Everyone always wants to know WHEN the best time to invest is. When will it be the best time to enter the market? When will it be the perfect time in your life to tuck away funds and invest for your future?
The two responses I have to those questions are…
First, there will never be a “perfect time” to invest from a market perspective as you nor an experienced financial professional will be able to identify exactly when the market will be at its lowest point to buy or its highest point to sell.
Second, there will always be life changes and events popping up in our lives that will continually serve as a barrier to prioritizing investing for our future.
So because of that – the best time to invest is right now.
Time in the Market > Timing the Market
I’ve heard it all over the years. Individuals will always find an excuse as to why they aren’t investing…”the market is too high right now..” or “the market is dropping so much right now…” or “life is too busy for me right now..” or “I’ll invest when…”
But those excuses are allowing time to pass by. Time – our most valuable asset and one of the biggest contributors to long term investing success.
There is no best time to become an investor.
Timing the Market
The market does not go up all the time. This is something we are becoming painfully aware of from the first 5 months of 2022 in the stock market. But history has shown us that over time, the market trends upward. It is not a linear journey. It will not go up consistently.
There will be world events, natural disasters and policy changes that will wreak havoc on the markets – as they have always done. This is nothing new.
But to attempt to enter the market at the perfect time or try to sell because you believe “this time is different” has proven to be a wildly ineffective strategy.
Missing the 10 Best Days in the Market
“Looking at data going back to 1930, the firm found that if an investor missed the S&P 500′s 10 best days each decade, the total return would stand at 28%. If, on the other hand, the investor held steady through the ups and downs, the return would have been 17,715%” (1)
So what can you do instead of trying to time the market? You can dollar cost average into the market. This strategy creates a streamlined investing process where you invest at regular intervals and in regular amounts over the course of a period of time.
An example of dollar cost averaging would be to invest $100 per month on the 1st of every month. Or another example is the way in which we invest in our 401Ks. We invest a percentage of our income into the market at each pay period.
Why would you do this?
- To create the habit of investing
- To automate the process of investing
- To remove the element of emotions that deter you from investing more and remaining consistent
When you are a long term investor, the best time to invest is right now.
Timing Your Lifestyle
Another excuse that holds individuals back from investing is the notion that it is not the right time in their lives to invest. Whether they believe they don’t have enough money or wherewithal to invest…who knows.
If you ask me, the two reasons that I believe an individual should not be prioritizing investing is if they have significant high interest debt or if they need the funds and the cash for something within the next 1-3 years. If not one of those things, you probably should be investing.
We all have been there. Making up excuses around why we aren’t prioritizing investing…so one of these will probably resonate with you.
You just got your first job and your employer is recommending you set up a 401K and contribute to it…but…you are just getting this great new paycheck and inflow of cash. You can’t just sign away 5% of it to whatever that 401K is. You say you’ll invest after you get your first raise!
You just got a promotion or pay increase, but now you need a new wardrobe because you will be managing people or you need a new car because you finally can afford one. You say you’ll invest after you get a few of the things that you “need” first.
A few raises and promotions go by and now you’re getting married and are saving up for a wedding or a honeymoon to remember!
And now with some of your extra cash flow you are saving up for a down payment on your first home.
You bought your first home and it exceeded your original budget so you are feeling a little strapped for cash at the moment. You will invest when you get used to those larger household bills.
Then what do you know – there’s a baby on the way!!
If you are not getting the hint….
There will not be a perfect time in your life to invest. Life is busy. And it will get busier the older you get, the more responsibility you have, the more managerial of a role you take on at your job….busy.
You have to create the habit TODAY so that when those pay increases come, you have already set the foundation for investing.
Start with $10, $100 or $1,000 a month. What matters is that you start – not how much you start with.
Make long term investing a priority. You can thank me later.
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(1) CNBC Article