The more often the interest is compounded, the higher your balance. You would earn more on a 4% interest rate that is compounded more than once a year (semi-annually) than on an 8% interest rate compounded annually.
Beginning balance: $100
4% interest compounded semi-annually:
First compounding period: 4% interest on $100 = 100 x 1.04 = $104
Second compounding period: 4% interest on $104 = 104 x 1.04 = $108.16
8% interest compounded annually: 100 x 1.08 = $108
Each time the interest is recalculated, it uses the old balance plus the newly accrued interest. The more you start with, the bigger and faster money grows. Even though 8% sounds better, the additional compounding period makes all the difference.
MORE MONEY GROWS FASTER
The more seed money you start with, the more interest it will generate. The interest grows more interest. And, if you keep feeding your investments with new money on top of the original investment, the interest has more to work with.
Choose investments that allow your money to grow at a comfortable rate for you. If you don’t want to take the risks needed to aim for an 8-10% return, you can invest in slower growth products, like bonds, that are less likely to lose money (if you hold them to maturity). Your money will be safer, but you also will have to contribute more if you want to reach a big number before you retire (at whatever age).
Plug numbers into a compound interest calculator and play around with varying rates of return (4%, 8%, 10%) over different time periods (10, 20, 30 years). What happens if you increase your contributions each year? If you contributed $1,000 last year, what if you contribute $1,050 this year? Over time, these slight adjustments can give you impressive results. And, yes, you might even be a millionaire — but you will have to make some sacrifices to get there.
As always, we’ve got your back. — The On Your Own Team