How to make finance calculators work for you

How to make finance calculators work for you

Getting a clue as to how your finances work doesn’t have to be complicated, and thanks to finance calculators found online, you can make sense of your money with the right calculator.

The internet has given us some amazing things: cat videos, memes aplenty, and an endless supply of adorable babies. But did you know it can deliver a calculated approach to calculating your finances?

That’s the point of a finance calculator, a tool seen on various websites that can answer the question of how much money you might need for something, and how much you stand to gain. Important questions, obviously, and ones you might not have been able to answer yourself.

So where do you start, and how can you make a finance calculator work for your life?

Learn your borrowing power

If you’re thinking of diving into the housing market this year, it’s a good time to brush up on the lingo. Whether it’s your first home or something you plan to use for investment purposes, learning how much you can spend is a big part of being able to buy that house in the first place.

How much you can take out is also known as “borrowing power”, and depends on how much you make, how much of a deposit you have, what your credit history is like, loans you’re paying off, and other aspects significant to your life.

Everyone’s borrowing power is different, though it can and will affect how much you have to work with when buying a home.

You might think that borrowing power can only be told to you by a broker, but that’s just simply not true. While a broker will give you the best chance of learning your true borrowing power, a borrowing power calculator can get you a realistic answer on how much money you should be able to use.

RateCity’s home loan borrowing calculator can provide that answer, offering an estimation on how much you have to work with based on your current finances.

How much extra will you need for home buying?

Working out how much money you have to play with is just one part of calculating home loan requirements, because you also need to work out how much actual money you’d need to spend.

Buying a home isn’t just the overall purchase price, after all. There are other things to consider, such as a building inspection, possible renovations, and then the obligatory things we wish we didn’t have to factor in, but will anyway.

For instance, if you don’t have 20 percent of the loan or over, or you don’t have a guarantor for your home loan, you’ll very likely have to pay Lender’s Mortgage Insurance. Also called “LMI”, it’s a type of insurance that insures the bank or lender, but not you, and basically accounts for their risk to lend to you.

If you haven’t managed to hit that 20 percent amount, LMI is tacked on with the loan, and is something extra you’ll have to pay. Lender’s Mortgage Insurance is different on a property-by-property basis, but you can find a calculator to help work out the cost of LMI on RateCity.

You might get out of paying LMI if you have a big deposit or a guarantor, but you probably won’t get out of stamp duty. A fairly standard side of home buying in Australia, stamp duty is charged on properties at different rates, though depending on if you’re a first home buyer, you could be given a reprieve or even a discount.

However, you also may not, so calculating your stamp duty is a handy idea if you’re considering buying a home. Fortunately, RateCity offers a stamp duty calculator, making it just that little bit easier to work out how much you’d potentially need to hand over at the time of purchase.

Make your savings account work for you

You work hard for the money, but that doesn’t mean the money works hard for you. Depending on the type of account you have your money in, it might be possible to get more out over a long period of time.

By “long period”, we mean it. To get the most out of savings accounts and term deposit accounts, you need to leave your money in for a term, taking advantage of interest rates and time to increase the money you can earn.

However you don’t need to do it on a punt, because calculators can help make that decision a little easier, finding out whether a certain bank account is better for your money than something else.

A savings account calculator will help you understand how much money you can earn and still use, and if you find it’s not enough, there’s always a selection of savings accounts to consider switching to.

Term deposits work a little differently, and ask you to invest a potentially larger portion of money for a period of time. The longer the time and the higher the interest rate, the more you can potentially make, with a term deposit calculator able to help you work out how much money you stand to make.

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Fact Checked -

This article was reviewed by Personal Finance Editor Alex Ritchie before it was published as part of RateCity's Fact Check process.

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Learn more about home loans

What are the features of home loans for expats from Westpac?

If you’re an Australian citizen living and working abroad, you can borrow to buy a property in Australia. With a Westpac non-resident home loan, you can borrow up to 80 per cent of the property value to purchase a property whilst living overseas. The minimum loan amount for these loans is $25,000, with a maximum loan term of 30 years.

The interest rates and other fees for Westpac non-resident home loans are the same as regular home loans offered to borrowers living in Australia. You’ll have to submit proof of income, six-month bank statements, an employment letter, and your last two payslips. You may also be required to submit a copy of your passport and visa that shows you’re allowed to live and work abroad.

Why does Westpac charge an early termination fee for home loans?

The Westpac home loan early termination fee or break cost is applicable if you have a fixed rate home loan and repay part of or the whole outstanding amount before the fixed period ends. If you’re switching between products before the fixed period ends, you’ll pay a switching break cost and an administrative fee. 

The Westpac home loan early termination fee may not apply if you repay an amount below the prepayment threshold. The prepayment threshold is the amount Westpac allows you to repay during the fixed period outside your regular repayments.

