I see a lot of financial calculators while researching money stories. Most of them are the same: fill in some boxes, get a result. Last week, I stumbled on a “visual calculator” that adds a nice twist to the formula. Mainstay Investments offers a “Saving for a goal” tool that uses the traditional text boxes for data input, but also allows users to make changes by adjusting sliders.

It’s subtle but, for me at least, remarkably effective.

This calculator was created by a company called VisualCalc, which offers an extensive library of personal finance calculators, all of which can be accessed freely from the company’s web site. (Warning: The calculators are java apps that appear in pop-up windows.) There are mortgage and rent calculators, income and insurance calculators, savings calculators, retirement calculators, and more.

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