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Understanding Compound Interest

Compound interest is the interest on a loan or deposit calculated based on both the initial principal and the accumulated interest from previous periods. It is a powerful financial tool that can help investors grow their wealth over time, as long as they understand how it works and use it to their advantage.

How Does Compound Interest Work?

Compound interest is calculated by adding the interest earned in each period to the principal, so that the interest in the next period is based on a larger amount. This process repeats over time, leading to exponential growth in the balance.

For example, if an investor has a deposit of $100 with an interest rate of 10% per year, after one year, the balance would be $110 ($100 + $10 in interest). In the second year, the interest would be calculated based on the new balance of $110, resulting in a balance of $121 ($110 + $11 in interest). This process continues, leading to larger and larger returns over time.

Advantages of Compound Interest

The biggest advantage of compound interest is its ability to generate significant returns over long periods of time. For example, if an investor were to make a deposit of $100 and earn a 10% return per year for 20 years, the balance would grow to over $674, assuming no withdrawals or additional deposits.

Another advantage of compound interest is that it allows investors to earn passive income. Once the initial deposit has been made, the investor can sit back and watch their balance grow, without having to do anything additional. This is a great way to save for retirement, as it provides a steady stream of income that can be used to cover living expenses.

Drawbacks of Compound Interest

While compound interest is a powerful tool, it can also be a double-edged sword. If an investor takes on debt with compound interest, they may find themselves paying more and more each month as the interest grows, potentially leading to financial hardship.

Additionally, compound interest can be difficult to understand and calculate, making it challenging for investors to know exactly how much they will owe or how much they will earn. This can lead to surprises and disappointment if the investor does not understand the details of the investment.


Compound interest is a powerful tool for growing wealth, but it is important to understand how it works and the potential drawbacks. By being informed and making smart decisions, investors can use compound interest to their advantage and secure a comfortable financial future.


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