); the number of payments, if you know the original value and interest rate; or the loan amount, if you know the interest rate and number of payments.

The Amortizer will print out an amortization table for you showing every payment complete with how much of each payment goes towards paying off the principal and what part actually goes towards paying the interest for that month. If you don't want to print out the entire table, the program will display only the final amortized results.

The Mortgage Calculator can really make it possible to figure out how much you can afford to pay for a house. By experimenting with different down payments, interest rates and financing terms, you'll be able to see just what it will take to get the house you want. Just as informative is the Amortizer-you'll discover that, for the first few years of almost any mortgage, virtually every cent you pay will go to pay the interest. Talk about an eye opener!

Like the Retirement Calculator, the Mortgage Calculator is written in compiled GFA BASIC. You'll find the source code on disk in the file MORTCALC .LST; you can list it by double-clicking from the Desktop, but you'll need GFA BASIC to modify the program.

Whether you are planning on buying a house or just like to play "What If?" I think this program will amaze you. Before you agree to any financing terms, run a few sets of figures through Mortgage Calculator to make sure you're making an informed decision.

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Arthur Shipley is a superintendent for an electrical construction firm in Albany Georgia. He uses his ST to run a BBS for local amateur radio hobbyists.