First time investor looking to jump in market but apprehensive with record highs

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metfan99
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First time investor looking to jump in market but apprehensive with record highs

Post by metfan99 » Tue Nov 21, 2017 9:30 am

Hi all,

I am a new Boglehead. I was tempted to work with a financial planner, but read repeatedly that it would make more financial sense to go at it alone with the infinite wisdom of friends and this board. My wife and I bought our "forever home" and want to enter the market. We stockpiled a good bunch of money (about $360k), and want to prudently enter the market. We are concerned about entering at all-time highs, but obviously want to make our money grow. We both work for the government, and have a young child with expensive day care costs, so we really are counting on that $360k to be our means to grow money, and pay for things like home renovations down the way. Would appreciate any advice on how to proceed with investments. Would dollar cost averaging over a period of time make sense? Below are some details about us. Any advice on asset allocation, any particular stock or bond funds that would make sense,and how much we should enter at a time would be very much appreciated! We also want to build a 529 fund for our daughter, I know everyone says retirement funding is most important, but the college planning is quite important to us too.

- we are both in our mid-30s
- mortgage of $550K (very high property taxes of $21k), 3.5%
- each have approximately $145K in a TSP lifecycle fund, we each contribute $7,800 per year Roth
- $360k currently in a 1.1% money market (want to keep 60k of that for emergency fund but invest the rest)
- $5k in Utah Vanguard 529 plan (contribute $500 per month towards it)
- we want to be able to create long term savings, but also have some accessible money for things like kitchen renovation in next 3-5 years
- for now we could probably save an additional $10k per year, but if we have a second child, we'll break even living off salaries

Thanks so much!

msk
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Re: First time investor looking to jump in market but apprehensive with record highs

Post by msk » Tue Nov 21, 2017 10:15 am

I lived by these rules-of-thumb since my student days, retired early at 55, now at 73. Your life trajectory will be different, but these rules did well by me, currently at 8 figures NW:

1. Save and invest 30% of after tax income. Payment of principal on a home mortgage counts, but not interest.
2. Never buy a house worth more than 3x annual income, or 2.5x joint income. You may afford the monthly payments but expensive homes carry expensive maintenance commitments, be it landscaping or air conditioning.
3. Never acquire a car (or cars if multiple), by purchase or lease, worth more than 6 months income.

The most important one is 1. If you practise that diligently you never have to think of when you are jumping in, timing, since your investments in subsequent years will be much larger than your initial buy into the stock market. The stock market is almost always at its highest, so trying to time it is a toss up, with you as the probable loser. If the stock market makes you terribly nervous, perhaps you can repay some of that large mortgage. It'll 'earn' you an interest rate higher than bonds, and unless you have been very unlucky in choosing your home, its value ought to keep up with inflation, perhaps even rise beyond that, possibly even well beyond inflation in a HCOL area. IMHO there is no such thing as a forever home in your 30s. If you satisfy 1. above you will almost certainly be much wealthier in your late 40s than you are now, and probably will wish to upgrade... Anyway, I have always considered paying off the mortgage on my home as a high priority, if only for the feeling of security. Keeping a lot of cash aside for possible renovations, etc. is IMHO a waste of investment time. Fund the renovations from next year's 30% savings, or the following years'...

mhalley
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Re: First time investor looking to jump in market but apprehensive with record highs

Post by mhalley » Tue Nov 21, 2017 10:26 am

Ahh, the classic dca vs lump sum dilemma. The wiki states that if you lump sum, then you will make more money something like 66 percent of the time.

https://www.bogleheads.org/wiki/Dollar_cost_averaging
But if investing all at once followed by a big drop will scare you, it is fine to dca the money.
You can also read about what happens when you are the worst market time in history.


https://www.cnbc.com/2015/08/27/the-ins ... -ever.html

betablocker
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Re: First time investor looking to jump in market but apprehensive with record highs

Post by betablocker » Tue Nov 21, 2017 10:27 am

I understand the psychological reluctance to investing at a high in the market but I’m just as reluctant to lose the money I have invested including the money I invested and grew 10-20 years ago. So when you think about it every person in the market is in the same boat. That said I can understand that it feels different even if it isn’t different than my situation. Remember the quote “Far more money has been lost by investors preparing for corrections, or trying to anticipate corrections, than has been lost in corrections themselves.” – Peter Lynch.

