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401 k

Be Careful When Converting

Conversion of St Paul

Conversion of St Paul (Photo credit: Lawrence OP)

When converting from a 401(k), traditional IRA, 403(b), SIMPLE IRA, SEP or 457(b) to a Roth IRA there are some important tax considerations to keep in mind.

First, converting from a tax deferred plan to a tax free plan it’s not always the best idea. Generally, it’s going to make sense to convert if the tax payer believes that he or she will be in a higher income tax bracket in retirement. For example, John, age 28 has a 401(k) and recently left his employer. He’s currently in the 15% bracket but expects to be in the 28% bracket or higher in retirement. It may make sense for John to convert his 401(k) to his Roth IRA.

This makes sense for John because when he converts from a pre-tax, employer sponsored plan like the 401(k) it’s money that has not yet been taxed. If he converts while in the 15% bracket, that money is now subject to tax at the 15% rate, and arguably a lower amount of money being taxed since he’s still young. If he decided to wait until retirement to convert (let’s assume he’s in the 28% bracket) then that money is going to be taxed at 28%, or almost twice the rate if he had converted when he was in the 15% bracket. John has also eliminated future RMDs as Roth IRAs have no such requirement.

Generally, it may make sense to not convert if you expect to be in a lower tax bracket at retirement. The reason is you’d convert at a higher tax bracket today, only to be in a lower bracket in retirement. Thus, you’ve paid a higher than necessary amount of tax on your money.

Second, when converting, pay close attention to you your age and how you choose to “pay” the tax. Let’s look at two examples.

Let’s say John in the example above decides to convert when he leaves his employer at age 28. He’s saved a nice sum of $100,000 in his 401(k). He decides to convert to a Roth IRA at the 15% bracket. He elects to pay the tax himself from outside of the 401(k), that is, he elects to not have any tax withheld from the conversion. He decides he’ll pay the tax from another source when tax time comes around. All is being equal, John owes $15,000 at tax time.

This turns out to be a very wise decision for John. Here’s why.

Let’s assume the same scenario above except that John decides to have the $15,000 withheld from his 401(k) to pay the taxes on the conversion. Remember how old John was? 28. He’s under age 59 1/2 and the $15,000 withheld for taxes is considered an early distribution, and, you guessed it, subject to the 10% early withdrawal penalty. So instead of paying $15,000 in taxes, John pays an additional $1,500 due to the 10% penalty or a total of $16,500.

It pays (either you or the IRS) to consider the tax ramifications of converting to a Roth IRA. Talk to an experienced financial planner and or tax advisor for help.

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November is “Add 1% More to Your Savings” Month

November

November (Photo credit: Cape Cod Cyclist)

That’s right, we unofficially declared November to be “Add 1% More to Your Savings” month.  So you can add that to the month-long observances like:

  • No-shave November
  • International Drum Month
  • Sweet Potato Awareness Month
  • and many more (see the list at Wikipedia)

In November we encourage folks to increase their retirement savings rate by at least 1% more than the current rate.  It’s a small step, but it will pay off for you in the long run.

Below is the list of my fellow bloggers who have written articles showing ways that you can start to increase your savings rate, as well as showing what the benefits can be.  Thanks to everyone who has participated so far – and watch for more articles in the weeks to come!

The 1 Percent Solution by John Davis, @MentorCapitalMg

Friday Financial Tidbit-What increasing your retirement contributions 1% can do for your retirement account by Jonathan White, @JWFinCoaching

THE 1% MORE BLOGGING PROJECT by Robert Flach, @rdftaxpro

A Simple Strategy to Maximize Open Enrollment by Jacob Kuebler, @Jakekuebler

Take a Small Step: Increase Your Savings by 1% by Jim Blankenship, @BlankenshipFP

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Retirement Plan Contribution Limits for 2014

United Way tax prep volunteers help hard-worki...

United Way tax prep volunteers help hard-working families avoid tax prep fees (Photo credit: United Way of Greater Cincinnati)

The IRS recently published the new contribution limits for various retirement plans for 2014.  These limits are indexed to inflation, and as such sometimes they do not increase much year over year, and sometimes they don’t increase at all. This year we saw virtually no increases for most all contribution amounts, but as usual the income limits increased for most types of account.

IRAs

The annual contribution limit for IRAs (both traditional and Roth) remains at $5,500 for 2014.  The “catch up” contribution amount, for folks age 50 or over, also remains at $1,000.

