Risk Management: Dollar-Cost Averaging
Smart investors know that trying to time the market is often a losing game. Instead, you plan ahead and invest in such a way as to minimize risk and maximize your returns. Whether you’re a seasoned investor or just getting started, dollar-cost averaging could be beneficial.
What is dollar-cost averaging?
In dollar-cost averaging, you invest a set amount of money into your investment portfolio over regular intervals. Rather than investing a large sum of money at once, dollar-cost averaging allows you to get into the investing game without a huge outlay of capital. Dollar-cost averaging allows you to buy more during market slumps and less when the markets are high, without trying to play the market in the short term.1
There are quite a few benefits to dollar-cost averaging as an investment strategy. Dollar-cost averaging can help you:
- Buy more shares: Over the long term, the price of assets trends higher. By using dollar-cost averaging, you may be able to use the ebb and flow of the market to buy more shares over time than if you made a big one-time purchase.
- Invest consistently: Dollar-cost averaging helps you maintain consistency with your investing strategy. If you’re setting aside pre-tax dollars to invest in a company-sponsored 401(k), for example, you’re already making use of dollar-cost averaging.
- Set it and forget it: Rather than trying to time the market in the short term, dollar-cost averaging allows you to invest in assets that are more likely to have staying power. This is an especially useful strategy if the idea of monitoring the stock market makes you queasy.
- Regret Minimization: Even the most disciplined investors feel some regret when an investment proves to be poorly timed. Worse, such regret may cause you to disrupt your investment strategy in an attempt to make up for your setback. Dollar-cost averaging can help minimize this regret because you make multiple investments, none of them particularly large.
A case for lump-sum investing
There is research that shows that over the very long term, lump sum investing can outperform dollar-cost averaging. If you get a bonus or a sudden inheritance in general, you’re better off investing it as soon as possible. While returns aren’t guaranteed, it’s also more likely that you’ll see a return over having that money accrue minimal interest in a bank.
However, there are some key caveats. While lump-sum investing outperforms dollar-cost averaging most of the time, dollar-cost averaging still wins out in one-third of cases. The idea of investing a large sum of money at once can be intimidating to many investors, so it’s important to get an outside perspective to help you think with a clear head.
Who Should Use Dollar-Cost Averaging?
Dollar-cost averaging is a strategy that can best help beginner investors, or those without much money to invest at the outset. If you’re investing for the long term and aren’t comfortable with the research that goes into the financial market, dollar-cost averaging is a safer way to get started with investing. However, if you’re investing for the short term, or have a lump sum to invest, you might want to pursue another investing strategy and you may want to seek professional advice.
Depending on your personal financial situation, dollar-cost averaging may be a smart strategy for you—or it may make more sense to invest a large amount of capital at once. For most people, the financial strategy lies somewhere in between. Don't procrastinate! Procrastination can be worse than bad timing. Long term, it's almost always better to invest in stocks (even at the worst times each year) than not to invest at all. Feel free to contact us. We can help determine which strategy is the best for you.
CRA Investment Committee
Matt Reynolds CPA, CFP®
Tom Reynolds, CPA
Robert T. Martin, CFA, CFP®
Gordon Shearer Jr., CFP®
Jeff Hilliard, CFP®, CRPC®
Joe McCaffrey, CFP®
Important Disclosure Information
Please remember that past performance may not be indicative of future results. Different types of investments involve varying degrees of risk, and there can be no assurance that the future performance of any specific investment, investment strategy, or product (including the investments and/or investment strategies recommended or undertaken by CRA Financial, LLC [“CRA]), or any non-investment related content, made reference to directly or indirectly in this commentary will be profitable, equal any corresponding indicated historical performance level(s), be suitable for your portfolio or individual situation, or prove successful. Due to various factors, including changing market conditions and/or applicable laws, the content may no longer be reflective of current opinions or positions. Moreover, you should not assume that any discussion or information contained in this commentary serves as the receipt of, or as a substitute for, personalized investment advice from CRA. Please remember to contact CRA, in writing, if there are any changes in your personal/financial situation or investment objectives for the purpose of reviewing/evaluating/revising our previous recommendations and/or services, or if you would like to impose, add, or to modify any reasonable restrictions to our investment advisory services. Unless, and until, you notify us, in writing, to the contrary, we shall continue to provide services as we do currently. CRA is neither a law firm, nor a certified public accounting firm, and no portion of the commentary content should be construed as legal or accounting advice. A copy of CRA’s current written disclosure Brochure discussing our advisory services and fees continues to remain available upon request or at www.crafinancial.com. Please Note: IF you are a CRA client, Please advise us if you have not been receiving account statements (at least quarterly) from the account custodian.
Historical performance results for investment indices, benchmarks, and/or categories have been provided for general informational/comparison purposes only, and generally do not reflect the deduction of transaction and/or custodial charges, the deduction of an investment management fee, nor the impact of taxes, the incurrence of which would have the effect of decreasing historical performance results. It should not be assumed that your CRA account holdings correspond directly to any comparative indices or categories. Please Also Note: (1) performance results do not reflect the impact of taxes; (2) comparative benchmarks/indices may be more or less volatile than your CRA accounts; and, (3) a description of each comparative benchmark/index is available upon request.
Please Note: Limitations: Neither rankings and/or recognitions by unaffiliated rating services, publications, media, or other organizations, nor the achievement of any professional designation, certification, degree, or license, or any amount of prior experience or success, should be construed by a client or prospective client as a guarantee that he/she will experience a certain level of results if CRA is engaged, or continues to be engaged, to provide investment advisory services. Rankings published by magazines, and others, generally base their selections exclusively on information prepared and/or submitted by the recognized adviser. Rankings are generally limited to participating advisers (to the extent applicable). Unless expressly indicated to the contrary, CRA did not pay a fee to be included on any such ranking. No ranking or recognition should be construed as a current or past endorsement of CRA by any of its clients. ANY QUESTIONS: CRA’s Chief Compliance Officer remains available to address any questions regarding rankings and/or recognitions, including the criteria used for any reflected ranking.