First pick an asset allocation. Read Swedroe’s financial plan guide or Ferri or Bernstein. They are all on the wiki. Find something you can live with. Then maybe you want to go conservative with 50%+ in bonds or you can dollar cost average in. Add 1/5 or 1/4 every month. That is a suboptimal way to do it rather than just putting it all in but it can ease the psychological burden. There’s no magical answer. If you want return you must take some risk. Right now that money is losing 1-2% a year in real terms. That’s a guaranteed loss. Good luck.

dbr
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Re: First time investor looking to jump in market but apprehensive with record highs

Post by dbr » Tue Nov 21, 2017 10:31 am

mhalley wrote:
Tue Nov 21, 2017 10:26 am
Ahh, the classic dca vs lump sum dilemma. The wiki states that if you lump sum, then you will make more money something like 66 percent of the time.

https://www.bogleheads.org/wiki/Dollar_cost_averaging
But if investing all at once followed by a big drop will scare you, it is fine to dca the money.
You can also read about what happens when you are the worst market time in history.


https://www.cnbc.com/2015/08/27/the-ins ... -ever.html
Yes, in any case DCA will not help you if the crash comes just after you have finished your process. I would suggest that anxiety over DCA is really anxiety over the prospective asset allocation, which should be reexamined. Either that or it is something that has been read about without actually understanding how it works out. The 66% benefit of lump sum investing is, of course, nothing other than the chances of being in a market being more often beneficial than the chances of not being in a market.

The other issue is the one regarding whether or not one can successfully time a market, whether baldly stated or wrapped up in tactical asset allocation (q.v.).

MotoTrojan
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Re: First time investor looking to jump in market but apprehensive with record highs

Post by MotoTrojan » Tue Nov 21, 2017 10:35 am

DCA if it helps, but don't let it go more than 6-12 months. I'd at-least lump-sum the majority of it.

Perhaps go for a CD for kitchen remodel or similar funds you may want in the near-term.

Also, look into tax-efficient fund placement. You don't want to hold bonds in taxable; ideally just Total US & Total International. Then bonds and remaining equities (to make up your AA) in your tax-advantaged space. If you have traditional and Roth, bonds in traditional and high-growth in Roth.

metfan99
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Re: First time investor looking to jump in market but apprehensive with record highs

Post by metfan99 » Tue Nov 21, 2017 10:40 am

Appreciate all the replies. I fully understand that I should pull the trigger and not worry about "timing the market." The particular reluctance is here, we've built a nice nest egg, and for the next 5-10 years, I don't see being able to stash away much more money, so we really are banking on the current investment money to grow.

Was thinking of something like a 50-50 asset allocation for now, and then getting more aggressive should the market lower.

dbr
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Re: First time investor looking to jump in market but apprehensive with record highs

Post by dbr » Tue Nov 21, 2017 10:44 am

metfan99 wrote:
Tue Nov 21, 2017 10:40 am
Appreciate all the replies. I fully understand that I should pull the trigger and not worry about "timing the market." The particular reluctance is here, we've built a nice nest egg, and for the next 5-10 years, I don't see being able to stash away much more money, so we really are banking on the current investment money to grow.

Was thinking of something like a 50-50 asset allocation for now, and then getting more aggressive should the market lower.
Various retirement planning models are available to try to put some quantitative estimates behind these kinds of questions. As much uncertainty as exists in such modeling you should probably be looking at these resources. You could start with www.firecalc.com but there are many others including even the one at Vanguard. Note that the process is one of successive approximations that are more and more accurate as one gets closer to retirement and as one progresses in retirement. The outcome becomes certain on the day you die.

