3Sig Tools

Nothing on this page will make sense if you haven’t read The 3% Signal. If that’s you, please read the book and return here when you’re ready to begin this life-changing new approach to stock market investing.


3Sig Quick Start cover

3Sig Quick Start Guide.

This one-page primer containing four simple steps will have your 3Sig plan up and running in no time. Free. Get the guide


3Sig Calculator.

This is the easiest way to generate your plan’s customized signals, including a convenient email feature to create a personal history of quarterly actions. Included with a Kelly Letter subscription. Subscribe to the letter

3Sig Calculator screen shot


Single-Page Printable Version of Mark’s Plan.

Below is a link to the single-page printable version of Mark’s plan that you read about in Appendix 1 of The 3% Signal, page 299. It might be helpful to keep handy when rereading Chapter 7 of the book.

Mark’s Plan
[PDF 68 KB]


Your 3% Signal Plan Spreadsheet.

Here’s where you can get a working spreadsheet like the one Mark used, named My 3% Signal Plan. The first three lines of the sheet still contain his data. To make the sheet yours, you’ll want to change the names of the investments in the header from their current IJR and VFIIX to the funds you’re using (if they’re different), and then edit the appropriate data cells as explained next. Please read the following when looking at the sheet for the first time:

  1. IMPORTANT: The formulas in the first three data rows are different from each other because they need to get you started in the plan. Once you’ve filled in the third data row with your own data (Row 4 in the sheet because Row 1 contains the headers), you’ll be able to keep copying and pasting that row’s formulas in all subsequent rows. Only Rows 2 and 3 contain special formulas for use in the starting phase.
  2. Begin your plan in Row 2. Type in the quarter, SPY price, and then the prices and dividends of the stock and bond funds you’re using (IJR and VFIIX in Mark’s sample data). After that, type in your allocation to the stock fund in Cell I2 and to the bond fund in Cell P2.
  3. One quarter later, move to Row 3. As before, add the quarter, SPY price, and then the prices and dividends of your funds, then your quarterly cash contribution in Cell H3. That’s it. Once the row has these inputs, it will automatically calculate everything else and tell you in Column M what to do that quarter.
  4. I recommend highlighting cells with manually-entered data for easy checking later. Cell H3 should be highlighted already in your sheet, but might not be if the spreadsheet software you’re using didn’t import the file correctly. The shading key at the bottom of the sheet shows recommended colors and situations in which to use them.
  5. One such situation is the “30 down, stick around” rule, which you saw Mark follow by skipping four quarterly sell signals from Q203 to Q104, and Q209 to Q110. Notice on his sheet (available in the previous section and in Appendix 1 of The 3% Signal) that he needed to add the adjustments in Column N and made note of this in Column L. He also highlighted that the cells in Columns Q and W were affected by these changes. I recommend following this convention when managing your sheet as well.
  6. Anytime you need to adjust the order, use Column N. When you do so, change the formulas in Columns Q and W by replacing the M cell used in them with the N cell. Just change the M to an N in each cell, as follows (there will be numbers after the letters in your formulas):

    Standard Column Q formula: O-((M*C)/E)
    Modified Column Q formula: O-((N*C)/E)

    Standard Column W formula: G+M
    Modified Column W formula: G+N

    Once you’ve done this one time, you can then just copy and paste the modified cell formula for later usage. Having highlighted the cells will make the modified ones easy to find in the future.

    New! I now offer a version of the sheet that makes this adjustment for you automatically, with dynamic formulas in Columns Q and W. You’ll find its link in the Google Drive section below.
  7. The sheet will automatically tell you if you need to add new cash by showing the amount in Column S. If you want to supply an amount different than the sheet calculates based on the quarterly shortfall, you’ll need to override the advice by adjusting the number of shares you’ll buy by using Column N again. Now you know how. If, for example, the sheet tells you to add $1,000 but you don’t have it, you would enter zero in Column N. Notice Mark doing something similar in Row 35 (Q109) when the plan told him in Cell M35 to buy another 411.66 shares of IJR, but he decided to buy only 50.19 shares. That was all his bond balance could afford and he opted not to add more money. He made note of it in Column L. To read about this moment in his history, see “March 2009″ on page 263 of The 3% Signal

That’s it! Now go vanquish the z-vals. Here’s the spreadsheet in two file formats:

My 3% Signal Plan
Spreadsheet on Google Drive
[Cloud-based. No file download.]

