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Methodology and assumptions

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Disclaimer: NerdWallet, Inc. is an independent publisher and comparison site, not an investment advisor. The interactive tools and information are provided for your independent use and informational purposes only. They are not intended to provide investment advice. We do not and cannot guarantee their accuracy or applicability to your individual circumstances. Examples are hypothetical and for informational purposes only. We encourage you to seek personalized advice from qualified professionals regarding specific personal finance issues. Our estimates are based on past market performance, and past performance is not a guarantee of future performance.


Your Money. This number is comprised of all linked checking, savings, investment and retirement account balances. It does not include home equity, automobiles or other assets, nor does it subtract any debts. You can see the accounts you have linked on the “Accounts” tab.

10-year projection. This is an estimate and not a guarantee of the future value of your money. To make this estimate, we start with the current balances of the checking, savings, investment and retirement accounts you’ve linked. We then factor in the assumed average growth rates listed below for each account type (not your accounts’ actual rates, which may be lower or higher than these assumed averages). We assume you don’t withdraw funds and that the estimated rates below remain unchanged.

  • Checking: Assumes 0% return.
  • Savings: Assumes a 0.06% annual percentage yield (APY) for low-yield accounts and 0.47% APY for high-yield accounts.
  • Investments: Assumes a 5% annual return.
  • Retirement: Assumes a 6% annual return.

Checking account rate is based on the fact that most standard checking accounts don’t earn interest. Low-yield savings account APY is based on the national average for savings accounts, per the FDIC as of September 20, 2021. High-yield savings account APY is based on the average APY of NerdWallet’s best savings accounts of September 2021. Investment and retirement return assumptions reflect the impact of taxes and are based on an 80/20 allocation across a diversified portfolio stocks and bonds.   

Contributions. This number includes all “new money” that goes into your linked savings, investment and retirement accounts. “New money” is defined as deposits, as well as transfers from your checking accounts.