The income limits for traditional (deductible) IRAs increased slightly from last year: for singles covered by a retirement plan, your Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) must be less than $60,000 for a full deduction; phased deduction is allowed up to an AGI of $70,000.  This is an increase of $1,000 over the limits for last year.  For married folks filing jointly who are covered by a retirement plan by his or her employer, the AGI limit is increased to $96,000, phased out at $116,000, which is also a $1,000 increase over last year’s limits.  For married folks filing jointly who are not covered by a workplace retirement plan but are married to someone who is covered, the AGI limit for deduction is $181,000, phased out at $191,000; this is an increase of $3,000 over 2013’s limits.

The income limits for Roth IRA contributions also increased: single folks with an AGI less than $114,000 can make a full contribution, and this is phased out up to an AGI of $129,000, an increase of $2,000 at each end of the range.  For married folks filing jointly, the AGI limits are $181,000 to $191,000 for Roth contributions, up by $3,000 over 2013.

401(k), 403(b), 457 and SARSEP plans

For the traditional employer-based retirement plans, the amount of deferred income allowed has remained the same as well. For 2014, employees are allowed to defer up to $17,500 with a catch up amount of $5,500 for those over age 50 (all figures unchanged from 2013).  If you happen to work for a governmental agency that offers a 457 plan in addition to a 401(k) or 403(b) plan, you can double up and defer as much as $35,000 plus catch-ups, for a total of $46,000.

The limits for contributions to Roth 401(k) and Roth 403(b) are the same as traditional plans – the limit is for all plans of that type in total.  You are allowed to contribute up to the limit for either a Roth plan or a traditional plan, or a combination of the two.

SIMPLE

Savings Incentive Match Plans for Employees (SIMPLE) deferral limit also remains unchanged at $12,000 for 2014.  The catch up amount remains the same as 2013 at $2,500, for folks at or older than age 50.

Saver’s Credit

The income limits for receiving the Saver’s Credit for contributing to a retirement plan increased for 2014.  The AGI limit for married filing jointly increased from $59,000 to $60,000; for singles the new limit is $30,000 (up from $29,500); and for heads of household, the AGI limit is $45,000, an increase from $44,250.  The saver’s credit rewards low and moderate income taxpayers who are working hard and need more help saving for retirement.  The table below provides more details on how the saver’s credit works (Form 8880 is not updated yet for 2014, so the figures for the 50% and 20% limits will likely change):

Filing Status/Adjusted Gross Income for 2014
Amount of Credit Married Filing Jointly Head of Household Single/Others
50% of first $2,000 deferred $0 to $35,500 $0 to $26,625 $0 to $17,750
20% of first $2,000 deferred $35,501 to $38,500 $26,626 to $28,875 $17,751 to $19,250
10% of first $2,000 deferred $38,501 to $60,000 $28,876 to $45,000 $19,251 to $30,000
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Why Diversify?

Diversity

Diversity (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Remember Enron? I think we all do. Enron was once a powerhouse company that saw its empire crumble and took the wealth of many of its employees with it. Why was that the case? Many of Enron’s employees had their 401(k) retirement savings in Enron stock. This was the classic example of having all of your eggs in one basket and zero diversification.

Let’s say that the employees had half of their retirement in Enron stock and half in a mutual fund. Enron tanks but their mutual fund stays afloat. This means that they lost, but only lost half of their retirement, all else being equal.

Imagine if they had only a quarter of their retirement in Enron and the remaining 75% in three separate mutual funds. Enron’s demise is only responsible for a fourth of their retirement evaporating. This could go on and on.

The point is that when you choose to diversify you’re spreading your risk among a number of different companies. That way if one goes belly-up you’re not left with nothing.

Mutual funds are an excellent way to diversify among an asset class. For example, if you purchased a total stock market index fund you’d have nearly the entire US Stock Market in your portfolio which amounts to approximately 4,100 different stocks.

That’s great diversification but we can do better. The US equity market is only one area. We can diversify into domestic bonds, international stocks, international bonds, real estate, and so on. This is called diversifying among asset class. The point is that you want to spread your risk and diversify as much as possible so one market or asset class doesn’t ruin your entire portfolio.

A term we use often in the industry is correlation. This simply means how one particular security moves in relation to another. If I own two large cap growth funds they’re pretty closely correlated; meaning that if large cap companies fall both of these funds are going to fall very similarly.