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patrick013
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Re: First time investor looking to jump in market but apprehensive with record highs

Post by patrick013 » Tue Nov 21, 2017 11:40 am

I'd never buy stocks at 25 PE, too overbought for me. I'd wait
till next year. My discretion. But I know a few people that
are definitely holding. I like a good entry point, a better entry
point.
age in bonds, buy-and-hold, 10 year business cycle

betablocker
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Re: First time investor looking to jump in market but apprehensive with record highs

Post by betablocker » Tue Nov 21, 2017 1:43 pm

metfan99 wrote:
Tue Nov 21, 2017 10:40 am
Appreciate all the replies. I fully understand that I should pull the trigger and not worry about "timing the market." The particular reluctance is here, we've built a nice nest egg, and for the next 5-10 years, I don't see being able to stash away much more money, so we really are banking on the current investment money to grow.

Was thinking of something like a 50-50 asset allocation for now, and then getting more aggressive should the market lower.
Do what you'll stick to. 50/50 lowers risk but returns as well so if stocks go sideways for 5 years returns will be meager. If they go way up you missed the boat and if they go down you were smart for not over-allocating but still bloodied. All those things are possible and no one knows the answer. I sympathize. We all face the same dilemma. I guess my advice is to not think about the fact that you have cash as any different than any other investor's situation. We all have to decide whether to buy, sell, or stick at all times. All you can do is what everyone does: understand your ability, willingness, and need to take risk based on how long you have to retirement, current expected returns (low), your spending needs in retirement, other spending needs you have from saving in between (houses, college, etc.), savings rate, etc,. You then allocate accordingly.

For example, if you think you'll need to tap the nest egg in the next 5 years, you might allocate more to bonds but the trade off is less potential return.

Jack FFR1846
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Re: First time investor looking to jump in market but apprehensive with record highs

Post by Jack FFR1846 » Tue Nov 21, 2017 1:52 pm

You have a world of options, even if you don't make the investment decision yet.

1.1% money market?

Redneck Bank Megamoney account pays 1.5% up to $35k. Put $35k there.
Ally pays 1.25%. Put more money there.

This increases your return with zero risk and can be used as your emergency fund.

There's constant debate but an option is to pay some amount on your mortgage. You're not going to make 3.5% (or even whatever tax advantaged amount) elsewhere. Pay towards the mortgage and take out a HELOC. The HELOC gives you money availability to pull out of the house if you need to and costs nothing if you don't. I have a HELOC from when we adopted our first son. He's now 4th year in college and I could pull out $40k tomorrow by writing a check.

US Savings bonds. It's another good option and when it comes time for college, so long as only your and your wife's names are on it, you can use it totally tax free (unless you make megabucks) for college use. I've been doing this.

Do 529 accounts in your state give you a tax deduction? If it does, have at it. I'm not a big fan myself when there's no tax advantage, but that's me. I opened our first one ever this year because my state just started giving a tax deduction for the first $2k. I put in $2k and already used it towards tuition.

Regarding timing the market......market highs occur every 18 days on average. This is over the last 100 years. Ignore that noise and either invest or don't. I've given you plenty of places to put well over $500k.
Bogle: Smart Beta is stupid

Lou354
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Re: First time investor looking to jump in market but apprehensive with record highs

Post by Lou354 » Tue Nov 21, 2017 2:14 pm

I would use some of that money to maximize your TSP contributions over the next few years, and I'd make those contributions traditional rather than Roth. I'd also contribute to a Roth IRA for each of you over the next few years, either with direct Roth contributions or using the backdoor method if not eligible for direct Roth contributions. With the rest, 50/50 in a taxable account sounds reasonable since some is for long term and some for near term use. Some of the "bond" portion could actually be put into CDs to cover the cost of that kitchen renovation.

