No. of Recommendations: 4
It does make a difference when you buy and sell, except in a really dull
market. 

Or to put it another way, if the data is different, the results of a 
study are likely to be different.

Whenever the Motley Fool did the study that said it made little 
difference when you buy into the market, the market must have been in a 
gentle uptrend, or maybe just flat.

During the period 2000 - 2011, however the market was not at all gentle.
In such a situation, it makes a difference when you buy into the market.

Consider that if you had bought $10,000 of SPY at the high each year 
from 2000 - 2011, at the end of that time you would have 1038.172 
shares of SPY, whereas if you had bought at the low you would have 
1364.993 shares. The difference in value is over $40,000, or more
than 30%.

The data follows. All the prices are taken from the Fasttrack database, 
and are adjusted for dividends. Hence this assumes dividend 
reinvestment. I know that you cannot buy fractional shares, but I left
that in anyway, since it gives a slightly better idea of what has
happened, and these results (which do not include commissions) may 
therefore be scaled up or down for different amounts.

Note that since the prices are adjusted for dividends you will not
find the same numbers from a non-adjusted chart.

Year	High	Low	Difference	Shares at 	Shares at 
				High	Low
2000	122.504	108.664	13.840	81.630	92.027
2001	110.868	79.698	31.170	90.197	125.474
2002	96.691	65.760	30.931	103.422	152.068
2003	94.352	69.101	25.251	105.986	144.716
2004	104.968	91.331	13.637	95.267	109.492
2005	110.646	99.121	11.525	90.378	100.887
2006	127.487	108.294	19.193	78.439	92.341
2007	142.110	123.130	18.980	70.368	81.215
2008	136.527	79.568	56.959	73.246	125.679
2009	107.813	65.496	42.317	92.753	152.681
2010	122.804	103.659	19.145	81.431	96.470
2011	133.237	108.762	24.475	75.054	91.944
					
Total Shares				1,038.172	1,364.993
End Value (shr)	124.953	124.953		$129,722.72	$170,559.96
Difference					$40,837.24
% Difference				31.480	

Anyway, I hate to belabor such an obvious point, and besides nobody 
even pretends to know how to buy at the absolute low for the year.

But it does make a difference when you buy.

And the results of any study depend on the data, so if the data changes
so will the results. Funny thing about that.
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Total Shares 1,038.172 1,364.993
End Value (shr) 124.953 124.953 $129,722.72 $170,559.96
Difference $40,837.24
% Difference 31.480


Good work.

Whats the CAGR difference? Off the top of my head I'd guess 3-4%. Which is not much different from the historical average of 2-3%.

JLC
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Back of the envelope calculation.....

buying at the high @ 2% CAGR
buying at the low @ 5% CAGR.

so the gap isn't much different from the initial study.

JLC
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And that difference, over time, is the difference between a comfortable early retirement and a later, perhaps uncomfortable, retirement.

"Small" difference do make a large difference over time. That is why every trade needs to be carefully planned and executed.
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"Small" difference do make a large difference over time.

I'm not arguing that point. Never was. Yes 1-2% over 30 years can make a big difference.

That is why every trade needs to be carefully planned and executed.

My point, and the point of the original article, is to not be afraid of jumping in at the "wrong" time. You could stand on the sidelines for the next 30 years worrying about being "right" and essentially lose all your buying power to inflation. Get in the game, the law of averages over time will take care of a few "wrong" entry points.

JLC
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