The thing with compound interest is simple: it can either make or break your financial future. That might sound like an exaggeration but it really is that powerful. Today’s challenge is to learn (or refresh your knowledge) about compound interest and see where you have compounding interest affecting your finances positively or negatively.
Compound interest is nothing more than interest over interest over interest. When this happens over any savings or investments you have, this is generally a good thing as it means your capital is growing more each year. Instead of receiving interest over your original amount, you also get interest over any interest you have generated in past years. In this way if you have an investment account with an 8% annual return and an initial starting amount of $10,000 that amount will be worth $46,000 after 20 years. Continue reading →
Children cost money of course, even just their day-to-day expenses seem endless: clothes, food, extra activities and birthday parties to name just a few. But I take it for granted that if you have children, grandchildren or nieces / nephews (even if they are “adopted” and your friends’ children), that these expenses are covered in your budget, either in your regular categories, or under ‘presents’ if they aren’t your own children. If you haven’t yet got children, but are planning to have children, I again assume that by now you are financially savvy enough to have set up a savings account in order to pay for the initial “start up costs” for children: baby room decoration, push chair, car seats, clothes and all other assecories you’ll need.
But what about “later”? This might sound like a long time away still, but those children will at some point reach their 18th birthday and will go and try their luck in the real world, whether that is at college, travelling or trying a “real” job, there will come a time when they no longer depend on you (at least not officially – they might still come back home from time to time to ask for some extra money).
Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to give them something more than just a $50 bill when they leave the house, to get them set up? Or what about giving them something when they get married, buy their first house or have their first child.. Whatever it is that you decide, think about what you can do now to help them later. And remember that if you start on time you have the advantage to look ahead and use that best friend of ours: compounding interest to create a small fortune for your (grand)child(ren).
What and how to save
Let’s just calculate through some different scenarios to give you an idea on how to get started. For all of these we assume that you start contributing to these saving plans from the moment the baby is born (or let’s be realistic and say you do it as soon as your (grand)child is a month old).
Scenario 1: Open a savings account and set aside $10 a month. Assume an average return of 5% (which unfortunatley is not likely at the moment though!), an inflation rate of 2% and that you keep contributing $10 a month until you give the child the full amount. Your (grand)child would then receive the following amount: (numbers in 3rd and 4th column rounded to $50).
Total paid in
Nominal value at end
Adjusted for inflation
Not at all bad if you could give your (grand) child some $3550 when they turn 18 or even $6000 when they are 25.
Scenario 2: What about instead of opening a savings account (which is unlikely to give you anything close to 5% for a while), you put that money in an investment accout, assuming a 7% return and 2% inflation rate? That works out as follows:
Adjusted for inflation
As you can see, by just putting away $10 a month, even if you held it only til they were 18, you’d be able to give them more than $4300 or the equivalent of $3000 in today’s money.
Scenario 3: Of course, you might be able to set aside more than $10 a month. Let’s assume you’re lucky enough to live in a country that has a child benefit scheme in which you get some financial support from the government to help with the expenses for raising children. Imagine you were able to set all that money aside and invest it for your child? Child benefit varies greatly per country but let’s take the average of about $75 per month. Let’s assume we’ve still got an average of 7% return and 2% inflation rate. This is how much you’d have if you keep investing that child support:
Adjusted for inflation
By their 18th birthday you’d be able to give your child $32,500 (with a current value of $22,000)! That’s a small fortune to me and it for sure would be to most 18 year olds!
That said, child support is generally likely to adjust for inflation, meaning that you get $75 this year, but $76 next year and $77.50 the year after. As long as you keep adjusting your investments along with this, remember that you would then end up close to the nominal value anyway. In that case your child would receive around $32.500 on their 18th birthday.
Of course the above are just some examples of have careful financial planning might give your child a nice head start when they turn 18 or 21 or whatever age you decide. Maybe you can’t survive without the extra child benefit that you are receiviving and therefore can’t invest all of that money. But what about half of it? Or even just $25 a month? $10? Go back to the budgetting steps to read more about how to budget and to build in priorities to decide whether you really can’t or whether you decide to prioritize other goals for your money. Even just the $10 will still give your child a nice pot of money to start their adult life that not everybody gets.
