Winter is cold, wet, and dreary. Overcast skies, low temperatures, and icy roads are the norm in parts of the world, and some people don’t like this season. I get it. I lived in Connecticut for a few years after growing up in sunny Southern California. My first winter was depressing; I sometimes felt like Jack Nicholson in The Shining. However, I learned to love the winter because I could ski, hike in the snow, and build massive fires, and it was only one season, and eventually, spring would arrive.
Surviving one season is not hard, especially if you learn to take advantage of it, knowing that the three best seasons – spring, summer, and fall, will arrive shortly. If you don’t like winter, use your off-season to prepare for better days by exercising, reading, or learning a new hobby.
Like the four seasons, stocks can fall into quarters. About three-quarters of the time, stocks rise and finish in positive territory, but they lose value a quarter of the time. It’s a good ratio and favors equity investors with a generational mindset. When stocks fall, identify potential winners or prune losers from your portfolio. In addition, fortify your balance sheet by saving more money or cutting expenses. A down market is an opportunity to prepare yourself for better days ahead.
Since the end of WWII, or 1945, the S&P 500 has risen 79% of the time – up 60 times and down 16, producing an average annual gain of 11.65%. A dollar invested in 1945 is now worth $4,845. The best three-year stretch for the index occurred from August 1984 to July 1987, where it returned 33.41% per year. The worst three-year period happened from April 2000 to March 2003, when it declined 16% annually. The S&P 500 has never lost money over a rolling 15-year period dating back to 1945.
The average calendar loss for the S&P 500 from 1945 has been 11.75%, but the gain following the losing year has averaged 25.76%. Buying stocks in down markets has historically been a winning strategy.
In contrast, long-term government bonds lost money 24 times, with an average loss of 4.14%. A dollar invested in bonds is now worth $77.99, or 62 times less than equities. The average gain since 1945 has been 5.82% or exactly half of the S&P 500 return.
Snow and ice eventually melt. Seasons come and go, and markets always recover. Do not fear down markets. Instead, use them as an opportunity to get ready for the next season in your life.
People ask me what I do in winter when there’s no baseball. I’ll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring. ~ Rogers Hornsby
December 13, 2022
Bill Parrott, CFP®, is the President and CEO of Parrott Wealth Management in Austin, Texas. Parrott Wealth Management is a fee-only, fiduciary, registered investment advisor firm. Our goal is to remove complexity, confusion, and worry from the investment and financial planning process so our clients can pursue a life of purpose. Our firm does not have an asset or fee minimum, and we work with anybody who needs financial help regardless of age, income, or asset level. PWM’s custodian is TD Ameritrade, and our annual fee starts at .5% of your assets and drops depending on the level of your assets.
 Dimensional Funds – Returns Web – 1/1/1945 to 12/31/2021