3 min

26-July-2024

The annual rate of return after taxes and inflation are considered is known as the real rate of return. On the other hand, a nominal rate of return does not consider inflation and taxes. Following any investment, the investor will receive the annual rate of return, highlighting its importance.

This article will help you understand what the real rate of return is, its meaning, significance, and relevant examples.

By adjusting the nominal return to account for inflation, the investor can determine the real return on the investment. Investors must consider the effects of several elements, such as taxes and investing fees, in addition to inflation adjustments when estimating the real returns on their assets or choosing various investment options.

Real rate of return = [(1 + Nominal Rate) ÷ (1 + Inflation Rate)] – 1

Nominal rate - 10%

Inflation rate - 7%

Real rate of return = [(1 + 0.1) ÷ (1 + 0.07)] - 1 = 2.8%

The influence of inflation on actual returns is evident from the real return, which is just 2.8% compared to the nominal rate of 10%.

Investors also use the real rate of return to compare investments on an even playing field. It allows for a more accurate assessment of the investment's actual performance by considering inflation and taxes. This is particularly true when it comes to retirement planning, where maintaining the purchasing power of savings is essential. Additionally, understanding the real rate of return makes it easier to evaluate the effectiveness of various financial strategies and makes it possible to make well-informed decisions on portfolio adjustments.

The real rate of return helps determine the actual return on investment. This allows you to adjust your portfolio according to your investment objectives.

The actual rate of return corrects profit for inflationary impacts. Compared to the nominal rate of return, it provides a more accurate picture of investment performance. Except in situations when there is neither inflation or deflation, nominal rates of return are higher than actual rates.

One of the most important indicators of an investment's profitability is the rate of return (ROR), also known as the rate of profit (ROP). It provides information on the effectiveness and profitability of an investment.

In simple terms, while your investments yield a nominal rate of return of 6%, the real rate of return is only 4%. This implies the value of your assets only increases by a meagre 4% every year. Say you have Rs. 15,000 saved up to buy a product, but you choose to invest the funds for a year to ensure you will have some extra money after the purchase. After a year, at 6% interest, you will have Rs. 15,900. However, because of a 2% price increase due to inflation during the same period, the same product now costs Rs. 15,300.

Consequently, after you buy the product, the remaining amount is Rs. 600, or 4% of your initial investment, indicating your enhanced purchasing power. As it displays your earnings after removing inflation, this is your real rate of return.

What is risk return trade off?

What is Market Risk definition?

What is credit risk?

What is Default Risk?

What is systematic risk?

What is inherent risk?

This adjustment ensures that the returns reflect the actual increase in purchasing power rather than just nominal gains. Ignoring inflation can lead to overestimating the growth of investments, as it doesn't account for the decreasing value of money over time. Therefore, considering inflation is vital for making accurate assessments and comparisons of investment performance.

Compared to the nominal rate of return, it provides a more accurate picture of investment performance.

With the exception of periods of zero inflation or deflation, nominal rates of return are higher than real rates of return.

This article will help you understand what the real rate of return is, its meaning, significance, and relevant examples.

## What is the real rate of return?

The annual percentage of profit on an investment adjusted for inflation is known as the real rate of return. In the long run, this is a reliable indicator of the actual buying power of a given amount.By adjusting the nominal return to account for inflation, the investor can determine the real return on the investment. Investors must consider the effects of several elements, such as taxes and investing fees, in addition to inflation adjustments when estimating the real returns on their assets or choosing various investment options.

## Real rate of return - Formula

The formula for the real rate of return is:Real rate of return = [(1 + Nominal Rate) ÷ (1 + Inflation Rate)] – 1

## How to calculate the real rate of return?

Let us consider the scenario where we are determining the real rate of return on an investment with a nominal return of 10%. If the inflation rate during the same period was 7%, the actual return can be calculated in the following manner:Nominal rate - 10%

Inflation rate - 7%

Real rate of return = [(1 + 0.1) ÷ (1 + 0.07)] - 1 = 2.8%

The influence of inflation on actual returns is evident from the real return, which is just 2.8% compared to the nominal rate of 10%.

## Use and relevance of the real rate of return

The real rate of return is a vital metric for investors trying to understand the true profitability of their investments. Adjusting for inflation offers a clearer picture of how much the investment’s value increases in purchasing power rather than just nominal gains. This is essential for long-term financial planning since it guarantees the returns are nearly accurate (after adjusting for inflation).Investors also use the real rate of return to compare investments on an even playing field. It allows for a more accurate assessment of the investment's actual performance by considering inflation and taxes. This is particularly true when it comes to retirement planning, where maintaining the purchasing power of savings is essential. Additionally, understanding the real rate of return makes it easier to evaluate the effectiveness of various financial strategies and makes it possible to make well-informed decisions on portfolio adjustments.