If I own a large cap fund and a bond fund, then if large cap stocks fall, the bonds may rise or may stay the same or even fall slightly. This is because they are a different asset class and move differently than equities. Keep adding different assets to the mix and you have a potential portfolio that can withstand the dip and turns of the market.

Even the Oracle of Omaha, Warren Buffett diversifies. Granted he may have all of his eggs in one basket, Berkshire Hathaway, but own Berkshire Hathaway stock and you’ll get exposure to insurance, bricks, candy, cutlery and underwear to name a few. Admittedly, not many people have $175,000 to buy just one share of BRK stock, but the point is that even Mr. Buffett diversifies.

Diversify. It works.

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The Airplane Analogy

Safety Instructions...

Safety Instructions… (Photo credit: Ranieri Ribeiro)

Many parents face the decision during their working years to try to fund both retirement and college education. Some can adequately do both while others are forced to do the best they can with what money they can save.

Sometimes parents can get caught up in wanting to save as much as they can for their children’s college education and forgo the need to save for or save more for retirement.

When this situation presents itself, I have given my clients my airplane analogy. It goes something like this:

Have you ever flown on an airplane before? If you have you know that once you’re scrunched in and belted and the plane makes its way from the gate the flight attendants break radio silence and start with their routine flight instructions. After you’re taught where the exit rows are and how to use your seat as a floatation device they inevitably change the conversation to cabin pressure.

Should the aircraft experience a decrease in cabin pressure oxygen masks will fall from the overhead compartments. Grab the mask and fully extend the cord to allow the release of oxygen.

The next words are crucial to your survival.

Place the mask over your face and tighten the straps on the side. Once your mask is secured then attend to your child or help the person next to you.

Why would they say that? Because if you pass out at 35,000 feet you’re of no use to anyone.

A similar comparison can be made for those parents saving for both retirement and college. If the focus is solely or mostly on college savings, there may be little if any money accumulated for retirement. In addition, there are plenty of financial aid opportunities available for college. The options for financial aid in retirement are slim.

I’m not saying don’t save for your child’s education. It is very important and a priority for many parents. What I am saying is make sure your retirement savings are being added to as well. Otherwise the reward for all of that money saved for college may be a degree – and two future roommates for the graduate!

 

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Book Review: A Random Walk Down Wall Street

A Random Walk Down Wall Street

A Random Walk Down Wall Street (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Right from the start this book will be an excellent read for both financial advisors as well as their clients. Dr. Malkiel provides academic insight on the reasons why passive management works and some great commentary on the use of index funds as part of someone’s overall portfolio.

This was the second time I read this book and certainly not the last. It’s great reinforcement on why we invest our clients’ money the way we do and provides solid academic evidence that doing anything to the contrary is counterproductive, more expensive and simply playing a loser’s game.

Some of the bigger takeaways from the book are Dr. Malkiel’s thoughts and research on the different part of the Efficient Market Hypothesis or EMH. The EMH consists of three parts – the strong form, the semi-strong form and the weak form. The EMH essential admits that markets are efficient – meaning that current prices of stocks reflect all available information and prices adjust instantly to any changes in that information.

The weak form of the EMH rejects technical analysis as a way for beating the market and getting superior returns. Technical analysis can best be described as using past information to exploit future stock picks. Examples of exploiting such information are through charting, which is analyzing a stock based on its pattern of movement on a chart. Other examples given are those of anomalies that investors try to exploit such as the January Effect and the Dogs of the Dow.

The semi-strong form of the EMH says that analyzing a company’s financials, managers, and quarterly and annual reports will not help an investor or manager find stocks that will beat the market overall, thus bot technical and fundamental analysis of companies is futile.

The strong form of the EMH goes even further by stating that even inside information (think Martha Stewart and ImClone) won’t lead investors to superior returns over the market. So technical and fundamental analysis along with insider information are useless.

Admittedly, we know that anomalies exist and there are going to be differences here and there. Even Dr. Malkiel admits this – which is why it’s called a hypothesis and not a law. But the point to remember here is that even though markets have anomalies they are generally efficient and to the extent markets are inefficient, we won’t be the ones to beat them.

Think of it this way: if hundreds of Wall Street professionals and analysts can’t get it right, what makes us think we can?

So don’t try to beat the market; buy the market.

And that’s the meat and potatoes of this book.

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Don’t Just Walk by That Dime on the Ground!