Karamatsu
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Re: First time investor looking to jump in market but apprehensive with record highs

Post by Karamatsu » Wed Nov 22, 2017 5:10 am

Whether you DCA or go all-in at once, what you want is an asset allocation that you can be comfortable with no matter what the market does. This is because, over the next 30-40 years, it will probably do just about everything. We all know that, but nobody knows when. So treat your uneasiness about investing at high valuations with the respect it deserves, and choose an asset allocation that you can be comfortable with EVEN IF you went all-in with a lump sum, and equity market indices drop 50% the next day.

What would that allocation be? Well the conservative advice when I started investing was age-in-bonds, so for you guys maybe 35% bonds, 65% equities (for the investment portfolio, after the emergency fund, etc, gets taken out). But if you really thought that tomorrow your $360K could go to $243K, and (as those of us in 2000-2001, and 2008 will remember well) no uptick in sight, would that work for you, given your responsibilities? If not, dial back the equities until both you and your wife start to feel, "Yes, I would be OK watching our portfolio go down that far, and continue investing at those same percentages without losing too much sleep at night."

Once you find that balance point in the numbers, then you're ready to invest, and by definition, you'll feel comfortable enough to do it as a lump-sum. Not that you have to! You could still DCA, say, 1/3 over the next three quarters. But at least you would know that the allocation itself is about as right as you can make it.

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Re: First time investor looking to jump in market but apprehensive with record highs

Post by ruralavalon » Wed Nov 22, 2017 5:57 am

Welcome to the forum :) .

metfan99 wrote:
Tue Nov 21, 2017 9:30 am
Hi all,

I am a new Boglehead. I was tempted to work with a financial planner, but read repeatedly that it would make more financial sense to go at it alone with the infinite wisdom of friends and this board. My wife and I bought our "forever home" and want to enter the market. We stockpiled a good bunch of money (about $360k), and want to prudently enter the market. We are concerned about entering at all-time highs, but obviously want to make our money grow. We both work for the government, and have a young child with expensive day care costs, so we really are counting on that $360k to be our means to grow money, and pay for things like home renovations down the way. Would appreciate any advice on how to proceed with investments. Would dollar cost averaging over a period of time make sense? Below are some details about us. Any advice on asset allocation, any particular stock or bond funds that would make sense,and how much we should enter at a time would be very much appreciated! We also want to build a 529 fund for our daughter, I know everyone says retirement funding is most important, but the college planning is quite important to us too.

- we are both in our mid-30s
- mortgage of $550K (very high property taxes of $21k), 3.5%
- each have approximately $145K in a TSP lifecycle fund, we each contribute $7,800 per year Roth
- $360k currently in a 1.1% money market (want to keep 60k of that for emergency fund but invest the rest)
- $5k in Utah Vanguard 529 plan (contribute $500 per month towards it)
- we want to be able to create long term savings, but also have some accessible money for things like kitchen renovation in next 3-5 years
- for now we could probably save an additional $10k per year, but if we have a second child, we'll break even living off salaries

Thanks so much!
metfan99 wrote:
Tue Nov 21, 2017 10:40 am
Appreciate all the replies. I fully understand that I should pull the trigger and not worry about "timing the market." The particular reluctance is here, we've built a nice nest egg, and for the next 5-10 years, I don't see being able to stash away much more money, so we really are banking on the current investment money to grow.

Was thinking of something like a 50-50 asset allocation for now, and then getting more aggressive should the market lower.
Tax-advantaged accounts.
It's important to make use of tax-advantaged accounts where possible.

I suggest that you both immediately increase your contributions to the TSP to the annual maximum allowed ($18k/yr this year, $18.5k/yr starting next year) , and draw from the $300k (net ex-emergency fund) money market account to fund living expenses you would otherwise have paid out of your paychecks. This has the effect of transferring money from your money market account into the TSP accounts.

1) Which TSP Lifecycle fund are you using?

2) Are you eligible to contribute to an IRA, either traditional or Roth?

3) What is your tax bracket, both federal and state?

4) Of the $360k in the money market fund you want to reserve $60k for an emergency fund. About how much of the net $300k do you want to reserve "for things like home renovations down the way"?

You can simply add this to your original post using the edit button, so that all of your information is in one place.