You need a Google Drive account to save a working copy for yourself, which you can then manage online. Do not request permission from me to work directly in the source file. Instead, open the document then go to File > Make a copy... to create your own working copy. Here’s how the File menu drop-down looks in Google Drive:

Google Drive File Menu

New!
My 3% Signal Plan (with auto update of Cols Q and W based on whether Col N is blank)
Spreadsheet on Google Drive
[Cloud-based. No file download.]

Don’t want to update the formulas in Columns Q and W yourself, as explained in Bullet 6 above? Then download this version of the sheet. I’m still offering the non-automated, original version as well because some readers said they prefer updating manually as a way to better understand what’s going on.

My 3% Signal Plan
Spreadsheet as a Microsoft Excel file
[XLSX 9 KB]
Just about any spreadsheet software can open this file format.


Run Your 3Sig Plan In Canada.

The 3% Signal is popular in Canada, but you poor Canucks don’t have access to all the investing options your friends south of the border enjoy. This tipsheet will point you in the right direction. Free. Read the tips

134 Comments

  1. Marc
    Posted June 17, 2016 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

    Hi Jason,

    I recently finished reading The 3% Signal and would like to implement this strategy but I have a question on the GNMA bond fund. I realize interest rates do not look like they will dramatically rise any time soon, however I plan on using this strategy long-term and am wondering if interest rates do begin to quickly rise will the GNMA fund be the best place for cash reserves or would shorter term bond funds be safer?

    Thanks
    Marc

    • Posted July 2, 2016 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

      Hi Marc,

      Ignore all bond market warnings. They’ve been wrong for years. The z-vals are just as clueless when it comes to bonds as they are when it comes to stocks. None among us knows if or when or by how much interest rates will rise, much less what that will mean for bond funds. In addition to this:

      1. 3Sig moves capital into and out of its stock and bond funds, so fluctuating prices on both sides are sometimes advantageous and sometimes not, balancing out to neutral meaning you have nothing to worry about. If bond-fund prices fall for a while, then stock-fund sales that direct capital into bond funds will benefit from the lower bond-fund prices.

      2. For long-term bond-fund holders, 95% of a fund’s profit comes from distributions, not price appreciation. Because you’ll be a long-term user of the bond fund, this will benefit you.

      In short, go with just what the book suggests: a general-market bond fund, medium-term bond fund, or GNMA bond fund. Some of my favorites in the ETF category due to very low expenses and good performance are AGG, BND, CMBS, and SCHZ.

      Go get ‘em!

      Jason

  2. ROBERT
    Posted July 2, 2016 at 7:38 am | Permalink

    Hello Jason,

    I have used the 3% Signal investing technique & tool for 1 year now and all has been successful, I think?

    In any case, I need to clarify how I should be making contributions to my chosen BOND fund (VAB, in Canada). Here’s my situation:

    I currently contribute $75 into my RRSP account on the 15th & last day of each month — $150 Total each month; $450 Total per quarter.

    Consequently, I currently purchase $150 of VAB each month, until the last month of the quarter where I have to use the 3%Sig tool; given, that I have not purchased VAB in the signal month, I am confused as to what to include in the tool. Do I purchase first VAB as per usual in the two previous months and then run the tool or should I run the tool without the current’s month contributions?

    I am really trying to make this process as seamless as possible. Please advise if you feel there is a more advantageous method to make my contributions of $450 quarterly (current deposited semi-monthly to purchase VAB).

    Cheers,

    • Posted July 2, 2016 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

      Excellent, Robert!

      It’s good to see your first 3Sig year has gone well, guiding you through the various media confusions offered up, including endless Fed predictions, getting the bond market wrong, meaningless guesses as to the presidential campaign’s impact on stocks, and the Brexit. The plan is beating the market and the pros, and you’re running it. Great!

