Years: The number of years you wish to analyze. This can be any number from one to one hundred.
Rate of return: This is the annually compounded rate of return you expect from your investments before taxes. The actual rate of return is largely dependent on the type of investments you select. From January 1970 to December 2008, the average annual compounded rate of return for the S&P 500, including reinvestment of dividends, was approximately 9.7% (source: www.standardandpoors.com). During this period, the highest 12-month return was 61%, from June 1982 through June 1933. The lowest 12-month return was -39%, which happened twice, once from September 1973 to September 1974 and again from November 2007 to November 2008. Savings accounts at a bank may pay as little as 1% or less but carry significantly lower risk of loss of principal balances.
It is important to remember that future rates of return can't be predicted with certainty and that investments that pay higher rates of return are generally subject to higher risk and volatility. The actual rate of return on investments can vary widely over time, especially for long-term investments. This includes the potential loss of principal on your investment. It is not possible to invest directly in an index and the compounded rate of return noted above does not reflect sales charges and other fees that funds and/or investment companies may charge.
Compound Interest: Interest on an investment's interest, plus previous interest. The more frequently this occurs, the sooner your accumulated interest will generate additional interest. You should check with your financial institution to find out how often interest is being compounded on your particular investment.
Initial investment: Total you currently have invested that should be included in this analysis.
Inflation rate: What you expect for the average long-term inflation rate. A common measure of inflation in the U.S. is the Consumer Price Index (CPI), which has a long-term average of 3.1% annually, from 1925 through 2008. The CPI for 2008 was 4.0%, as reported by the Minneapolis Federal Reserve.
Annual investments: The amount you will contribute each year to your investments. If you check the box to adjust this amount for inflation, your annual investment will increase each year by the inflation rate.
Tax rate: The percentage of your investment return you will pay in taxes. Your taxes are assumed to be payable annually, at the end of the year.
Compounded interest return: Total after-tax return if your investment profit is compounded annually.
Simple interest return: Total after-tax return if your investment profit is simple interest with no compounding.
Total invested capital: Total you have invested. This includes your initial investment and all periodic investments.
Investment final total: Your investments total ending value. If you have checked the box to show values after inflation, this amount is the total value of your investment in today's dollars. If this box is unchecked, it will show the actual value of the investment.
Information and interactive calculators are made available to you as self-help tools for your independent use and are not intended to provide investment advice. We can not and do not guarantee their applicability or accuracy in regard to your individual circumstances. All examples are hypothetical and are for illustrative purposes. We encourage you to seek personalized advice from qualified professionals regarding all personal finance issues.