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At relatively low returns, you can double or even triple your money over long periods of time through compounding.

A good way to gauge the performance of your investments is to measure its growth next to Standard and Poor's 500.  This is a commonly used barometer to measure investments against.

When calculating your real returns, it is important to ask 2 questions:

        1.  How much of a tax bite was taken out of your investments?

        2.  How much did inflation reduce your principal's buying power? 

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