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Top 3 Uses for a Business Calculator

Top 3 Uses for a Business Calculator

Linsey Knerl
Reading time: 9 minutes
With most entrepreneurs owning computers, it may not seem necessary to also own a stand alone business calculator. However, these gadgets have unique uses that make them a vital tool for many aspects of a business. The three most common applications for a business calculator include:
1. Business and financial calculations
2. Time and data management
3. Statistical calculations
These calculators also have a variety of functions and features. Learning more about what they offer can help you pick the right one for you. Whether you run a real estate business, handle mortgages, or deal in the stock market, these tools can be a benefit to helping you own your day.
First let’s take a look at what you should keep in mind while you shop for a business calculator, then we’ll examine the four best options from HP®.

What is a business calculator?

A business calculator works like any other calculator in that it is a stand alone solution for performing math functions on-the-go. You don’t need to have a computer or connected device to use one, and its functions are business-focused and designed with financial professionals in mind.
Some of the more advanced models may have the same features as a scientific or graphing calculator. At a minimum, it can do the most common financial calculations with a one-line display and “quick” buttons to create less work. A business calculator rarely requires an “equal” button input to get an answer.
While there are many virtual business calculators available online, there’s not one that does all of the functions that a physical, portable financial calculator can handle. You may find one on a website that does amortization, for example, but not one that also calculates coefficients and remembers your doctor’s appointment.
The right business calculator can stand in for a computer, smartphone, and organizer for all matters financial. They are a respected tool for all business professionals, students, and those working in the most complicated economic advising positions.

Features of a business calculator

Perks to look for in a business calculator include buttons set apart at a reasonable distance, a button size that fits your hand, and clear labeling on each button. It should have good battery life and work at any angle, too. It should also be light, portable, and allow you to store your most-used information in its memory.
A business calculator should offer the necessary financial and statistical formulas already stored inside, so you won’t need to look them up. Some form of time or date management, such as a calendar, can be handy as well. More advanced calculators may also offer graphing or chart rendering of the information.

Best ways to use a business calculator

There are many reasons to own a business calculator, but if you’re a business professional, your model should at least perform the following three functions.

1. Business and financial calculations

While different business niches may require unique calculations, almost every field requires the same dozen or so basic equations. A good business calculator has these stored inside so that you can just press a button and find the solution.
Typical business and financial calculations that your calculator can perform include:
  • TVM (time value of money) - This category of calculations includes anything in the savings and loan sphere. The most common function is computing variable compounding interest for a set number of periods within a year.
  • Amortization - Easily calculate how much interest accrues each period in a loan, the amount of principal paid, and the length of a loan. Anyone in the lending or mortgage business will need this function.
  • Bonds - Figure out the price of a bond and how long until maturity with a good business calculator. Find out the value at maturity as well.
  • Cash flow analysis - One of the most common uses for a business calculator, this will get the net present value (NPV), net future value (NFV), and internal rate of return (IRR).
  • Interest rate conversions - This turns your device into an adjunct loan calculator so you receive quick answers for what happens to a loan when the rate changes. You can also use the calculator to determine monthly payments.
Additional business functions include percent of change in a financial asset, depreciation, and markup.

2. Time and data management

Even if you rely on your smartphone or a paper calendar to alert you to upcoming appointments, many financial pros store this info in their calculators, too. Today’s business calculators are ideal for keeping appointments and setting alarms because they can be carried anywhere and are always charged and ready to go.
Another feature that business professionals love is the date conversion functions, which let them add or subtract days or even months to get the correct date years from now. "Date arithmetic," as it's referred to, is especially handy when figuring long-term loans or amortization schedules. You’ll be able to find out exactly what day a loan will end with the touch of a button.
Financial calculators also store all kinds of text, including to-do lists, addresses, names, and phone numbers. Used as a portable file, you can quickly retrieve data, edit or search lists, and even sort your information to find outdated info. Calculators make excellent storage devices.
You can also store an incredible list of numbers in the calculator. Whether you want to save the calculations you made last week (or last year), your subtotals can all be safely stored for when you need them. Copy, rename, and sort lists as you wish.

3. Statistical calculations

These functions may not be as commonly used as the financial functions, but they are equally valuable. You never know when you may need to perform a statistical computation, so having these pre-programmed can save time and frustration. Common functions for a financial calculator include:
  • Standard deviation, mean, and weighted mean
  • Forecasting, coefficient, and correlation
  • Trigonometry, probability, and hyperbolics
  • Square roots, exponents, and Pi
Complicated statistical formulas can be attempted, saved for later, and rechecked at any point. The beauty of a business calculator is that you can break down more involved equations into manageable chunks as you see fit.

