Answer: In general, to invest is to allocate money (or sometimes another resource, such as time) in the expectation of some benefit in the future – for example, investment in durable goods, in real estate by the service industry, in factories for manufacturing, in product development, and in research and development. However, this article focuses specifically on investment in financial assets.
In finance, the benefit from investment is called a return. The return may consist of capital gains or investment income, including dividends, interest, rental income etc., or a combination of the two. The projected economic return is the appropriately discounted value of the future returns. The historic return comprises the actual capital gain (or loss) or income (or both) over a period of time.