DCA??
Lump sum or in stages? There is much discussion here about the two approaches. I am in the invest it "all at once" camp. When investing a large chunk of new money, "all at once" works out better about 2/3 of the time. Please see the Vanguard paper, "Dollar-cost averaging just means taking risk later".

Here is another interesting article to read -- "What if you only invested at market peaks?"

The compromise solution is to invest 50% in a lump sum now, and invest the rest in stages (for example an additional 05% on a predetermined date each month for the next 10 months). Don't needlessly agonize over when the best time may be to invest.



Asset allocation.
In the mid 30s I suggest about 20 - 25% in bonds. This is expected to substantially reduce volatility (risk), with only a relatively slight decrease in return. Graph, "An Efficient Frontier: the power of diversification". Please see the wiki articles Bogleheads® investment philosophy, part 3 "Never bear too much or too little risk", and "Asset allocation".

I suggest around 20 - 30% of stocks in international stocks. Vanguard paper (March 2012), "Considerations for investing in non-U.S. equities". Historically, allocating 20% of an equity portfolio to non-U.S. stocks would have captured about 84% of the maximum possible diversification benefit, and allocating 30% of an equity portfolio to non-U.S. stocks would have captured about 99% of the maximum possible diversification benefit (p. 6). You can find lots of debate here on international allocation, opinions rangeing all the way from 00% to 50% of stocks in international stocks. If you want more viewpoints on international stocks please try the Google search box (upper right, this page).

This works out to about 20% bonds, 20% international stocks, and 60% domestic stocks. Asset allocation is a very personal decision. You must decide on an allocation that is comfortable for you based on your own ability, willingness and need to take risk.
"Everything should be as simple as it is, but not simpler." - Albert Einstein | Wiki article link:Getting Started

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oldcomputerguy
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Re: First time investor looking to jump in market but apprehensive with record highs

Post by oldcomputerguy » Wed Nov 22, 2017 7:00 am

mhalley wrote:
Tue Nov 21, 2017 10:26 am
You can also read about what happens when you are the worst market time in history.


https://www.cnbc.com/2015/08/27/the-ins ... -ever.html

This. Please read about Bob, and take it to heart. The article referred to by Mr. Rosenberg in the CNBC article can be found here.
Anybody know why there's a 20-pound frozen turkey up in the light grid?

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Re: First time investor looking to jump in market but apprehensive with record highs

Post by chevca » Wed Nov 22, 2017 7:38 am

With nearly $300k combined in TSP accounts, you guys are hardly "first time investors". What is your AA, or what lifecycle fund?

Why did you build up such a stockpile of cash? What was it intended for? Having done that seems to make you guys very conservative. Are you sure you're ready to throw half or more of that in stocks?

I like the idea given above to leave it as is and start to max. out the TSP accounts and Roth IRAs for both. Live off the cash while doing this and do the renovations from it. Maybe look into a tax exempt bond fund for a good chunk of it to earn more than the MM account, but not much risk while it's being used.

selters
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Re: First time investor looking to jump in market but apprehensive with record highs

Post by selters » Wed Nov 22, 2017 8:38 am

You can always pay off some debt and/or increase your emergency fund.

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Re: First time investor looking to jump in market but apprehensive with record highs

Post by RRAAYY3 » Wed Nov 22, 2017 8:57 am

I posted something similar a while ago ... finally I dove in (literally on the day of "record highs") ... did a lump sum to take advantage of admiral shares then DCA'd into that lump sum ... long story short the market has reached a new high since then countless times and I'm up ~10% since I dreaded investing at the "market peak"

Buy the total us market and total international marker , ideally admiral shares, then contribute monthly to whichever fund is lacking according to your desired allocation.

Basically, dump 20K (10K into each) and then next month let the market decide which 1 you allocate to. My investing is now officially boring - and I love it.

Short version: if you keep waiting, you'll never do it. Dive in, with enough emergency fund to hold you over should disaster strike - and buy up even more should the market dip. I don't see a recession or any significant pullback insight any time soon. If there is, I'll be ready to pounce with even more contributions.