Additional business calculator functions

There may be a few extra perks that today’s financial calculators offer. Some will create visual graphs or charts. Others may connect to your PC to transmit data for safe storage. These are generally more common features of scientific calculators, however.
If you plan to use your calculator for the ins and outs of the business world, the functions mentioned above are likely what you’ll need most.

4 best business calculator picks

There are many calculators available for financial and business purposes. Depending on your budget, you can find them with an assortment of features. Expect to pay more for more functions, a larger display, and better overall aesthetic design.
These HP® picks are favorites among business professionals and have earned favorable reviews for reliability and quality of design.

1. HP 10bII+ financial calculator

Looking for an entry-level financial calculator that’s affordable and has all the bells and whistles you may need? This HP business calculator offers professional calculation tasks for any one type of business. With dedicated keys for common functions, you'll need fewer buttons to find the answers to your most pressing problems. The HP 10bII+ financial calculator gives you 10 types of financial and statistical calculations in seconds and more than 170 built-in functions.
This calculator displays 12 digits with one line and can store up to 22 numbers in the memory for quick retrieval later. Speaking of the display, it offers adjustable contrast to clearly showcase your information in all types of lighting situations. It's also the first in its class to offer probability distributions to anyone who needs them.
You’ll get up to 365 hours of use with the included batteries, which are assisted by the 5-minute auto-off feature that helps save energy when idle. Plus, the power-off memory protection saves your stats if you switch it off by accident.
The calculator performs the most common functions for professionals in banking, accounting, general math, real estate, science, and statistics fields. Top functions include amortization, depreciation, break-even analysis, date calculations, and much more.
Students who need a calculator for their upper level college math courses will find this to be a useful transition tool for use in business after graduation.

2. HP 12C financial programmable calculator

Professionals in the financial industry will find the HP 12C financial programmable calculator to be a very reliable tool for making quick calculations of more than 120 built-in functions. From cash flows to depreciation, this business calculator requires fewer button pushes thanks to the easy equations and 20-number memory register.
This calculator offers a bright, one-line LCD display that shows up to seven digits. It's also allowed on the CFP and CFA certification exams and the GARP FRM exam. This time-tested favorite is a go-to tool for anyone working in finance.

3. HP 12C Platinum financial programmable calculator

An upgrade from the original version, the HP 12C Platinum financial programmable calculator has a more modern design and memory for up to 20 cash flows. You’ll get more than 130 of the most common financial functions, too, including depreciation methods, percent of change, and percent of total.
Program up to 388 keystrokes for the ultimate in personalization and use the handy backspace key when you need it. User reviews rave about the speed of this version, too.

4. HP 17bII+ financial calculator

This top performer offers more functions than almost any other in its class, giving users 250 to choose from with shortcuts for repeated equations. Get amortization, rate conversions, cash flows, time value of money, and much more with just a button push or two.
With 28KB of user memory, the HP 17bII+ financial calculator can store your most-repeated digits for later. An algebraic data entry system accompanies the clock and appointment calendar, and up to 22 characters can be displayed on each of the two lines with adjustable contrast.
This calculator is ideal for anyone in real estate, banking, and economics and has been approved for use on the CFP Certification exam. The beautiful carbonite and alloy metallic case offers a stylish touch, too.

Tips for buying a business calculator

There are many products on the market advertised for colleges, scientists, and business pros. The one you choose will depend on your needs and not necessarily how the product is marketed. The best small business calculator is the one that will do the functions you use most in your business. Any extras are only as vital as you deem them.
Before you shop, ask yourself these questions:
  • Do I need a stand-alone device?
  • What calculations do I perform most often?
  • How much battery life do I need?
  • How many numbers will I need to store?
  • Is appearance important?
  • Will I use it for my calendar and meeting reminders?
  • What professional tests or exams will I be taking in the future?
  • What is my budget?
  • How big of a display do I want?
By making a list of the things you need most, you can narrow down your choices quite easily. There are likely just a handful of financial calculators that will be a good fit for your business.

Learning to use the calculator

These calculators can be intimidating if you’re not accustomed to using one. The more features a financial calculator offers, the more daunting the task of becoming familiar can be. Most HP financial calculators come with resources to help you master the functions and become a pro at the features.
Many of the calculators have the shortcuts to popular functions printed on the underside of the calculator itself. Others come with user manuals that can walk you through programming. Don’t hesitate to reach out to the HP business center for more ideas for making the most of your new financial calculator.
The free tools available include:
  • Videos
  • Emulators
  • Interactive tutorials
  • Learning modules
  • Links to external resources
Don’t be afraid to give some of these resources a try before you buy as well. Knowing how a calculator will function in the real world is one of the best ways to know if it is the right product for you.

About the Author

Linsey Knerl is a contributing writer for HP® Tech Takes. Linsey is a Midwest-based author, public speaker, and member of the ASJA. She has a passion for helping consumers and small business owners do more with their resources via the latest tech solutions.

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