Explained: What Is Dollar-Cost Averaging?

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The cryptocurrency market has seen some dramatic peaks and troughs in the last few years. Many people rushed to invest in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies during the bull run of 2017, and consequently lost considerable amounts of money in the subsequent bear market, simply due to the lack of an efficient investing strategy. 

If you are a newbie in the world of crypto, it may seem a challenge to find a strategy that would guarantee success. Indeed, no strategy can guarantee success. However, there is an option that can minimize the risks and bring you steady profits from the long-term perspective.

This article aims to uncover the strategy known as dollar-cost averaging and give some tips on how it can be implemented.

What Is Dollar-Cost Averaging?

Dollar-cost averaging, or DCA for short, is an investing technique that helps to invest a certain amount of money in small increments at regularly scheduled intervals. The strategy uses changes in the market price over long periods.

The choice of the right moment is the most challenging task for beginning traders and investors. The variety of trading signals is so extensive that, at times, it may be tough to choose when to invest. Even experienced traders often make mistakes when reading the market. DCA helps to mitigate the risks.

As DCA involves the regular purchase of a particular asset for a fixed dollar value, its key goal is to decrease the impact of the volatile market, which is a key challenge for crypto investors. This method helps to smooth out the average price when you make a purchase, instead of making a lump sum investment.

DCA is nothing new, and has been popular among institutional investors long before cryptocurrencies were invented. This strategy has been endorsed by none other than Warren Buffett, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, who has recommended it to those who can’t spend much time on investigating the market and developing their own trading strategies.

Though no strategy can mitigate risk entirely, DCA is still able to reduce it to some extent. Keep in mind that the strategy alone can’t provide a successful investment, as there are many other factors to be considered.

How Dollar-Cost Averaging Works

To apply the DCA strategy, an investor should first decide upon the amount to invest and the targeted asset. Since we are talking about cryptocurrency investments, it may be Bitcoin or any other altcoin. Having specified the target price, he/she should divide the investment sum into equal parts and sell them regularly when the market approaches the defined level.

The DCA trades can be handled manually or with the help of certain automation tools. For instance, dollar-cost averaging bots working with cryptocurrency exchanges can significantly simplify the process, as they help investors automate the operations. Such bots perform automatic purchases without considering the market conditions, such as the market movement or the price of the asset. The process is automated in a set-and-forget manner. 

Sticking to a DCA strategy helps to flatten average purchase price and reduce the impact of inefficient decisions. For instance, you may have purchased an asset when its price was skyrocketing. Later, when it pulls back, you may buy more cryptocurrency at a lower price during the market sell-off period, while other market participants sell a huge volume of assets within a short time. Buying when the market is down creates the possibility of smoothing the average price and deriving profit from the investment, something that will hopefully grow in value in time. 

The Efficiency of the Strategy 

The results can be different when disparate assets are employed. The service dcaBTC, with the help of a Bitcoin investment calculator, helps investors to explore different parameters so that they can see their performance when using DCA. The visual graphics help to see if DCA is the right strategy for investments. 

To evaluate the efficiency of your investment, specify the start day, the amount invested, and the interval of repeat purchases. The tool facilitates the purchases on a recurring basis within the specified period. The calculator uses the historical price of Bitcoin to calculate the profit of a user. The calculator’s default parameters show the profit when you — for example — have invested $10 in Bitcoin every week for the past three years.

Using this example, the investor would have spent $1,570 on BTC. This amount would have turned into $11,782 (+650%) at the time of writing. The chart doesn’t only calculate the amount of profit but also compares the efficiency of the strategy applied to other assets. For instance, the same strategy wouldn’t work so well with gold. It would have returned only +16%.

dcabtc.com: a graph of the investment value in Bitcoin when following the DCA strategy

Dollar-Cost Averaging vs. Other Investment Options

In accordance with historical records, the financial markets tend to grow over time, which explains the advantages of dollar-cost averaging. This investment method differs from other methods, as it doesn’t require investors to guess when market prices will be low in order to invest at the right time. Instead, averaging the dollar’s value ensures that investors buy at regular intervals, and can take advantage of market downturns by automatically buying more assets for the same amount of money. Averaging the value of the dollar removes some of the guesswork from an investment and turns it into a more predictable routine.

Investors can also select a “buy and hold” strategy, not intending to sell the assets predicting the growth of their value. The goal of this strategy is to enter the market and remain there, despite all fluctuations. Timing the market is not an essential factor when this strategy is employed. 

Although the holding strategy seems to be easier, DCA can be a more effective option. In the end, an investor following the DCA strategy, buying at regular intervals, can end up having more Bitcoin than someone who invested the same amount in one lump sum. Both started investing simultaneously but employed different strategies.

