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How do I calculate my investment returns?

Investing is a great way to grow your wealth and secure your financial future. However, understanding how your investments are performing is crucial in order to make informed decisions. One key factor in evaluating the success of your investments is calculating your investment returns. In this article, we will explore the various methods and formulas you can use to calculate your investment returns accurately.

Understanding investment returns

Before diving into the calculations, it’s important to understand what investment returns actually represent. Investment returns measure the profitability of an investment over a given period of time. They indicate the gain or loss you have made on your investment and are typically expressed as a percentage.

Simple return

The simplest way to calculate your investment returns is by using the simple return formula. This formula is particularly useful for investments with a single cash flow, such as stocks or bonds. To calculate the simple return, subtract the initial investment amount from the final investment value, then divide the result by the initial investment amount.

Compound annual growth rate (CAGR)

For more complex investments that have multiple cash flows, such as mutual funds or real estate, the compound annual growth rate (CAGR) is a more accurate measure of investment returns. CAGR takes into account the time value of money and provides a more realistic representation of how your investment has performed over a specific period.

To calculate the CAGR, divide the final investment value by the initial investment value, raise the result to the power of 1 divided by the number of years, and subtract 1 from the result. This formula will give you the annualized rate of return for your investment.

Total return

In some cases, you may want to include the dividends or interest earned from your investments in your calculations. This is where the total return formula comes in handy. Total return takes into account both the capital appreciation of your investment and any income generated from it.

To calculate the total return, add the change in investment value to any income earned from the investment, then divide the result by the initial investment amount. Multiply the final result by 100 to convert it into a percentage.

Considerations for accurate calculations

When calculating your investment returns, it’s important to consider a few factors that can affect the accuracy of your results.

Time period: The time period you choose for your calculations can significantly impact your investment returns. It’s important to use the same time period consistently for all your investments to ensure accurate comparisons.

Inflation: Inflation erodes the purchasing power of your money over time. To get a true sense of your investment returns, it’s important to adjust for inflation by subtracting the inflation rate from your calculated returns.

Fees and expenses: Investment fees and expenses can eat into your returns. Be sure to deduct any fees or expenses from your investment returns to get a more accurate picture of your actual profits.


Calculating your investment returns is an essential step in evaluating the success of your investments. By using the appropriate formulas and considering factors such as time period, inflation, and fees, you can accurately measure the profitability of your investments. Understanding your investment returns will enable you to make informed decisions and optimize your investment strategy for long-term success.