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

21 Comments

  1. Larry Rogers
    Posted February 26, 2015 at 10:11 am | Permalink

    I’m considering options trading. Would you mind recommending a couple of instructional books? Do you have one?

  2. Haim Ginzburg
    Posted February 26, 2015 at 10:07 pm | Permalink

    Hi Jason
    Great book! A must read for every investor.
    I wish I could go back in time (20 years)…
    I would love to have a quarterly calculator.
    Thanks so much !
    Haim Ginzburg

    • Posted February 27, 2015 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

      You’re most welcome, Haim!

      Thank you for subscribing to The Kelly Letter. You should have your welcome note by now. See you with a new note on Sunday!

      Until then,
      Jason

  3. Joe Screpetis
    Posted March 2, 2015 at 6:43 am | Permalink

    Enjoyed your latest tome! Bought five copies to give as gifts to friends and family I’m so impressed with it.
    I would like to be informed when the quarterly calculator is ready to be rolled out. Cordially, Dr. Joe

    • Posted March 3, 2015 at 8:24 pm | Permalink

      Thank you, Dr. Joe! Your friends will thank you, too.

      The calculator should be done sometime this month. The developer, a math whiz, and I are double-checking the code, logic, formulas and so on and I’ll be installing it on this page shortly after we’re finished. I’ll send an announcement to the free email list (top and bottom of this and every page on the site), so as long as you’re on the list, you’ll know when it’s available. You’re going to love it.

      Jason

  4. mark
    Posted March 3, 2015 at 9:12 am | Permalink

    Hi Jason. Thank you for the great book! I have really enjoyed it. I was wondering what to do if the signal gives sell signals for several quarters when you have a large cash balance to start with. Do you keep the whole balance in cash until a buy?

    Thanks
    Mark

    • Posted March 3, 2015 at 8:13 pm | Permalink

      You’re most welcome, Mark!

      You would keep the balance in the bond fund, and trickle it into the stock fund over the next four quarterly buy signals, no matter how small they are. For example, you might get a schedule like this:

      Q2 Small Buy (move in 1/4 of the capital)
      Q3 Big Buy (move in 1/4 of the capital)
      Q4 Small Sell (hold)
      Q1 Big Sell (hold)

      Q2 Small Buy (move in 1/4 of the capital)
      Q3 Small Sell (hold)
      Q4 Small Sell (hold)
      Q1 Big Buy (move in final 1/4 of the capital)

      At the end of this two-year period, you would have invested the large cash balance gradually at opportune times in the market. Mathematically, this is not always the best approach, but it gets around the very common problem of leaving cash to languish on the sidelines forever for fear of moving it in at the wrong time. The four moves in spread the balance over a larger period, always move in after a quarter of weak growth or a loss, and this assuages your mind that you’re not being careless with the large cash balance.

      Jason

      • Mark Cross
        Posted March 5, 2015 at 11:15 am | Permalink

        So if you had $100,000 to invest and you were starting from scratch now, would you put $25,000 in the equity fund at the end of March and then $25,000 more in each of the next 3 buy signals?

        • Posted March 6, 2015 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

          Not necessarily at the end of March. The end of this quarter is currently on track for a sell signal, not a buy. You would put $25K in at each of the next four buy signals, whenever they happen and possibly with sell signals in between. By the way, if your total capital was $100K, you’d allocate just $80K of it to the equity fund and put $20K in at each of the next four buy signals, just to be clear.

          • Mark Cross
            Posted March 8, 2015 at 10:41 am | Permalink

            Help me understand why it would be on track for a sell signal. IJR is virtually the same as it was at the end of December. Would it not have to be over 3% above this point to be considered a sell signal?

            • Posted March 9, 2015 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

              Ah, I see. Until last Friday, 3Sig in The Kelly Letter was on a sell signal for the quarter because I last ran the signal on Jan 13, not immediately at the end of Q4. The letter’s last action price on IJR was $112.11, so the IJR price target for 3% growth for it this quarter is $115.47. It traded above that from Feb 13 until last Friday. Currently, it’s $114.60.

          • Phil Robins
            Posted March 16, 2015 at 11:36 am | Permalink

            Jason,

            I just finished your 3% book in two sittings and am starting on the “Neatest Little Guide.” I have been a Bill O’Neil disciple for about three years with my (and wife’s) ROTH IRAs and our joint brokerage account, and was Garrett for a year or two before that. I have been DCA’ing my 401(k) during the past 13 years. After reading your book I am going to switch everything over to the 3Sig system. (My wife and I are both 62.)

