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If you’ve already begun an automatic investment plan, you may be making solid progress toward reaching your financial goals. But you might be surprised at how much more you may be able to accumulate over time if you can find a way to invest a few more dollars a month.

For instance, investing just $50 a month adds up to only $600 a year in total contributions, but through time and the power of compounding, it may ultimately help you build a sizeable investment fund during the decades ahead.

More specifically, contributing $50 a month through an automatic investment account with an average annual return of 5% could add more than $20,000 to your investment account over the next 20 years, more than $40,000 over the next 30 years and more than $70,000 over the next 40 years. (See chart below.)

(The following examples are hypothetical for illustrative purposes only. They are not intended to represent the performance of any particular investment product, nor do they take into consideration any product expenses or fees. The results would be reduced if the costs were included.)

A more aggressive strategy that earns an annual return of 10%, which is similar to the long-term return of the S&P 500 Index,i could add up to more than $35,000 over the next 20 years, more than $100,000 over the next 30 years and nearly $280,000 over the next 40 years. (See chart below.)

Of course, there’s no guarantee that your portfolio would match the return of the S&P 500, which has grown at an average annual rate of about 11%ii since 1965. Past performance does not guarantee future returns, and investing may involve the risk of loss of principle.

Obviously, the more you can invest, the more you will accumulate over the long term. Monthly contributions of $100 a month at a 5% return rate would grow to more than $80,000 over the next 30 years and nearly $150,000 over the next 40 years. At a 10% return, your portfolio would grow to more than $70,000 in 20 years, more than $200,000 in 30 years, and more than half a million dollars in 40 years.

Investing through an automatic monthly contribution plan is one of the easiest, most convenient ways to build your investment savings over time. At Thrivent Mutual Funds, investors can start with as little as $50 a month through our automatic purchase plan.iii (The $50 starting amount is available only when setting up a $50-per-month minimum recurring or automatic purchase plan.) (See: Start Building Your Nest Egg for Just $50 a Month)

Best Times to Boost Your Contributions

You may experience occasional opportunities that could be ideal for increasing your investment contributions, including:

  • Increased income. A sudden boost to your income – through a raise at work or some other source – would be one of the most obvious opportunities to increase your investment contributions. And one of the best times to begin making those investments may be immediately after you get a raise – before you get accustomed to your higher income and all of the tempting ways to spend it.

  • After paying off a debt. You may have additional money available to invest each month after you’ve paid off a debt, such as a car loan, home equity loan, college loan, or even smaller loans for things like appliances or furnishings. And, again, a good time to start investing that extra cash may be immediately after paying off one of your loans – and before you’re tempted to find other uses for that money. (See: How to Scrounge Up $50 a Month for Your Investment Plan)

  • After a windfall. Another opportunity to boost your long-term investment portfolio would be after receiving a windfall, such as a bonus at work, a big commission check, inheritance, or a tax refund. If you invest your windfall rather than spending it, that could pay big dividends over time. (See: Putting Your Windfall to Work for the Long Term)

Bumping up your investment contributions – whether through an automatic monthly investment plan or a single investment of a recent windfall – may require a little sacrifice in the near term, but it may put you in a far better financial position in the long run.

i The S&P 500® Index is a market-cap weighted index that represents the average performance of a group of 500 large-capitalization stocks. You cannot invest directly in an index. Indexes are unmanaged and do not reflect the fees and expenses associated with active management.

ii Source: “Annual Returns on Stock, T-Bonds and T-Bills: 1928 – Current,” New York University

iii New accounts with a minimum investment amount of $50 are offered through the Thrivent Mutual Funds “automatic purchase plan.” Otherwise, the minimum initial investment requirement is $2,000 for non-retirement accounts and $1,000 for IRA or tax-deferred accounts, minimum subsequent investment requirement is $50 for all account types.    

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