Westpac charges this fee because when you take out a home loan, the bank borrows the funds with wholesale rates available to banks and lenders. Westpac will then work out your interest rate based on you making regular repayments for a fixed period. If you repay before this period ends, the lender may incur a loss if there is any change in the wholesale rate of interest.

Cash or mortgage – which is more suitable to buy an investment property?

Deciding whether to buy an investment property with cash or a mortgage is a matter or personal choice and will often depend on your financial situation. Using cash may seem logical if you have the money in reserve and it can allow you to later use the equity in your home. However, there may be other factors to think about, such as whether there are other debts to pay down and whether it will tie up all of your spare cash. Again, it’s a personal choice and may be worth seeking personal advice.

A mortgage is a popular option for people who don’t have enough cash in the bank to pay for an investment property. Sometimes when you take out a mortgage you can offset your loan interest against the rental income you may earn. The rental income can also help to pay down the loan.

How much money can I borrow for a home loan?

Tip: You can use RateCity how much can I borrow calculator to get a quick answer.

How much money you can borrow for a home loan will depend on a number of factors including your employment status, your income (and your partner’s income if you are taking out a joint loan), the size of your deposit, your living expenses and any other debt you might hold, including credit cards. 

A good place to start is to work out how much you can afford to make in monthly repayments, factoring in a buffer of at least 2 – 3 per cent to allow for interest rate rises along the way. You’ll also need to factor in additional costs that come with purchasing a property such as stamp duty, legal fees, building inspections, strata or council fees.

If you are planning on renting the property, you can factor in the expected rental income to help offset the mortgage, but again it’s prudent to add a significant buffer to allow for rental management fees, maintenance costs and short periods of no rental income when tenants move out. It’s also wise to factor in changes in personal circumstances – the typical home loan lasts for around 30 years and a lot can happen between now and then.

How does a mortgage calculator work?

A mortgage calculator is an extremely helpful tool when planning to take out a home loan and working out the costs. Although each mortgage calculator you come across may be slightly different, most will help you estimate how much your repayments will be. The calculator will often also show you the difference in repayments if you repay weekly, monthly or fortnightly. 

To calculate these figures, you’ll be asked to enter a few details. These include the amount you plan to borrow, whether you’re an owner-occupier or an investor, the proposed interest rate and the home loan term. It will also often show you the total interest you’ll be charged and the total amount you’ll repay over the life of the loan.  

Understanding how the mortgage calculator works, helps you to use it to see how different loan amounts, interest rates and terms affect your repayments. This can then help you choose a home loan that you can repay comfortably and save on interest costs. The mortgage calculator lets you compare the benefits and costs of home loans from different lenders to help you make a more informed choice. Use a mortgage calculator to help identify which home loan is most suitable for your requirements and financial situation.

How can I apply for a first home buyers loan with Commonwealth Bank?

Getting a home loan requires planning and research. If you are considering a home loan with the Commonwealth Bank, you can find the information you need in the buying your first home section of the bank’s website.

You can see the steps you should take before applying for the loan and use the calculators to work out how much you can borrow, what your monthly repayments would be and the upfront costs you’d likely pay.

You can also book a time with a Commonwealth first home loan specialist by calling 13 2221.

CommBank publishes a property report that may help you understand the real estate market. The bank has also created a CommBank Property App that you can use to search for property.  The link to download this app is available on the same webpage.

If you are eligible for the First Home Loan Deposit Scheme, CommBank will help you process your application. The scheme helps first home buyers to purchase a home with a low deposit. You can read details about this scheme here and speak with a CommBank home lending specialist to understand your options.

Can I get a home renovation loan with bad credit?

If you're looking for funds to pay for repairs or renovations to your home, but you have a low credit score, you need to carefully consider your options. If you already have a mortgage, a good starting point is to check whether you can redraw money from that. You could also consider applying for a new home loan. 

Before taking out a new loan, it’s good to note that lenders are likely to charge higher interest rates on home repair loans for bad credit customers. Alternatively, they may be willing to lend you a smaller amount than a standard loan. You may also face some challenges with getting your home renovation loan application approved. If you do run into trouble, you can speak to your lender and ask whether they would be willing to approve your application if you have a guarantor or co-signer. You should also explain the reasons behind your bad credit rating and the steps that you’re taking to improve it. 

Consulting a financial advisor or mortgage broker can help you understand your options and make the right choice.

How much deposit do I need for a home loan from ANZ?

Like other mortgage lenders, ANZ often prefers a home loan deposit of 20 per cent or more of the property value when you’re applying for a home loan. It may be possible to get a home loan with a smaller deposit of 10 per cent or even 5 per cent, but there are a few reasons to consider saving a larger deposit if possible:

  • A larger deposit tells a lender that you’re a great saver, which could help increase the chances of your home loan application getting approved.
  • The more money you pay as a deposit, the less you’ll have to borrow in your home loan. This could mean paying off your loan sooner, and being charged less total interest.
  • If your deposit is less than 20 per cent of the property value, you might incur additional costs, such as Lenders Mortgage Insurance (LMI).

