This is the annual rate of return you expect from your investments before taxes. The actual rate of return is largely dependant on the type of investments you select. For example, from January 1970 to February 2003, the average compounded rate of return for the S&P 500, including reinvestment of dividends, was approximately 11%. Savings accounts at a bank pay as little as 1% or less. It is important to remember that future rates of return can't be predicted with certainty and that investments that pay higher rates of return are subject to higher risk and volatility. The actual rate of return on investments can vary widely over time, especially for long-term investments. This includes the potential loss of principal on your investment.