Weekend Reading: How the Worst Market Timer in History Built a Fortune

This article appears as part of Casey Weade's Weekend Reading for Retirees series. Every Friday, Casey highlights four hand-picked articles on trending retirement topics and delivers them straight to your email inbox. Get on the list here.
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Weekend Reading

You’ve likely heard it before, but this old adage holds true: “Time in the market is vastly more important than timing the market.”


Opposing investment philosophies: Here, you follow the lifelong investment story of twin brothers, Warren and Wally. Born in the 1930s, they are both given a small sum of money to invest as teenagers. While Warren holds onto stocks for the long-term, Wally buys at top, then panic sells after a decline. Eventually, Wally is left with nothing and exits the market. However, on his 25th birthday he inherits a $130,000 trust that comes with specific guidelines.

The power of compounding: With his new sum of money, Wally is required to invest in a diversified equity portfolio, and cannot withdraw any funds until his 91st birthday. In addition, he is not allowed to see the account balance until turning 91, and must keep any remaining funds of the inheritance in a bank account earning no interest.

Over the next 60 years, Wally invests portions of the $130,000 into the market when it peaks, with the inability to sell off during downward turns. This continues until 2021 when Wally turns 91, and can finally view his investment balance. The total amassed to $18.6 million, a 143-time increase from his $130,000 inheritance. The lesson? Long-term compounding can reap investors enormous rewards.

Investing for the long run: If you’re obsessing over when to sell, buy or even questioning if it’s time to get back in the market, hopefully this is a good reminder that when time is on your side, these concerns will make little difference.