A Brief History of Timing (Fribble) July 13, 2000

Fribble A Brief History of Timing

July 13, 2000

My short story starts in 1986. I was in my 30s and had decided it was time to start spending my hard-earned money a little more carefully: no more stereos, gadgets, and nonessentials.

I scraped together $1000 and put it in an index fund, though I didn't know quite what an index fund was in those "just beginning to get educated" days. I simply read the ads and decided it was a good place to put my money. Lo and behold, my money began to grow! I was pretty proud of myself — all the time spent watching TV shows about investing and learning the lingo was paying off.

Now the story moves to 1987, and the market is going up! The only problem is I listen to the doom-and-gloomers, and I decide, fool that I am, that I can time the market. So I move to cash. I'm ahead $500, and I'm feeling oh-so-smart. Next, the market goes down a little bit and I buy back in. Up and away goes the market. I AM REALLY SMART!

But, now destiny steps in: I have bought back just in time for the infamous crash of 1987. I'm watching the financial news show all day long and I can't believe what I'm seeing. I'm not feeling so darned smart.

Now, my boyfriend sees how upset I'm getting, and he advises me to sell. So I do. MISTAKE # 2. I lose $700! I still have $800 moved to cash, but I'm dejected.

Fast-forward to the year 2000. I'm now married and have two kids. I used to kick myself for listening to the ex-boyfriend, when it suddenly dawned on me that the lesson I learned was oh so Foolishly cheap. I learned to stay in the market and not try to time it, and to never, ever listen to a fool who has less knowledge about investing than I do.

I manage all the money in our household, as my husband finds such things boring. He does, though, brag about how well I've done in the market. And he's considering early retirement.