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The Hewlett Packard 12C is a FINANCIAL calculator. HP makes newer and faster hand held calculators and others are made by different companies. But this has become a standard in the industry. It does present and future value of money. In other words, it can calculate how much money you will have in the future given either (or both) a lump sum or monthly contribution of funds over a period of time at given rates of return. Or how much money that you will receive in the future is worth to you now. For example, assume you have $400,000 to invest. $50,000 goes into one investment at 6% compounded quarterly; $150,000 into one at 9% compounded daily and the rest at 7% for the 1st year, 9% for the 2nd, then -12%, 23% and 5% all compounded annually. $75,000 was taken out at the end of the 3rd year. How much do you have at the end of five years? What's it worth when discounted at inflation plus 3 pts?

The point is that either you can do this calculation or, if not, your advisor must have the ability. If he/she can't do this, then they are probably incompetent- certainly lacking in the fundamentals of investing. And if you then still insist on using them- now you are both stupid. The end result can be disaster. Can you still make money though? Sure. Luck and statistics may win out. Stocks have historically provided good returns. However, you probably ended up buying the wrong thing for the wrong reason at the wrong time and at the wrong risk level. You undoubtedly ended up paying higher income and estate taxes and probably provided real nice commissions and/or fat fees to a twit. That is not being very bright. So? So

Never, NEVER, NEVER GIVE MONEY TO ANYONE UNLESS THEY HAVE AND CAN EFFECTIVELY UTILIZE AN HP 12C CALCULATOR OR SIMILAR

If you or your adviser does not have and cannot use a financial calculator, then he/she does not understand money. You are committing financial/economic suicide when you entrust money to someone who doesn't know how it works.

Use of a financial calculator is NOT taught in traditional training classes to securities brokers, insurance agents, attorneys or many others who say they know money and investments. To my knowledge, it is not even being offered as a basic continuing education course for securities or insurance agents. An attorney might have one for use as a door stop. It's certainly not taught to bank employees. It is taught to Certified Planners, ChFC's, CFA's, MBA's and the like but you must make sure they have stayed current in its use. Admittedly, computer programs can do some of the calculations (Quicken and the like), but the personal capability is mandatory if you don't want to get screwed.

(1999 Addendum: From an instructor at the College for Financial Planning- " I spoke with a number of "CFP" students who said that they didn't see the value of learning the time value of money on a calculator since they used a computer at work. I agree with you that if you can't use the calculator, you probably don't know what you are talking about. The process of using the calculator helps you learn what result to expect.")

And from a stats professor- "you can use any calculator program on a test as long as you write the program. Otherwise you "don't know dirt about what the program tells to you".

(Click above or below for basic instructions for using the HP12C- two different sites)  

(And from FORBES regarding my comments on calculator competency- "Excellent advice: either they don't understand money or they aren't interested.")

Demanding this competency will easily eliminate at least 85% of the twits in the securities, insurance, investment and financial planning field- including yourself. It doesn't mean that the rest know everything or can guarantee success, but it certainly is a much better place to start.

Now you can go watch TV

Disclaimer: This page is NOT sponsored by Hewlett Packard- though one day I hope it will be so they will send me lots of money.

HP12c Instruction Manual Download 

Professional Real Estate Problem Solving Using the HP 12C
by John A. Tirone (Spiral-bound - November 1996)
Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars
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Professional Real Estate Problem Solving Using the Hp17Bii
by John A. Tirone (Hardcover - November 1994)
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
Special Order

The Home Buyer Income Qualification Manual, Includes Comprehensive HP 17B and HP 19B Routines
by John A. Tirone (Spiral-bound - November 1989)
Special Order

The Home Buyer Income Qualification Manual, 1991 Supplement - Includes Comprehensive HP 17BII and HP 19BII Routines
by John A. Tirone (Paperback - October 1991)
Special Order

HP12C  H&P offers free lesson modules which explain step by step every problem solving function of its financial calculators.

NOTE: I became aware that several have had problems with commas. That is probably due to the HP Platinum series (much newer than mine) when using the program function (which can be turned on inadvertently). To correct the "problem", do CLX, f, PRGM while in the programming mode.

Or it could have been inadvertently set in the European mode. That's where $1,000.00 would end up looking like $1.000,00.  To change to the American mode, turn the calculator OFF.  Then press and hold down the decimal point key. While still pressing this, turn the calculator on. Then release the ON button and then release the decimal point key.

Wasn't that fun?

Send me money. NOW!