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

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
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


  1. Chukwuka Egbujio
    Posted December 9, 2019 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

    Can the 3sig plan be run on cryptocurrency, like bitcoin, as an investment option considering the degree of its volatility?

    • Posted December 29, 2019 at 11:06 am | Permalink

      I doubt the 3% target would apply. I would need to backtest this, but don’t have plans to do so. There is not enough data in crypto to know what a reasonable quarterly target should be, so rebalancing would happen to an almost arbitrary benchmark.

      The process could still work, but would be based on luck as much as anything, i.e. crypto falls this quarter, the plan buys more, then crypto rises by chance. There is no fundamental reason the value of crypto should grow over time, whereas in stocks we have the long upward march of earnings as a guide.

  2. Christian
    Posted October 26, 2019 at 2:39 am | Permalink

    I wonder if you still think a small cap fund best to use? Since the book was written, small caps and the S&P have diverged and the S&P has preformed far better and the small caps. It’s hard to understand how the 3Sig along with volitility would make up this difference.

    • Posted November 18, 2019 at 12:53 pm | Permalink


      It’s true that small caps have lagged recently, but they have done so at times in the past as well and have always ended up reverting. The 3Sig plan will continue using them on the assumption that they will do so again.

      Running multiple permutations of the plan, as I do in my letter, can help. There are times when small caps outperform, and other times when the stocks of the Nasdaq 100 (used in the 9Sig plan) outperform.

      It’s possible to run 3Sig with an S&P 500 index fund, but I would recommend sticking with a small-cap fund for the higher volatility.


  3. Kevin
    Posted October 4, 2019 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

    Question….is the signal line computed using the stock fund balance before or after the buy/sell action that took place three months prior? For instance, this quarter the signal had me buy. Next quarter, do I use the stock fund balance prior to this buy or after this buy? Thank you.

    • Posted October 6, 2019 at 7:10 pm | Permalink

      It’s calculated from the desired price the previous quarter. For the letter, this is almost always the closing prices of the previous Friday. For 3Sig, I add 3% to it; for 6Sig, 6%; for 9Sig, 9%.

      The calculator enables you to put this price in so it bases its calculations on the desired price, not the resulting fill price (usually the Monday after the Sunday letter).

  4. Joe Petti
    Posted August 5, 2019 at 8:04 am | Permalink

    JASON: I READ BOTH YOUR BOOKS AND I AM EXCITED TO START THE 3Sig System and subscribe to your letter.

    With the market appearing to maybe start correcting, what advice would you give to start the plan with a $100,000 for a 76 year old retiree at this time?

    • Posted October 6, 2019 at 7:08 pm | Permalink

      Thank you, Joe!

      I suggest beginning your 3Sig system at the adjusted allocations for retirees, shown in the book. For example, beginning with a 50/50 stock/bond allocation could be correct. It’s based on your time from retirement.

      Happy Sigging,


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