What are the different types of home loan interest rates?

A home loan interest rate is used to calculate how much you’ll pay the lender, usually annually, above the amount you borrow. It’s what the lenders charge you for them lending you money and will impact the total amount you’ll pay over the life of your home loan. 

Having understood what are home loan rates in general, here are the two types you usually have with a home loan:

Fixed rates

These interest rates remain constant for a specific period and are a good option if you’re a first-time buyer or if you’re looking for a fixed monthly repayment. One possible downside of a fixed rate is that it may be higher than a variable rate. Also, you don’t benefit from any lowering of interest rates in the market. On the flip side, if rates go up, your rate won’t change, possibly saving you money.

Variable rates

With variable interest rates, the lender can change them at any time. This change can be based on economic conditions or other reasons. Changes in interest rates could be beneficial if your monthly repayment decreases but can be a problem if it increases. Variable interest rates offer several other benefits often not available with fixed rate home loans like redraw and offset facilities and free extra repayments. 

What are the pros and cons of no-deposit home loans?

It’s no longer possible to get a no-deposit home loan in Australia. In some circumstances, you might be able to take out a mortgage with a 5 per cent deposit – but before you do so, it’s important to weigh up the pros and cons.

The big advantage of borrowing 95 per cent (also known as a 95 per cent home loan) is that you get to buy your property sooner. That may be particularly important if you plan to purchase in a rising market, where prices are increasing faster than you can accumulate savings.

But 95 per cent home loans also have disadvantages. First, the 95 per cent home loan market is relatively small, so you’ll have fewer options to choose from. Second, you’ll probably have to pay LMI (lender’s mortgage insurance). Third, you’ll probably be charged a higher interest rate. Fourth, the more you borrow, the more you’ll ultimately have to pay in interest. Fifth, if your property declines in value, your mortgage might end up being worth more than your home.

How can I calculate interest on my home loan?

You can calculate the total interest you will pay over the life of your loan by using a mortgage calculator. The calculator will estimate your repayments based on the amount you want to borrow, the interest rate, the length of your loan, whether you are an owner-occupier or an investor and whether you plan to pay ‘principal and interest’ or ‘interest-only’.

If you are buying a new home, the calculator will also help you work out how much you’ll need to pay in stamp duty and other related costs.

How much of a deposit do I need for a home loan from the Commonwealth bank?

The minimum deposit the Commonwealth Bank usually accepts is 10 percent of the amount you wish to borrow. However, a deposit of at least 20 percent of the amount you’re borrowing is needed if you wish to avoid Lenders Mortgage Insurance (LMI). LMI is charged for smaller deposits to give the lender extra recourse if the borrower fails to repay their loan. 

As an alternative to LMI, some borrowers with smaller deposits may opt to pay the Commonwealth Bank’s low deposit premium fee. It is a one-time, non-refundable charge that is added to a low-deposit home loan.

The deposit and the loan amounts are used to determine the LDP -, the higher the deposit, the lower is this cost. 

When calculating how much you need to save, don’t forget to factor in other expenses like stamp duty, insurance, legal fees, and moving costs.

Where can I get all the information about an ANZ first home buyer’s loan?

As a first home buyer, you may require help and hand-holding, and as such ANZ has the buying your first home section on its website full of important information. ANZ also has a form in this section you can fill out to get a free consultation from an ANZ First Home Coach and create your own plan for buying your first home. This coach will help you understand where your current income is being spent and plan for your home loan repayments. You’ll get a clear picture of the costs involved in purchasing a property and how to budget or save for these costs. The coach will help you understand different deposit options and manage your accounts to enhance your savings.

There are three types of ANZ first home loans - Standard Variable, Fixed, and Equity Manager. The features, interest rates, and terms for each are different, and you can compare them here.

When they apply for an ANZ home loan, first home buyers can also get guidance on applying for the First Home Owner Grant (FHOG). This is a one-off government grant that may be available to you when you’re buying your first home. The eligibility criteria for FHOG differs between the different states and territories, which is why it’s helpful to have expert advice when applying.

What is the Home Loan Rate Promise?

The Home Loan Rate Promise is RateCity putting its money where its mouth is. We believe that too many Australians are paying too much for their home loans. We’re so confident we can help Aussies save money, if we can’t beat your current rate, we’ll give you a $100 gift card.*

There are two reasons it pays to check your rate with the Home Loan Rate Promise:

  • You can find out how much you could save on your home loan by switching to a loan with a lower interest rate
  • If we can’t beat your current rate, you can claim a $100 gift card with our Home Loan Rate Promise*