The Government Dime

The Government Dime (Photo credit: scismgenie)

Have you ever been walking along the street and saw a dime on the ground?  Did you just walk right by, or did you stop to pick it up?  Heck, it’s only a dime, it’s not hardly worth the effort to bend over, right?  But what if it was a dollar?  Or a hundred dollars?  You wouldn’t just walk by that, would you?  What about $1,200?

Unfortunately, many folks do this very thing with their 401(k) plan employer matching funds.  Most employers that sponsor 401(k) plans provide a matching contribution when you defer money into the plan.  Often this is expressed as a certain percentage of your own contribution, such as 50% of your first 6% of contributions to the plan.

So if you make $40,000 a year and you contribute 6% to the 401(k) plan, that means you’ll be contributing $2,400 to the plan from your own funds, pre-tax.  Since your employer contributes 50% of your first 6%, you’ll have an additional $1,200 added to the account for the year.

If you can only afford to contribute 2% (or $800) to the plan, you’re still getting an additional 50% of your contribution added by your employer for a total of $1,200 for the year.  It still makes sense to participate even if you can’t maximize the employer contributions.

However, if you choose not to participate at all, you are giving up the extra money from your employer – forever.  You can’t go back and get this money later when you think you can afford to.  You’re essentially walking by that $1,200 that’s just sitting there on the ground waiting for you to pick it up.

Arguments against

After having this conversation with several folks, I’ve heard many different excuses to not take advantage of a 401(k) plan.  The excuses usually fall into a few limited camps, which I have listed a below.

It’s my money! You’re darn right it is!  And if you don’t participate in your 401(k) plan you’re throwing some of *your* money away.  Many times people believe that when they put money into a 401(k) plan, it’s gone for good.  Nothing could be more untrue!  The 401(k) plan is your property. All of your contributions and (as long as you’re vested in the plan) the employer contributions are yours to keep.  Granted, it’s locked up behind some significant fees and penalties until you reach retirement age (59½ in most cases) – but it’s still yours.

I don’t trust my company – they’ll go bankrupt and lose my money! As noted above, the 401(k) account is yours, not the company’s.  Even if the company goes bankrupt completely, as long as you haven’t invested your entire 401(k) plan in company stock (a la Enron), you still have your 401(k) plan intact.  They can’t lose your money, in other words!  It’s not theirs to lose.

I can’t afford to put money in the plan!  These days, money can be pretty tight (but when isn’t it?).  Unfortunately, regardless of how much money you make, it’s always possible to spend up to and more than what you bring home each payday.  The reverse of this is also true.  Within limits, it’s usually possible to make do with less.  If your paycheck was a dollar less every payday you’d figure out how to get by, right?  How about $78 less?

Using our example from above, for a single person with an annual income of $40,000 per year, before you participate in the 401(k) plan, your total income tax would be approximately $4,054.  If you chose to put 6% or $2,400 in your company 401(k) plan, your income tax would work out to $3,694 – $360 less.  So your take home pay would only reduce by about $78 per paycheck (if you’re paid every other week).  In return for this annual reduction of $2,040 in take-home pay, you’d now have a 401(k) account with $3,600 in it when counting the employer contributions.

Pretty sweet deal, if you asked me (but you didn’t, I just threw this in your face!).  For a total “cost” of $78 per paycheck, you get lower taxes PLUS a retirement savings account worth 75% more than what you had to give up.  Not too shabby.

One great benefit of participating in a 401(k) plan is that once you’ve made the decision to participate, you are deferring this income before it makes it into your hands. You don’t have to (or get to) make a decision about saving, it’s done automatically.  This helps you to get past one of the real difficulties that many folks face with saving: the money always seems to find another place.  This way it automatically goes into savings, before it can find another place.

The bottom line

The best and most important way to assure success in retirement savings is to put away more money over time.  Of course your investment returns will help, but if you don’t save the money, it can’t produce returns, right?  So do yourself a favor and don’t walk past that $1,200 that’s just lying on the ground!

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Avoid Awkwardness in the Afterlife–Confirm Your Beneficiary Designations

Withholding Water

This is a topic that I cover with all clients, and one that I recommend you for everyone with retirement plans and other accounts with beneficiary designations.  Too often we think we have the beneficiary designation form filled out just the way we want it, and then (once it’s too late) it is discovered that the form hadn’t been updated recently – and the designation is not what we hoped for.

