Top 3 Compound Interest Examples

Compound Interest - the financial tool that when used correctly, can be THE financial game changer that will make your hard earned money work for you! Coming up, 3 compound interest examples - each using a real world example of how compound interest can either work with you, or against you!

Compound Interest Making Money Work For You

I need to see some compound interest examples to see if it affects me. That’s why you are here, right? Let me preview this post by stating ‘I don’t know a single person unaffected by compound interest’. In fact, learning about this topic can transform your financial future. The following post will give you 3 compound interest examples. Each using a real world example on how compound interest can either work with you, or against you! With a preview like this, I know you are just like this wee guy so harness your inner kid positivity and read on:)

Just what is Compound Interest?

Compound Interest is a mathematical rule that over time means you either pay much more for the money your borrow (credit) or it earns you much more for investments/savings.  For borrowing, you pay interest not only on the initial amount but, the interest applied in previous weeks/months/years. The longer the loan, the worse it is for your financial health.

For saving, it’s a positive flip where you earn interest on both the money you’ve saved and the interest you earn. To help understand what this means in the real world, let’s work through three common compound interest examples.

Compound Interest Examples [1]: Vacation Time

Say ‘Hi’ to Dan. Dan has worked hard all year and wants to spend a week vacationing in the entertainment capital of the US, Las Vegas. Dan is smart. He uses price comparison websites to get cheap return flights to Las Vegas. He also scores an online deal to stay at a swanky hotel. After a week partying, flights, accommodation, and entertainment have put a $3K sized dent on his credit card. Although Dan avoided ‘the house’ winning too much, is Dan still smart?

Compound interest examples [1] - welcome to Las Vegas

In short, it depends on his credit card management skills. Let’s assume an interest rate of 15%. If ‘Responsible Dan’ demolishes his credit card debt by paying $500 off each month, he’ll be debt free in under seven months and only have paid $138.53 in interest. Go Dan, you didn’t allow Las Vegas or compound interest to harm your wallet too much!

However, if ‘Frivolous Dan’ pays just his 2% minimum credit card payment each month, it will take him 264 months (22 years!) to finally clear the debt. For his original $3000, he will have paid (and this is astonishing), $4,184.52 in interest payments on top of that. That is the power of compound interest working against you. And we wonder how the bankers keep getting richer!

Compound Interest Examples [2]: Car Loan

Meet Jane. Jane wants to own her own car and has a credit rating to allow her to get a car loan. After hours of haggling, she agrees to buy the car of her dreams. Jane is so happy, she’s balancing precariously out of her car below.  Should she be happy? How will compound interest effect her bank balance in the future?

Compound interest examples [2] - new car

Sorry, couldn’t help myself but this was a trick question! Thankfully, car loans don’t compound – you only pay a % of the loan amount. Let’s say Jane took out a loan of $20K at a loan rate of 4.5%. To keep her monthly payments down, her loan is for 5 years. She would pay $373 dollars each month. Not too bad, but over the 5 years, she will shell out $2,372 in interest charges.

Jane’s cheer is, therefore, fitting but would be more so if she gave a bigger deposit or reduced the length of the loan. Reducing the loan length to 30 months reduces interest paid to $1,184. That $1188 saved would buy Jane a lot of furry dice. If you want to calculate this yourself, try this handy car loan calculator.

Compound Interest Examples [3]: Retire Early

Jen and Darryl are next up. Even though they are in their 20’s, they are already thinking ahead to retirement. They suspect they may need more than their work pensions to live comfortably from. Question is, should they start early, wait until their 30’s or even their 40’s? The key thing about compound interest is that time is incredibly important. Consider the following chart for an investment value of $300 per month:

Compound interest examples [3] - retire early

As you can see, starting as early as 25 (with a realistic return rate of 5%) will net close to half a million by 65. The same couple starting 10 years later would get back just over $250K. Starting later still (at 45), even upping payments to $600 each month gets nowhere near the early starters!


Compound Interest: THE Financial Game Changer

I hope the compound interest examples above drive home how important this concept is. And how ever present compound interest is in our lives. Don’t take my word for it! A little-known guy called Albert Einstein highlighted its importance when he said the following: “Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it … he who doesn’t … pays it.


Please comment below and remember to keep checking in with Wealth-Hack. Our goal is to build on Einstein’s 8th wonder and create advice that will help you overcome your finances and live a more rewarding life.

James BurnsFounder @ Wealth-Hack
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  1. Cool site! The examples helped me understand this. If I have got this right, the earlier I start savingthe more compound interest will help me. I am late 20’s and have a work 401K, how do I know if I am doing enough?

    1. Hey Jen, thanks for posting and great question. To give this question the respect it deserves will take time and I am going to create posts in the future that speak to this in some detail. However, at a high level, the fact you have started thinking this through in your 20’s gives you a massive advantage. As you can see from the chart above, the more time you allow compound interest to work its magic, the more powerful it becomes.

      You can take steps to maximize this effect. The most obvious one is to take full advantage of your work 401K. If your employer ‘match funds’ you up to a certain %, this is essentially like a wage rise. Whatever % they match you to, if you can afford it, match that % and watch your contributions grow. Try this handy wee calculator to see if you are missing out on benefits that may help you retire earlier!

      Please watch this space for further articles in the series which should help you understand if you are setup for financial success or if you need to take action. Thanks again for posting to Wealth-Hack. James.

Top 3 Compound Interest Examples

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