## Importance of real rate of return

Determining the real rate of return on your investment has several benefits. Some of them are highlighted below:The real rate of return helps determine the actual return on investment. This allows you to adjust your portfolio according to your investment objectives.

The actual rate of return corrects profit for inflationary impacts. Compared to the nominal rate of return, it provides a more accurate picture of investment performance. Except in situations when there is neither inflation or deflation, nominal rates of return are higher than actual rates.

One of the most important indicators of an investment's profitability is the rate of return (ROR), also known as the rate of profit (ROP). It provides information on the effectiveness and profitability of an investment.

## Example of real rate of return

Let us now look at an example to better understand this concept. Assume that a bond has a 6% annual interest rate. If the current inflation rate is 2%, the real return on your savings is just 4%!In simple terms, while your investments yield a nominal rate of return of 6%, the real rate of return is only 4%. This implies the value of your assets only increases by a meagre 4% every year. Say you have Rs. 15,000 saved up to buy a product, but you choose to invest the funds for a year to ensure you will have some extra money after the purchase. After a year, at 6% interest, you will have Rs. 15,900. However, because of a 2% price increase due to inflation during the same period, the same product now costs Rs. 15,300.

Consequently, after you buy the product, the remaining amount is Rs. 600, or 4% of your initial investment, indicating your enhanced purchasing power. As it displays your earnings after removing inflation, this is your real rate of return.

**Related articles to read**What is risk return trade off?

What is Market Risk definition?

What is credit risk?

What is Default Risk?

What is systematic risk?

What is inherent risk?

## Why does the real rate of return matter?

The real rate of return is an important measure that shows an investment's true profitability even after accounting for inflation. While the real rate of return provides a more comprehensive view of an investment's long-term purchasing power, the nominal rate shows gross earnings. Investors can more accurately determine the difference between the real growth of their money and the potential growth by using this indicator. By considering the actual rate of return, investors can more accurately assess different investment opportunities and reach better decisions. It protects the investor's buying power and aids in achieving their financial goals by preventing price increases from wiping out benefits.## Other factors affecting the real rate of return

In addition to inflation, several other factors affect the real rate of return. Because taxes can wipe out all investment gains, they can substantially affect net return. Deducting investment fees and management expenditures from gross earnings further reduces the real rate of return. Returns are also impacted by market volatility, where higher risks may result in more unpredictable outcomes. Finally, changes in interest rates may impact how different investment classes perform and, eventually, alter their real returns.## Real vs. nominal rate of return: What is the difference?

The nominal rate of return is the gross earnings from an investment, while the real rate of return adjusts for inflation, reflecting true profitability.### 1. Inflation rate adjustment

Inflation rate adjustment is crucial for understanding the real value of investment returns. Inflation refers to the rate at which the price levels for goods and services increase, eroding purchasing power. To calculate the real rate of return, the inflation rate must be subtracted from the nominal rate. For instance, if an investment has a nominal return of 8% and the inflation rate is 3%, the real rate of return is 5%.This adjustment ensures that the returns reflect the actual increase in purchasing power rather than just nominal gains. Ignoring inflation can lead to overestimating the growth of investments, as it doesn't account for the decreasing value of money over time. Therefore, considering inflation is vital for making accurate assessments and comparisons of investment performance.

### 2. Tax rate adjustment

Tax rate adjustment is another critical factor in determining the real rate of return. Taxes can significantly reduce the nominal returns on investments. One must subtract the tax rate from the nominal return to calculate the after-tax return. For example, if the nominal return is 10% and the tax rate is 30%, the after-tax return would be reduced significantly to around 7%. This adjustment provides a more realistic view of an investment's profitability. Investors can better evaluate the net gains by considering taxes and making more informed financial decisions.## Key takeaways

Profit is adjusted for the effects of inflation using the real rate of return.Compared to the nominal rate of return, it provides a more accurate picture of investment performance.

With the exception of periods of zero inflation or deflation, nominal rates of return are higher than real rates of return.

## Conclusion

Understanding the real rate of return is essential for evaluating the true profitability of investments. It adjusts the nominal rate of return for inflation, taxes, and other costs, providing a more accurate measure of an investment's value over time. By focusing on the real rate of return, investors can make more informed decisions, ensuring that their investments maintain purchasing power and achieve their financial goals. Ignoring these adjustments can lead to misleading conclusions about the growth and success of an investment portfolio. Therefore, the real rate of return is a critical metric for any serious investor aiming for long-term financial stability and growth.**Essential tools for mutual fund investors**