I made this recommendation to a client not long ago.  He assured me that he had all of his designations set up just the way he wanted.  His wife, sitting next to him in our meeting, asked him to make sure – talk to the IRA custodian and get a copy of the designation as it stands today.  A bit miffed about it all, he agreed to do so, and did the next day.  Guess what he found – as it stood on that day, his IRA beneficiary designation form indicated 100% of his IRA would pass to his ex-wife from 15 years ago!  Plus, he had no secondary beneficiaries named, which meant that if the ex predeceased him, HER heirs would be the primaries.  Thankfully he had checked on this to avoid this awkward and possibly devastating situation.

Know what was fixed pretty much immediately?

Take the time

You owe it to yourself and your heirs to take the time to review your beneficiary designations and keep copies of them in your “dead file”.  This includes IRAs, Roth IRAs, 401(k)/403(b)/457 plans, and other pensions or retirement plans.  You also may have POD or TOD (Pay on Death or Transfer on Death) designations on non-retirement accounts – confirm these and keep copies as well.

For your standard retirement accounts, such as IRAs, 401(k)s and the like, you typically have the option of naming a primary beneficiary (or beneficiaries) and a secondary or contingent beneficiary or beneficiaries.  It makes a huge difference on these accounts that you name a specific person (or persons) as the primary beneficiary, and a specific person (or persons) as the contingent beneficiary.  With IRAs, if you leave the designation blank, you may be taking away important options for your heirs.

If you leave the primary beneficiary designation blank you are leaving the transfer of your IRA up to the custodian’s default designation.  Quick! What’s your IRA custodian’s default beneficiary designation??  I didn’t think you’d know.

Often this default is your spouse first, and then your “issue” – meaning your children and other descendants.  Other times, the default beneficiary is your estate.  In the event that the estate is the default beneficiary, any beneficiaries of the estate will receive the IRA, but they will not be able to utilize the “stretch” option of receiving payout of the account over their remaining lifetimes.  This is because the IRS rules state that a “named beneficiary” must be in place in order to use the stretch provision.  If no “named beneficiary” exists, the stretch option is not allowed.  If the default is your spouse and your issue, these can be treated as “named beneficiary” if they are alive.

Discuss with your heirs

At face value, even though you think your intent for your beneficiary designations is clear, it might not be clear to your heirs.  For example, you may have chosen to pass along half of your IRA to your youngest child and only a quarter to the older two children because you believe the youngest child can use the money more than the other two.  Or maybe you decided to leave the entire IRA to your oldest daughter, and you want to designate your three sons to split up the farmland – which you believe is an equitable division.

Whatever you’ve decided, especially if there are perceived inequities in your division plan, you should take the time to review your plan with your heirs.  If that makes you uncomfortable, there are a couple of things to consider: First, if you’re uncomfortable discussing it with them, imagine how uncomfortable your heirs may be when the time comes to distribute your estate.  Maybe it’s not such a good idea after all if it could cause contention among your heirs.  Second, if you still believe your split is the right way to go, you should explain your plan to someone – your designated executor would be a good choice. And the designated executor should be a disinterested separate party, someone who isn’t receiving benefit from your estate plan, in order to keep the process “clean”.  Otherwise, if one of the heirs is your executor and the executor is perceived to receive preferential treatment, again you’ll have some contention among your heirs.

If there are complex instructions involved, consider making an addendum to your will.  Instructions in your will would have no impact on the beneficiary designations on your IRAs and other plans (these pass outside of your estate as long as you’ve made specific designations) but other asset divisions aside from retirement accounts may require explanation for your heirs to understand your intent.  Don’t expect that everyone will understand or agree with your thought process when you’re gone.  Explaining your thought process in advance will likely help to ensure that your division plan doesn’t result in a family rift.

Take the time to review your beneficiary designations.  Make sure that you have the primary beneficiary or beneficiaries that you want, and the percentages that you’d like each to have.  Also make sure that you have named contingent beneficiary or beneficiaries in the event that your primaries have predeceased you.  Lastly, make sure that you note how division is done after the death of the beneficiaries: per stirpes or per capita.

How Dollar-Cost-Averaging Can Work to Your Advantage for Your 401(k)

Average Afternoon on Highway 401

When you invest in your 401(k) plan with salary deferrals from each and every paycheck, you are taking part in a process known as Dollar-Cost-Averaging (DCA).  This process can be advantageous when investing periodically over a long span of time, by smoothing out the volatility of the market and giving you an average cost of your investment shares over time.

