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What is the value of compound interest?

Compound interest can have a dramatic effect on the growth of an investment. Use this interest calculator to illustrate the impact of compound interest on the future value of an asset.

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Simple And Compound Interest

Perhaps you have heard of the miracle of compounding. Innumerable investors have used it to their advantage to make their money grow faster than would be the case with simple interest. The great thing about compounding is that it doesn't require additional work on your part: you just sit back and watch your money grow. How's that for an investment strategy?

There are two basic types of interest: simple and compound. Simple interest is the amount of interest earned on the original amount of money invested. Simple interest is paid out as it is earned and does not become part of an account's interest-bearing balance. The invested amount is called principal. Let's say you invest $100 (the principal) at a yearly interest rate of 5 percent. Multiplying the principal by the interest rate gives you an interest payment of $5. This is your simple interest. The next year and each year thereafter, you will be paid $5 of interest on the principal of $100.

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Make Compounding Work For You

Taking advantage of compound interest need not be a passive strategy on your part. The bigger your investment base, the more that time and math will conspire to build up your wealth. That is why investment advisors suggest taking advantage of time and a schedule of periodic investing. The results build on themselves.

You can maximize the power of compounding by following a few easy strategies:

  • Invest early. The longer your money has time to work for you, the better compounding works. In fact, the effect is far more dramatic the earlier you begin and the longer you stay invested. So, the sooner you can begin investing, the more interest or dividends, and hence growth of your principal, you will accumulate through compounding.
  • Invest often. Adding to your investments on a regular basis such as monthly or weekly can build your wealth quickly. The accumulation builds the base on which your interest is calculated. To stay on a schedule for periodic investing, some people take part in automatic investment plans, in which money is taken out of their deposit accounts and put into their chosen investments.
  • Reinvest your dividends. If you own shares in a stock or mutual fund, you may be able to reinvest your dividends into more shares. This continues to build your investment base, allowing you to compound your return. It's putting your new income to work for you.
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Compounded Interest and Taxes

It will not do you a whole lot of good to compound the interest on your investments only to watch it get taken by the IRS. Fortunately, there are a few ways to compound your interest and avoid paying more tax than necessary.

Unless you invest in a tax-sheltered account, you will have to pay taxes on any investment interest at your regular income tax rate. Interest rates paid on savings/checking accounts and bonds, as well as dividends (shared profits), are all generally taxable. This could mean around 30–35 percent in both state and federal taxes. So a 10 percent rate of return could end up being closer to 6 percent after taxes.

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PlannerPortal - Financial Software for Financial Advisors

This information may help you analyze your financial needs. It is based on information and assumptions provided by you regarding your goals, expectations and financial situation. The calculations do not infer that the company assumes any fiduciary duties. The calculations provided should not be construed as financial, legal or tax advice. In addition, such information should not be relied upon as the only source of information. This information is supplied from sources we believe to be reliable but we cannot guarantee its accuracy. Hypothetical illustrations may provide historical or current performance information. Past performance does not guarantee nor indicate future results.