Below is a gold return calculator which will calculate the return an investor might have made buying and selling gold (without transaction fees). We also include inflation adjustments using CPI. Enter the ending and starting dates for a theoretical investment, and we’ll do the math!
(Note: for the first time you try to calculate a return, please give it a few seconds – the data file is a bit over 1MB. After the first usage it should be noticeably quicker.)
The Gold Return Calculator (With Daily Inflation Adjustment)
This gold calculator takes daily gold prices (specifically, the 10:30 AM Gold Fixing price in the London Bullion Market) from the St. Louis Fed and calculates the difference in price levels. Here’s the key to this calculator:
- Starting Date – A theoretical investor would have purchased gold on this day. (This may be modified by the tool if there is missing data – take a look after you hit calculate).
- Ending Date – A theoretical investor would have sold gold on this day. (This may also be modified by the tool if there is missing data – take a look after you hit calculate).
- Total Gold Return – This will either be the total price return on gold from the starting to the ending date, or the same quantity adjusted for inflation.
- Annualized Gold Return – The calculator will do the math on the number of days in the market and annualize the calculation for you. This number is also adjusted for whether you use inflation or not.
- Inflation Adjusted (CPI-U)? – Whether the calculation you did is using CPI adjusted values as explained in the Daily Inflation Calculator methodology section.
The gold price used in the calculator is from the St. Louis Fed, and is the 10:30 AM price in the London Bullion market. Not every day is listed, so the calculator may adjust the dates slightly to avoid weekends or days where there was no trading in London.
The inflation methodology is exactly the same as for the daily inflation calculator. Please see the methodology section there.
Unlike with our 10 Year Treasury return calculator or the S&P 500 Total Return Calculator, an investor in gold didn’t have to worry about dividends. Even with recent run-ups in the price of gold, the investor did have something in common with our theoretical Treasury or S&P 500 investor – the constant battle with inflation. There are date ranges you can find in the tool where a nominal gain because of the price return of gold would leave real returns negative or flat.
Hopefully the majority of your usage will come with the inflation adjusted portion of this tool.
Limitations on the Gold Return Calculator
The gold return calculator’s results should be used for research or informational purposes, and not be relied on for precision!
As always, the number of assumptions in this tool limit its usefulness – you won’t be able to say with 100% precision how another investor performed. Like our previous calculator, this tool assumes no transaction fees, management fees, storage fees, or anything of that nature. Gold, of course, will have transaction fees in most cases, and since there is risk to storing physical gold, often storage and housing fees will also be paid. The price is also an approximation, or a snapshot of the trading price at 10:30 AM in London. Gold’s price may have varied widely during the day.
As for the tool, there are a number of off-by-one type errors you can run into around leap years. The tool will always use 365 days as a year, regardless of whether February 29 would have appeared between the two dates or not – but hey, give me a break – the Treasury uses 360 day years to make monthly math easy.
St. Louis Fed. Couldn’t have done it without you, haha.
Is this a useful tool? Anything else you’d like to see added?