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Earl Lemongrab
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Re: First time investor looking to jump in market but apprehensive with record highs

Post by Earl Lemongrab » Wed Nov 22, 2017 2:50 pm

Another way to look at it is that (in the abstract) for someone who has money in the market, every day that they don't sell is the same as making a lump sum investment of that amount. So in my case each day I invest > 1million in the stock market.

Now, it's not quite that simple because of taxes. If I truly sold my entire portfolio, there would be substantial capital gains and consequent taxes. But even if you restrict it to amounts that are in tax-advantaged accounts, then every single trading day I lump sum > 400k into the market.

One of the problems people have is placing too much emphasis on "what is". Because you have cash now, you (and really others) think of it differently than invested money. If you came here and said you had 300k in a 401(k) and were thinking of selling it all because you're worried about record highs, you'd get very few people recommending that you go ahead and sell, then DCA back in. Yet there is no financial difference. Any difference is psychological.

It's nice to think that you're nervous now, but if the market crashed you'd quit being nervous and delightedly shove that money into the market at lower valuations. There's a good chance that's not would happen. You'd be even more scared. What if this is just the beginning? Maybe the bottom will fall out! What about double-dip recession!! That's the kind of thing we heard a lot from various quarters in 2008-2009. I recall seeing a couple on Suze Orman who had sold everything during the crash, and were staying out because they "didn't see the fundamentals." Like they knew anything about "fundamentals". They were scared.

I suggest getting a few good books on investing and get away from being scared. The first thing to understand is that the market will go down at some point. You don't know when, and you don't know how much. It's very possible that the market will never be lower than it is now in your lifetime. There are many many "record highs" in the past for which this is the case.

It's also possible that a brutal bear market will begin tomorrow. I devised my portfolio and brought in over 200k of new money from bank accounts in 2007, right around the peak before the crash. So your fear actually happened to me.
This week's fortune cookie: "Your financial life will be secure and beneficial." So I got that going for me, which is nice.

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Re: First time investor looking to jump in market but apprehensive with record highs

Post by CurlyDave » Thu Nov 23, 2017 1:22 pm

I am another one in the "all at once camp".

Think about the history of the term "Dollar Cost Averaging". I am old enough to remember when we were just exhorted to "save" and possible to "invest". The way the average working stiff did that was to put aside a portion of each paycheck, usually into a savings account, and then would periodically move the money into an investment account.

When the financial community got around to analyzing the effects of this, they saw several advantages, and came up with the DCA name. Sure makes it sound like a super-sophisticated investing technique. The reality is that it is about the only technique open to a family living on a paycheck. To the extent that giving it a fancy name makes more people likely to do it that is a great benefit, but we need to realize that DCA is just that -- a fancy name for plain old common garden saving and investing.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Now, think about the money you have. You have already invested it in fixed income assets through the DCA technique. Now, having found this site, you realized that your asset allocation is tilted too far toward fixed income, and want something with some more zip. If moving it into equities in pieces over time is what makes you comfortable, by all means do it that way. But the odds favor putting it in all at once.

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randomizer
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Re: First time investor looking to jump in market but apprehensive with record highs

Post by randomizer » Thu Nov 23, 2017 8:17 pm

Dump it in all at once. 20 or 30 years from now the amount involved will seem trifling to you.

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Re: First time investor looking to jump in market but apprehensive with record highs

Post by whodidntante » Thu Nov 23, 2017 8:27 pm

You would probably be more apprehensive after a big rout.

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Re: First time investor looking to jump in market but apprehensive with record highs

Post by Sandtrap » Thu Nov 23, 2017 8:33 pm


3funder
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Re: First time investor looking to jump in market but apprehensive with record highs

Post by 3funder » Fri Nov 24, 2017 6:15 am

What do you mean by "enter the market"? Which market? Do you mean you wish to invest in domestic stocks? Developed international stocks? Emerging international stocks? If you're concerned about record highs, it's important to keep in mind that valuations often vary among markets.

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