Many investment companies offer solutions to facilitate the usage of the DCA strategy. They often allow investors to create automatic investment plans in which investors can specify the dollar amount and frequency of investment, and a bank account for automatic withdrawals of funds. Thus, the averaging of the dollar value is done automatically, ensuring that the investor doesn’t forget to make the planned purchase. It also helps make budget planning easier, as the same dollar amount is purchased at regular intervals.

Pros and Cons of Dollar-Cost Averaging

The DCA strategy is one of the best options for markets with a high level of volatility. The strategy was designed to cater to an investor’s needs in such markets, mitigating the risks of buying assets when their prices are soaring. The concept of splitting a large investment amount into multiple smaller purchases is appreciated by investors who can’t afford to make investments in a lump sum. 

However, critics argue that the use of this strategy brings losses when the market performs well. For instance, when the market is in a bull trend,  traders who invest earlier reap bigger profits. So the strategy has its pros and cons, which we cover fully below. 

Pros of Dollar-Cost Averaging

The benefits of using the DCA strategy include:

Mitigated risk

An investor doesn’t have to invest a considerable amount, in one lump sum, immediately. Consequently, this strategy reduces the risk of investing at the top price. It also reduces the burden of trying to time the market. In a volatile cryptocurrency market, the asset’s value can fall many times within a relatively short period. 

A good solution for novices

As we know, the crypto markets can be very hard to predict. As a result, even highly experienced traders encounter problems when predicting the movement of selected assets or even the whole market. Those who are new to the entire world of investing and trading often lose considerable sums of money because they don’t have a strategy in place. With this in mind, the DCA approach is a much safer investment strategy, as it helps to offset large market dips and works for investors with any level of expertise.

The possibility of investing small amounts

The DCA strategy is suitable for a broader range of investors, since a sizable up-front investment isn’t required immediately. This makes it affordable to those who can’t fork out a massive amount of capital at once. Also, as investors can have doubts concerning an asset and feel uncomfortable investing their savings in it, it becomes psychologically easier for them to invest small chunks from paychecks regularly. 

More time to research the asset

Those who seek quick profits may quit and stop investing, getting angry when the price of an asset drops. It’s important to understand that DCA is not a scheme for getting rich fast. This strategy is long-term, as its goal implies taking advantage of market downturns without risking capital. Beginning investors can be easily discouraged by negative episodes. Therefore, the DCA strategy can be an excellent solution for them. It gives them time to do deeper research, while investing small chunks of a fixed amount.

The opportunity to buy assets with a discount

When you don’t invest the whole sum that you have at hand, you may have some cash left over that you can use to buy more cryptocurrencies at dips. For instance, in November 2018, Bitcoin collapsed to $3,500  after it had been traded at $6,500 for several months in a row. Such periods can be used as an opportunity to dollar-cost average. Taking into account a parabolic rally soon after the price crash, the followers of the DCA strategy could take great advantage of it — especially when the price skyrocketed to $14,000  three months after the crash.

Less emotional stress

This aspect is sometimes neglected, though it is incredibly important for the mental health of market participants. Those who use the DCA strategy don’t worry so much about the price swings, which helps to avoid constant anxiety. 

Cons of Dollar-Cost Averaging

The drawbacks of dollar-cost averaging are as follows:

Trading costs

Traders have to pay fees for making transactions. Following a DCA strategy usually incurs more trading costs. However, taking into account the fact that this is a long-term strategy, the gains received from it should more than cover the fees, which will hopefully be insignificant compared to gains achieved in the future. 

Lack of possibility to buy exact bottoms

One of the drawbacks of the DCA strategy is the possibility of missing out on a considerable gain you could have obtained from investment of a large sum in one go. However, it’s necessary to use the right timing for such operations if you want to see a significant profit from an investment.

More time for the desired exposure

Much time is required to make the strategy work. Depending on the investor’s DCA structure, it can take from three to twelve months to get any sustainable results.

Worse performance in a strong bull market

The choice of the strategy depends upon the situation in the market. The DCA strategy may not always be the best choice. For example, it may result in losses at the beginning of the long-term bear market that may last for a few years. It may be better to invest a significant sum in cryptocurrencies if you are sure that Bitcoin is at the beginning of a bull cycle.

The Bottom Line

The DCA strategy is a good choice for less-experienced investors, who are guided by emotions and thus may be prone to making incorrect choices. If you seek long-term profits and are ready to wait for a substantial period before your investments pay off, this strategy is exactly the fit for you.

Disclaimer

This article is intended for and only to be used for reference purposes only. No such information provided through Bybit constitutes advice or a recommendation that any investment or trading strategy is suitable for any specific person. These forecasts are based on industry trends, circumstances involving clients, and other factors, and they involve risks, variables, and uncertainties. There is no guarantee presented or implied as to the accuracy of specific forecasts, projections, or predictive statements contained herein. Users of this article agree that Bybit does not take responsibility for any of your investment decisions. Please seek professional advice before trading.

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