Given the market has always risen over any 17-year period, this poor soul must have bought on October 9, 2007, just before the S&P 500 index threw in the towel and dropped nearly 50%.

That dumb buyer would have “lost” half their money in just a little over a year.

However, if she had been able to hang on for the ride until today, she would have made her money back and then some.

Specifically, $1 million invested on that date (at this worst possible time), after falling to about $500,000, would be worth about $3.4 million!

In other words, this dumb investor would have a total return of about 9.4% per year.

And anyone fortunate enough to have invested on any other day around that time would have earned more!

In fact, I would venture to guess that no long-term, diversified investor has earned as low as a 9.4% return since the last market peak. Or at least, they shouldn’t have!

One other thought, the “smartest” investor who put all her money in the market at the bottom in March 2009 has earned a 16.2% per year return. I would bet no one truly made that move either.

But earning somewhere between 9.4% and 16.2% should feed a well-structured financial plan quite nicely!

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