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How Small Investments Make a Big Impact Over Time

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See this visualization first on the Voronoi app.

This bar chart shows the power of compound interest and regular contributions over time.

How Small Investments Make a Big Impact Over Time

This was originally posted on our Voronoi app. Download the app for free on iOS or Android and discover incredible data-driven charts from a variety of trusted sources.

Time is an investor’s biggest ally, even if they start with just a modest portfolio.

The reason behind this is compounding interest, of course, thanks to its ability to magnify returns as interest earns interest on itself. With a fortune of $159 billion, Warren Buffett largely credits compound interest as a vital ingredient to his success—describing it like a snowball collecting snow as it rolls down a very long hill.

This graphic shows how compound interest can dramatically impact the value of an investor’s portfolio over longer periods of time, based on data from Investor.gov.

Why Compound Interest is a Powerful Force

Below, we show how investing $100 each month, with a 10% annual return starting at the age of 25 can generate outsized returns by simply staying the course:

AgeTotal ContributionsInterestPortfolio Value
25$1,300$10$1,310
30$7,300$2,136$9,436
35$13,300$9,223$22,523
40$19,300$24,299$43,599
45$25,300$52,243$77,543
50$31,300$100,910$132,210
55$37,300$182,952$220,252
60$43,300$318,743$362,043
65$49,300$541,101$590,401
70$55,300$902,872$958,172
75$61,300$1,489,172$1,550,472

Portfolio value is at end of each time period. All time periods are five years except for the first year (Age 25) which includes a $100 initial contribution. Interest is computed annually.

As we can see, the portfolio grows at a relatively slow pace over the first five years.

But as the portfolio continues to grow, the interest earned begins to exceed the contributions in under 15 years. That’s because interest is earned not only on the total contributions but on the accumulated interest itself. So by the age of 40, the total contributions are valued at $19,300 while the interest earned soars to $24,299.

Not only that, the interest earned soars to double the value of the investor’s contributions over the next five years—reaching $52,243 compared to the $25,300 in principal.

By the time the investor is 75, the power of compound interest becomes even more eye-opening. While the investor’s lifetime contributions totaled $61,300, the interest earned ballooned to 25 times that value, reaching $1,489,172.

In this way, it shows that investing consistently over time can benefit investors who stick it through stock market ups and downs.

The Two Key Ingredients to Growing Money

Generally speaking, building wealth involves two key pillars: time and rate of return.

Below, we show how these key factors can impact portfolios based on varying time horizons using a hypothetical example. Importantly, just a small difference in returns can make a huge impact on a portfolio’s end value:

Annual ReturnPortfolio Value
25 Year Investment Horizon
Portfolio Value
75 Year Investment Horizon
5%$57,611$911,868
8%$88,412$4,835,188
12%$161,701$49,611,684

With this in mind, it’s important to take into account investment fees which can erode the value of your investments.

Even the difference of 1% in investment fees adds up over time, especially over the long run. Say an investor paid 1% in fees, and had an after-fee return of 9%. If they had a $100 starting investment, contributed monthly over a 25-year time span, their portfolio would be worth over $102,000 at the end of the period.

By comparison, a 10% return would have made over $119,000. In other words, they lost roughly $17,000 on their investment because of fees.

Another important factor to keep in mind is inflation. In order to preserve the value of your portfolio, its important to choose investments that beat inflation, which has historically averaged around 3.3%.

For perspective, since 1974 the S&P 500 has returned 12.5% on average annually (including reinvested dividends), 10-Year U.S. Treasury bonds have returned 6.6%, while real estate has averaged 5.6%. As we can see, each of these have outperformed inflation over longer horizons, with varying degrees of risk and return.

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Money

How Debt-to-GDP Ratios Have Changed Since 2000

See how much the debt-to-GDP ratios of advanced economies have grown (or shrank) since the year 2000.

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How Debt-to-GDP Ratios Have Changed Since 2000

This was originally posted on our Voronoi app. Download the app for free on Apple or Android and discover incredible data-driven charts from a variety of trusted sources.

Government debt levels have grown in most parts of the world since the 2008 financial crisis, and even more so after the COVID-19 pandemic.

To gain perspective on this long-term trend, we’ve visualized the debt-to-GDP ratios of advanced economies, as of 2000 and 2024 (estimated). All figures were sourced from the IMF’s World Economic Outlook.

Data and Highlights

The data we used to create this graphic is listed in the table below. “Government gross debt” consists of all liabilities that require payment(s) of interest and/or principal in the future.

Country2000 (%)2024 (%)Change (pp)
🇯🇵 Japan135.6251.9+116.3
🇸🇬 Singapore82.3168.3+86.0
🇺🇸 United States55.6126.9+71.3
🇬🇧 United Kingdom36.6105.9+69.3
🇬🇷 Greece104.9160.2+55.3
🇫🇷 France58.9110.5+51.6
🇵🇹 Portugal54.2104.0+49.8
🇪🇸 Spain57.8104.7+46.9
🇸🇮 Slovenia25.966.5+40.6
🇫🇮 Finland42.476.5+34.1
🇭🇷 Croatia35.461.8+26.4
🇨🇦 Canada80.4103.3+22.9
🇨🇾 Cyprus56.070.9+14.9
🇦🇹 Austria65.774.0+8.3
🇸🇰 Slovak Republic50.556.5+6.0
🇩🇪 Germany59.364.0+4.7
🇧🇪 Belgium109.6106.8-2.8
🇮🇱 Israel77.456.8-20.6
🇮🇸 Iceland75.854.6-21.2

The debt-to-GDP ratio indicates how much a country owes compared to the size of its economy, reflecting its ability to manage and repay debts. Percentage point (pp) changes shown above indicate the increase or decrease of these ratios.

Countries with the Biggest Increases

Japan (+116 pp), Singapore (+86 pp), and the U.S. (+71 pp) have grown their debt as a percentage of GDP the most since the year 2000.

All three of these countries have stable, well-developed economies, so it’s unlikely that any of them will default on their growing debts. With that said, higher government debt leads to increased interest payments, which in turn can diminish available funds for future government budgets.

This is a rising issue in the U.S., where annual interest payments on the national debt have surpassed $1 trillion for the first time ever.

Only 3 Countries Saw Declines

Among this list of advanced economies, Belgium (-2.8 pp), Iceland (-21.2 pp), and Israel (-20.6 pp) were the only countries that decreased their debt-to-GDP ratio since the year 2000.

According to Fitch Ratings, Iceland’s debt ratio has decreased due to strong GDP growth and the use of its cash deposits to pay down upcoming maturities.

See More Debt Graphics from Visual Capitalist

Curious to see which countries have the most government debt in dollars? Check out this graphic that breaks down $97 trillion in debt as of 2023.

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