Using this compound interest calculator
Your savings account balances and investments can grow more quickly over time through the magic of compounding. Use the compound interest calculator above to see how big a difference it could make for you.
Try your calculations both with and without a monthly contribution — say, $50 to $200, depending on what you can afford.
Here’s a deeper look at how compounding works:
What is compound interest?
For savers, the definition of compound interest is basic: It’s the interest you earn on both your original money and on the interest you keep accumulating. Compound interest allows your savings to grow ever faster over time.
In an account that pays compound interest, such as a standard savings account, the return gets added to the original principal at the end of every compounding period, typically daily or monthly. Each time interest is calculated and added to the account, the larger balance results in more interest earned than before.
For example, if you put $10,000 into a savings account with a 1% annual yield, compounded daily, you’d earn $101 in interest the first year, $102 the second year, $103 the third year and so on. After 10 years of compounding, you would have earned a total of $1,052 in interest.
Compounding investment returns
When you invest in the stock market, you don’t earn a set interest rate but rather a return based on the change in the value of your investment. When the value of your investment goes up, you earn a return.
If you leave your money and the returns you earn invested in the market, those returns are compounded over time in the same way that interest is compounded.
If you invested $10,000 in a mutual fund and the fund earned a 7% return for the year, you’d gain $700, and your investment would be worth $10,700. If you got an average 7% return the following year, your investment would then be worth $11,449.
Over the years, that money can really add up: If you kept that money in a retirement account over 30 years and earned that average 7% return, for example, your $10,000 would grow to more than $76,000.
In reality, investment returns will vary year to year and even day to day. In the short term, riskier investments such as stocks or stock mutual funds may actually lose value. But over a long time horizon, history shows that a diversified growth portfolio can return an average of 6% to 7% annually. Investment returns are typically shown at an annual rate of return.
Compounding can help fulfill your long-term savings and investment goals, especially if you have time to let it work its magic over years or decades. You can earn far more than what you started with.
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Compounding with additional contributions
As impressive as compound interest might be, progress on savings goals also depends on making steady contributions.
Let’s go back to the example above. By depositing an additional $100 each month into your savings account, you’d end up with $23,677 after 10 years, when compounded daily. The interest would be $1,677 on total deposits of $22,000.