How does this work, and how can it be advantageous?

Dollar-Cost-Averaging

When deferring income with each paycheck, typically you will be investing in your 401(k) plan each pay period, whether monthly, bi-weekly, or weekly.  Each pay period the same amount is deferred and invested, no matter what the price of the underlying investments are at the time.  Since you’re always putting the same amount into the investment, when the price of the shares is higher, you purchase fewer shares; when the price is lower, you are purchasing more shares.

Note: DCA can be used with any type of investment account, including a 401(k), 403(b), IRA, or even a non-tax-deferred investment account.  We’ll refer to 401(k) accounts throughout the article since this is one of the more common accounts where DCA is employed.

For example, let’s say that you defer $100 every two weeks into your 401(k) plan, and your investment is an index fund.  For the first pay period the price of the fund is $10.  When you make your deferral and purchase this time, your $100 purchases 10 shares.

Then, in the next pay period the price of the shares of your index fund has increased to $10.50.  Now your $100 purchases 9.5238 shares, and you have a total of 19.5238 shares, at a price of $10.50 per share, for a total account value of $205.

On the following pay period the price of your index fund has fallen to $9.50 per share.  Your $100 deferred will purchase 10.5263 shares of the fund – you now have a total of 30.0501 shares at a price of $9.50, with a total account value of $285.48.

The table below plays out purchases with random amounts over a year and then tallies the result:

Pay Period Amount Deferred Price Per Share
Shares Purchased
Total Shares Total Value
1 $100 $10.55 9.4787 9.4787 $100.00
2 $100 $10.44 9.5785 19.0572 $198.96
3 $100 $9.92 10.0806 29.1378 $289.05
4 $100 $10.33 9.6805 38.8183 $400.99
5 $100 $11.95 8.3682 47.1865 $563.88
6 $100 $11.36 8.8028 55.9893 $636.04
7 $100 $9.14 10.9409 66.9302 $611.74
8 $100 $9.54 10.4822 77.4124 $738.51
9 $100 $11.67 8.569 85.9814 $1003.40
10 $100 $9.76 10.2459 96.2273 $939.18
11 $100 $10.46 9.5602 105.7875 $1106.54
12 $100 $9.62 10.395 116.1825 $1117.68
13 $100 $10.23 9.7752 125.9577 $1288.55
14 $100 $10.70 9.3458 135.3035 $1447.75
15 $100 $10.40 9.6154 144.9189 $1507.16
16 $100 $11.52 8.6806 153.5995 $1769.47
17 $100 $11.37 8.7951 162.3946 $1846.43
18 $100 $10.91 9.1659 171.5605 $1871.73
19 $100 $11.55 8.658 180.2185 $2081.52
20 $100 $10.37 9.6432 189.8617 $1968.87
21 $100 $10.19 9.8135 199.6752 $2034.69
22 $100 $9.98 10.02 209.6952 $2092.76
23 $100 $11.89 8.4104 218.1056 $2593.28
24 $100 $11.82 8.4602 226.5658 $2678.01
25 $100 $10.33 9.6805 236.2463 $2440.42
26 $100 $11.41 8.7642 245.0105 $2795.57

The table above was created by generating random prices between $9 and $11.99 over the 26 periods. In real life, your investment wouldn’t likely have such wildly-fluctuating values during the course of 26 pay periods – I used this degree of fluctuation to demonstrate the benefit of DCA when the investment is relatively volatile.

The Advantage

If, instead of investing $100 every two weeks you saved up the entire $2600 and invested it at the end of the 26th pay period, you would be purchasing all of the shares at $11.41, for a total of 227.8703 shares.  By DCA, your $2600 has increased in value such that you hold 245.0105 shares, with a value of $2795.57 – a net benefit of $195.57.

On the other hand, if you had $2600 to invest at the beginning of the table when the price was $10.55 per share, you would have purchased a total of 246.4455 shares, which would be worth a total of $2811.94 at the end of the 26 periods.

You can see from the table that by Dollar-Cost-Averaging, you achieve an average price per share over the period that is beneficial to you – since you’re purchasing exactly the same dollar amount of shares every time.  When the price is high, you buy fewer shares, and when the price is low you buy more shares.  By doing this over a long period of time, such as 30 years, you will avoid the risk associated with saving up a large sum of money and (perhaps) purchasing shares in an investment at a relatively high price by comparison over the savings period.

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