            1. Do I understand correctly that when starting from scratch within an account that you start with all funds in a bond fund, then move 80% of the bond fund into the small cap fund 25% at a time (at each quarter end) but only when the small cap fund ends the quarter less than 3% above the previous quarter’s closing price?

            2. Or should I go ahead and put 25% in the small cap fund at the next quarter’s end, (just to get started) then track the signal for buy, sell, and hold from there, adding adding the additional 25% amounts during buy signals each quarter until I am fully invested with 20% left in the bond fund?

            Phil

  5. Toni Borrett
    Posted March 5, 2015 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

    Hi Jason, Love the book! Hoping to get the ‘kids’ into it; they’re adults! I’m going to start one for the grandkids! Would also love to hear when/if you investigate what funds are suitable in Australia. I have an idea (we have a much smaller market) but your recommendations would be good. Cheers, Toni

    • Posted March 6, 2015 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

      Thank you, Toni! Good idea for the grandkids. Yes, Australia is on the list of countries needing a foreign equivalent tipsheet. The top requests so far, in order from most to least, are: Canada, UK, Australia, and general Europe. Lots of research to do. I’ll email the free list when the tipsheet is ready.

      • Maureen Clark
        Posted January 5, 2017 at 7:25 am | Permalink

        Hello Jason

        I would like to add to the Austraila tip sheet request too! I recently posed in the Forums a question on this issue.

        • Posted January 6, 2017 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

          Thank you, Maureen. I hope to have one ready for Australia one of these days.

  6. kris
    Posted March 5, 2015 at 7:45 pm | Permalink

    Hi Jason,

    Just finished your book and would like to start your 3Sig system. Let me know when the calculator sheet is ready.

    Thanks

    Kris

    • Posted March 6, 2015 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

      Will do, Kris. As long as you’re on the free list (join at the top or bottom of this and every page on the site), you’ll receive notification when it’s available. Meantime, have a look at the spreadsheet.

  7. Jen
    Posted March 6, 2015 at 5:21 am | Permalink

    Hi Jason,

    Thank you for sharing such a great plan! I first came across 3Sig in your most recent version of The Neatest Little Guide to Stock Market Investing, which I loved! So, I couldn’t wait to read The 3% Signal. I enjoyed reading about more specifics of the 3Sig plan!

    After reading the first book, I started the 3Sig in my IRA, which is going well. However, in The Neatest Little Guide, you also mention the benefit of leveraged accounts. So, we are running a 2x leverage index for my husband’s IRA, which really amounts to a 6% signal, since we are still quite young and can handle the higher ups and downs. My question to you is do recommend going as aggressive as a 3x leveraged index? If so, do you then make it a 9% signal? And what would your Fund/Bond ratio be? I know with 3% signal, you do 80/20. In our 2x leveraged account we do 50/50 to account for lower lows.

    Thanks so much! I can’t wait to give copies of your books out as gifts because what lifetime gifts they will be!

    Jen

    • Posted March 9, 2015 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

      Thank you, Jen!

      Yes, the parameters you specified for running 2x leverage with the plan are consistent with the way I do it in Tier 2 of the portfolio in The Kelly Letter: the quarterly signal rises to 6% and the target allocation changes to 50/50. Even though this has performed well, I’m not confident that it will beat 3Sig over the long term. One of the main drawbacks is that investors have a very hard time watching a 2x leveraged fund fall in a crash, and can derail the whole plan in such a moment. Even the higher bond allocation can’t guarantee getting around this. So, I do still recommend 3Sig.

      Similarly, the risks go through the roof when you get up to 3x leverage, and I don’t feel comfortable endorsing it. I am experimenting with it in the letter, but the experiments are around how to contain the risk to prevent the fund from chewing through all the buying capital in the bond fund. Other controls are needed: limited position size, limited amount of the bond fund that can be used on a single buy signal. These contort the intention of 3Sig so much that they create a whole new plan, not just a modification.

      One method I’m testing that shows promise is layered leveraged, in which a high-risk signal system would layer on leverage as the market sinks. For example, a 1x stock fund would be held and bought down to the -10% level, then a 2x fund down to the -20% level, and finally a 3x into market drops beyond -20%. It’s not yet clear to me whether this works or not. Still testing.

      To be clear: 3Sig is the highest-confidence way to go. There’s a reason I devoted a whole book to it. The permutations are experimental.

      Best wishes,
      Jason

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