      As for your bond-fund contributions, it doesn’t matter whether your “last” payment for the current quarter is counted toward the current quarter’s contributions or the next quarter’s. In fact, just know that you contribute $450 per quarter, and add half of that amount (so $225) to your signal line value. Remember, the signal line is 3% growth plus half of the quarterly contributions. Until you change your contribution amount, just add $250 per quarter to the 3% growth balance to get your signal line.

      On the calculator above on this page, you would enter 250 in the field “New Cash Added to Bond Fund In Current Quarter ($)”.

      Keep up the good work!

      Jason

  3. Thomas
    Posted July 10, 2016 at 2:32 am | Permalink

    Hi Jason,
    I would like to try this in my son’s 401K, the only options for Vanguard domestic equity are:
    V Extended Market Index
    V Institutional Index
    V Prime Cap Fund
    V Windsor or Wellington
    which of these would be an okay substitute for the small cap as these are all large caps
    for the bonds they use V Total Bond Market Index Fund which I assume is close enough

    • Posted July 13, 2016 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

      Hi Thomas,

      Yes, the Total Bond Market is perfect for the bond allocation.

      Please provide the symbols and expense ratios in the plan for the stock funds mentioned, and I’ll help you choose the best one. Sometimes the expenses differ per account type at Vanguard.

      Standing by,
      Jason

  4. Kyle
    Posted September 1, 2016 at 1:02 am | Permalink

    Hi Jason,

    I just finished reading your book and am amazed at how simple and easy to follow you make your plan. Everything you wrote about the stock market and the way people react to it is so true and well written! I can’t wait to start implementing your plan in my account. I have a few questions first:

    1) I have a TIAA CREF retirement account that doesn’t seem to have the best offerings. For my stock fund, would you suggest the cheaper Vanguard mid-cap index fund (VIMAX; 0.08% expense ratio) or the only small cap index fund that is offered at a more expensive 0.31% expense ratio (TRBIX)? I’m not sure if the more expensive fund is worth the higher price to get exposure to the volatility of small caps.

    2) The bond funds available are all expensive. The best options include the following:

    TIDPX (0.46%)
    TBPPX (0.46%)
    TIHPX (0.51%)

    Not very good, right? Any suggestions here?

    3) Finally, this account doesn’t allow market orders. Trades happen at closing prices. Is that something your plan can account for? I’m guessing it’ll just be a little more work.

    Thanks and keep up the great work!!

    • Posted September 16, 2016 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

      You’re welcome, Kyle, and thank you for the enthusiastic comment!

      To your questions:

      1. Go with VIMAX.

      2. TIHPX is more volatile than the others. The point of the bond fund in the plan is safety with some income while the capital awaits a signal for deployment. The remaining two funds are almost identical, but TBPPX has a slightly higher yield so go with it.

      3. Closing prices are fine. The 3Sig Calculator (included in a Kelly Letter subscription), will automatically adjust your next quarterly signal to the prices your last quarterly orders filled at. If you’re doing it manually, just calculate from the price you desired the orders to fill at rather than the price they actually filled at. In your case, the desired price would be the previous day’s close.

      Enjoy your new life of profit without stress running 3Sig!

      Jason

  5. Paul
    Posted September 22, 2016 at 4:11 am | Permalink

    I read the book and am considering investing per the book. Why do we put the money from each check in the bond fund and then calculate quarterly as opposed to 50% from each check into the bond and index stock fund? Since they are both dollar cost averaging, is it for ease of quarterly calculation.

    • Posted September 27, 2016 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

      Paul,

      All contributions go into the bond fund first because we can’t know for sure as they’re going in whether it’s a good time to buy the stock side. By allocating half of their amount to the quarterly signal line, we preserve some buying power but also put money to work based on the price action of the stock side.

      This has worked better historically. Besides, it’s just easier to manage. The 3Sig Calculator and the spreadsheets are set up to factor in half of your quarterly contributions, so the final signal accounts for everything.

      Easy as pie: Put all new money in the bond fund, and follow the resulting signals.

      Happy signaling!

      Jason

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