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Crashes Matter a Lot

Jun 11, 2018 | Lance Roberts |

Crashes Matter a Lot

In Part I – Buy and Hold can be Hazardous to your Wealth, we showed how the stock markets tend to cycle between growth and decline. Passive “buy and hold” investors who hold their investments through the cycles are likely to endure long periods of time in which they are recovering losses and not compounding their wealth. As discussed, falling into this age-old trap for a decade or longer violates Warren Buffett’s two golden rules of investing:

  1. Don’t Lose Money
  2. Refer To Rule #1

In Part II of this series, we will discuss why avoiding major market corrections is so important. We also dive into a related topic, the “savings problem.”

As noted previously, many of those who promote “buy and hold’ type philosophies often claim that those who dollar cost average (DCA) on a regular basis endure much shorter periods recovering previous losses. While they are partially correct, as recovery periods from losses are shorter, evidence clearly shows few individuals actually invest that way.

As discussed previously, investors do NOT have 90, 100, or more years to invest. Given that most investors do not start seriously saving for retirement until the age of 35, or older, that leaves 30-35 years for them to reach their goals. If that stretch of time happens to include a 12-15 year period in which returns are flat, as history tells us is probable, then the odds of achieving their goals are massively diminished.

Let’s walk through an example showing why avoiding “mean reverting events” matters.

Bob is 35-years old, earns $75,000 a year, saves 10% of his gross salary each year and wants to have the same income in retirement that he currently has today. In our forecast, we will assume the market returns 7% each year (same as promised by many financial advisors) and we will assume a 2.1% inflation rate (long-term median) to help determine his desired retirement income.

Looking 30 years forward, as shown below, when Bob will be 65, his equivalent annual income requirement will be approximately $137,000 as shown below.

Understanding the relevance of this simple graph is typically problem number one for investors. Many savers fail to realize that their income needs will rise significantly due to inflation. In Bob’s case, $137,000 is the future equivalent to his current $75,000 salary assuming a modest 2.1% rate of inflation. If the double-digit inflation rate of the 1970’s were to reappear, Bob’s income needs would be significantly higher, and a larger lump sum of savings would be required to generate that higher level of income.

Read more at Real Investment Advice: The Myths of Stocks for the Long Run | Real Investment Advice