14 Oct Rule of 72
What Is the Rule of 72?
The Rule of 72 is a quick, useful formula that is popularly used to estimate the number of years required to double the invested money at a given annual rate of return.
While calculators and spreadsheet programs like excel sheets have inbuilt functions to accurately calculate the precise time required to double the invested money, the Rule of 72 comes in handy for mental calculations to quickly gauge an approximate value. Alternatively, it can compute the annual rate of compounded return from an investment given how many years it will take to double the investment
- The Rule of 72 is a simplified way to estimate the doubling of an investment’s value, based on a logarithmic formula.
- The Rule of 72 can be applied to investments, inflation or anything that grows, such as GDP or population.
- The formula is useful for understanding the effect of compound interest.
How to Calculate the Rule of 72 If an investment scheme promises an 8% annual compounded rate of return, it will take approximately (72 / 8) = 9 years to double the invested money. Note that a compound annual return of 8% is plugged into this equation as 8, and not 0.08, giving a result of nine years (and not 900).
The formula has emerged as a simplified version of the original logarithmic calculation that involves complex functions like taking the natural log of numbers. The rule applies to the exponential growth of an investment based on a compounded rate of return.
To find out exactly how long it would take to double an investment that returns 8% annually, you would use the following equation:
- T = ln(2) / ln(1 + (8 / 100)) = 9.006 years, which is very close to the approximate value obtained by (72 / 8) = 9 years
Since people cannot do logarithmic functions instantly without the help of log tables or scientific calculators, they can rely on the simpler version that uses the factor of 72 and gets almost the same result. If it takes 9 years to double a $1,000 investment, then the investment will grow to $2,000 in year 9, $4,000 in year 18, $8,000 in year 27, and so on.
What Does the Rule of 72 Tell You?
People love money, and they love it more to see the money getting double. Getting a rough estimate of how much time it will take to double the money also helps the average Joe to compare investments. However, mathematical calculations can be complex for common individuals to compute how much time is required for their money to double from a particular investment that promises a certain rate of return. The Rule of 72 offers a useful shortcut since the equations related to compound interest are too complicated for most people to do without a calculator.
Examples of How to Use the Rule of 72
The unit does not necessarily have to be invested or loaned money. The Rule of 72 could apply to anything that grows at a compounded rate, such as population, macroeconomic numbers, charges or loans. If the gross domestic product (GDP) grows at 4% annually, the economy will be expected to double in 72 ÷ 4 = 18 years.
With regards to the fee that eats into investment gains, the Rule of 72 can be used to demonstrate the long-term effects of these costs. A mutual fund that charges 3% in annual expense fees will reduce the investment principal to half in around 24 years. A borrower who pays 12% interest on his credit card (or any other form of loans which is charging compound interest) will double the amount he owes in six years.
The rule can also be used to find the amount of time it takes for money’s value to halve due to inflation. If inflation is 6%, then a given purchasing power of the money will be worth half in around (72 ÷ 6) = 12 years. If inflation decreases from 6% to 4%, an investment will be expected to lose half its value in 18 years, instead of 12 years.
Additionally, the Rule of 72 can be applied across all kinds of durations provided the rate of return is compounded. If the interest per quarter is 4%, then it will take (72 / 4) = 18 quarters or 4.5 years to double the principal. If the population of a nation increases as the rate of 1% per month, it will double in 72 months, or six years.
Variations in Applying the Rule of 72
The Rule of 72 is reasonably accurate for interest rates that fall in the range of 6% and 10%. When dealing with rates outside this range, the rule can be adjusted by adding or subtracting 1 from 72 for every 3 points the interest rate diverges from 8% threshold. For example, the rate of 11% annual compounding interest is 3 percentage points higher than 8%.
Hence, adding 1 (for the 3 points higher than 8%) to 72 leads to using the rule of 73 for higher precision. For 14% rate of return, it would be the rule of 74 (adding 2 for 6 percentage points higher), and for 5% rate of return, it will mean reducing 1 (for 3 percentage points lower) to lead to the rule of 71.
For example, say you have a very attractive investment scheme offering a 22% rate of return. The basic rule of 72 says the initial investment will double in 3.27 years. However, since (22 – 8) is 14, and (14 ÷ 3) is 4.67 ≈ 5, the adjusted rule should use 72 + 5 = 77 for the numerator. This gives a value of 3.5 years, indicating that you’ll have to wait an additional quarter to double your money compared to the result of 3.27 years obtained from the basic Rule of 72. The period given by the logarithmic equation is 3.49, so the result obtained from the adjusted rule is more accurate.
Amid all the variations suggested for better estimations, one can rely on the basic Rule of 72 to make the quick mental calculation for roughly assessing when their money or loan amount would double.
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