Step 68 – Set aside Money for Children – in detail:
Let’s start with how many children, grandchildren, nieces / nephews or other children in your life you (might) have and who you’d like to help financially when they come of age.
Investigate and decide how much you can invest either monthly or yearly. Remember that if you have several children (or might have several children) or grandchildren, you probably want to set it up equally, so that you don’t invest $100 per month for child one and only $20 for child two. Plan ahead and try and keep it equal!
Open an investing account for each child but carefully check how to do the legal side: make sure you can open it in their name (in some cases only parents can do this). If you are a grandparent and you can’t open it in your grandchild’s name, consider opening it in your name, but stipulate the child as the beneficiary and make sure to include conditions in your will that the money is to go to the child when they turn 18 and not to your heirs.
Set up automatic payments into this investing account.
Remember that the earlier your start, the more time the interest can compound, but even if your (grand)child is a little or a lot older, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still open it.
Decide when you want to give the money or the original investing account to your child. Instead of giving them the money, consider that your child could just continue to grow the money. Tell you child beforehand so they can start planning on what to do with the money, as otherwise they might be tempted to take it all out and spend it in just one crazy weekend.
Remember to open a new account for any additional children
Saving / investing and seeing your money grow can be really rewarding, but there’s an extra sense of satisfaction you can get from setting money aside for somebody else, and seeing their fortune grow even before they are aware of it.
Stock markets have a vast selection of stocks and bonds that can be invested in and before deciding what to invest in, understanding the main differences between stocks and bonds well is absolutely key if you consider getting in the stock market. Investors can decide whether they want to invest in just shares, just bonds or whether to create their own mix of stocks and bonds. With time, many furthermore decide to slowly reallocate their investments, so even if you start with a certain percentage shares and bonds, this needn’t stay as such for the rest of your investment life.
Here we’ll look at the main differences between shares and bonds from an investor’s point of view and how they both offer different advantages and disadvantages.
Share prices vary more day-to-day but also over long periods of time: their value can increase or decrease fast.
Bonds are generally more price solid and fluctuate less over time and at a much slower pace than shares.
So we have thought about our first income stream, which was a wage coming from a paid job, as well as the possibilities of a second income stream in the form of profit income. For most people either of these might be their main and only income stream and they might have never thought of other sources of income. Yet there are five more possibilities and even though that doesn’t mean you need to pursue them all, it is always good to at least find out more..
Let’s have a closer look at a third income stream: interest income from money lent out. Money lending and borrowing isn’t usually free, as the lender runs a risk (they might never see their money again), so the person who borrows money is required to pay interest on the loan in return, to make lending money more attractive.
Now that you know all about the power of interest over time, are building (or have built) your emergency fund and have started paying down your debt, we are moving on to a new area of your finances: your savings. In the next few steps we will look at your savings in greater detail, but the first step for today is to open a (new) savings account.
Looking at the title and this introduction you might think can skip this step as you maybe already have a savings account, which you are of course free to do. But opening a new account starts with investigating what’s on the market and I recommend you at least read through this step and potentially still consider opening a new account, as it never kills to have more than one savings account, especially if they don’t involve any costs, and because it can be helpful to have different accounts allocated to different savings goals. Apart from that, it is also a good habit to compare saving accounts from time to time, to make sure you are still getting the best deal. And if you find out you aren’t getting the best conditions possible, it is a good moment to consider changing your savings money to a new account. Continue reading →
You have probably heard about compound interest, and might even feel you understand the notion of compound interest quite well, but since it is the key concept in some of the next steps and because the impact of compound interest over time might be far bigger than you realize, this entire step is dedicated to looking at how compound interest works.
In finance compound interest is one of the most powerful factors at work that by using time as it catalyst, can do one of two things:
keeping you poor by losing money on outstanding debts
making you richer by making more money with the money you already have
Let’s look at how compound interest works and how it generates this power over time. Continue reading →