Which date of month is best for SIPs?

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We received an overwhelming response to the SIP analysis we released last week (If you haven’t read it, please check out Daily, weekly, or monthly SIPs and our other articles on SIPs: SIPs in debt funds, When you can invest lumpsum instead of SIP, and SIP or lumpsum on switching). As promised last week, we’re back addressing yet another popular question on SIP. Which date is the best for SIPs? 

There are several reasons that investors have in favour of tweaking the SIP dates. These include avoiding SIPs in the first week as most of the salaries are paid in the first week and any mismatch between salary credit and SIP date can see your SIP bounce to preferring a SIP date in the last week as there could be volatility related to derivative expiry. To see if these arguments hold merit, we ran a detailed analysis.

which date is the best for SIPs

What do the numbers say?

To analyse SIP returns for various dates, we selected three dates: 5th, 15th, and 25th. We have looked at the data for a 15 year period, sliced it to see returns in different market cycles and different SIP periods – just as we did in our earlier SIP frequency article. We have looked into:

  • Three 5-year periods: Jan 2005 to December 2009, Jan 2010 to December 2014, Jan 2015 to December 2019
  • Two 10 year periods: Jan 2005 to December 2014 and Jan 2010 to December 2019
  • And one 15 year period: Jan 2005 to December 2019

And like in our earlier analysis, we used the Nifty 100 and Nifty 500 to avoid fund-specific biases and consider different market capitalisation ranges. 

The table below summarizes the returns (IRR) generated in each of these time buckets with selected SIP dates.

From the result, we can see that indeed the returns on SIPs made on 25th scored slightly higher in all observations. But before you jump to change your SIP date, know that the difference in returns is small. In our view, this marginally higher return is not enough to declare the 25th as the ‘best’ SIP date. 

Putting it in actual amounts can help understand better. 

Let’s say you were investing Rs 10,000 per month in the Nifty 100 from Jan 2011 to December 2020. The total amount invested will be Rs 12,00,000. The value at the end of December 2020 will be:

For SIP Investments done on 5th: Rs 22,06,865

For SIP Investments done on 15th: Rs 22,05,085

For SIP Investments done on 25th: Rs 22,08,778 

As you can see, the difference in your investment value at the 5th and 25th of the month is less than Rs 2,000, and that’s on an investment amount of Rs 12 lakh. There is, therefore, no strong case for a specific SIP date. Any date will work – so pick what’s most convenient for you.

There will be minor differences in the comparative returns based on the period under observation. However, the bottomline is that the final corpus generated will be comparable irrespective of the SIP dates chosen.

We did this analysis with only 3 SIP dates. If you wish to do more analysis with different dates and duration before making an opinion, use the spreadsheet given below.

Monthly SIP Calculator spreadsheet

In the spreadsheet, set the ‘From’ and ‘To’ dates for analysis: For example: to select the period 01-01-2005 (1 Jan 2005) to 31-12-2019 (31 Dec 2019) for analysis, provide input as below:

Enter the monthly SIP amount in the appropriate cell provided. Select the two SIP dates you want to compare. The total invested value, Final value, and Internal Rate of Returns will be calculated and displayed as below.

What if you have multiple SIPs?

But what if you did a bit of everything? Another common question many of you wonder is whether you could maximise returns by splitting your SIP up into smaller amounts and run multiple SIPs. To see if this makes any difference in returns, we analysed two cases:

Case 1: Running 2 SIPs of Rs 5,000 each on the 5th of the month in Nifty 100 and Nifty 500.

Case 2: Running a SIP of Rs 5,000 on the 5th of the month in Nifty 100 and another SIP of Rs 5,000 on 25th in Nifty 500

We looked into:

  • Three 5-year periods: Jan 2005 to December 2009, Jan 2010 to December 2014, Jan 2015 to December 2019
  • Two 10 year periods: Jan 2005 to December 2014 and Jan 2010 to December 2019
  • And one 15 year period: Jan 2005 to December 2019

The table below summarizes the returns (IRR) generated in each of these time buckets under both cases.

To look into an example case: For the period Jan 2011 to December 2020, the total amount invested in both Case 1 and Case 2 will be Rs 12,00,000. The value at the end of December 2020 will be:

  • Case 1: Rs 22,10,122
  • Case 2: Rs 22,12,128

Again, as you can see, spreading out SIPs on different dates within a month does not give you any special advantage. As with daily SIPs, too many SIP frequencies can work against averaging.

Here too, note that there will be minor differences in the comparative returns based on the period under observation. 

However, if you still do want to catch opportunities through the month, our suggestion would be this – first, Keep in mind that you will have to keep track of how much cash will be debited throughout the month and ensure that there’s a sufficient balance sitting in the account. Second, such multiple SIPs may be more useful if your monthly SIP amount is large. Third, don’t run SIPs in all funds on each date and instead set a different SIP date for each fund. For instance, say you have a Rs 20,000 SIP split equally in 4 funds and you want to use the 5th and the 25th. Then, set the SIP date for 2 of the funds on 5th and the other two on 25th. In this case, you can consider using the 25th for equity funds.

Conclusion

As said before, an SIP scores in its simplicity. Setting a single date for your SIP reduces the hassle for you, and setting it close to your payday makes it easier to ensure that your investing happens before any spending does. Whether you select multiple dates or a single date, make sure you continue SIP. Don’t lose sight of the biggest SIP benefit, which is that you’re investing. This is more important than how frequently you set the SIP or at what date of the month you are investing.

P.S. If you regularly find your bank account empty by month-end with all the online shopping you’ve done, definitely avoid SIP dates of the last week of the month 🙂

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11 thoughts on “Which date of month is best for SIPs?”

  1. I think data analysis from the just perspective of return will give misleading conclusion.
    If SIP of 1st and 25th days of month gives almost same return than investor will benefit more from SIP of 1st day of month because that installment will earn 12% for next 25 days where as if you keep that installment for 25th day of month than that amount will fetch maximum 5% return only for next 25 days and this process will continue for all next installments.
    So even if return is same, portfolio value will be higher in case of SIP of 1st day of month.

  2. Boy. This is a piece of brilliance. You guys stump all the time. I have 3 to 4 SIPs disbursed across the month. Never really got into the details of it, but you summed it up pretty well.

    The 25th of every month, saw a spike in the returns, is.. As we have monthly expiry contract of NIFTY, so you would notice profit booking ideally. Hence we see a delta of 0.5% to 1.00% between the SIPs. This is my hunch.

    A request – Can you shed some light on small cases. Would like to hear those views as well.

    1. Thanks for your views. On smallcase – makes for easy investing in few stocks at a time – ease of use is the primary advantage as I see. But then whether they make for wholistic, diversified portfolios…no. FOr that a PMS or a MF makes more sense. Stock investing is all about identifying individual stocks at the right time. Hard for that with just a basket and keeping them in good shape. You might want to check some of these reviews: https://www.indiainvestments.wiki/faqs/stocks/is-smallcase-a-good-investment-returns-look-good
      https://www.quora.com/What-is-your-review-of-smallcase-by-Zerodha/answer/Abhimanyu-Gupta-42?ch=10&share=aec1267e&srid=uJ32od

      thanks
      Vidya

  3. Well, My practice is , I haven’t put any SIPs. But yes i know how much i have to invest in a month. Whenever the market is down simply invest before 2 or 3 PM of the same day. I know its silly but gives me a sense of satisfaction that ” I invested when the market was down” 🙂

    1. Nellore Vittal

      I also do the same. I see the weekly and monthly performance and buy the same set of stocks or MF every month on dips. It really helped during the March 2020 fall. I do not really know if it has really helped the portfolio performance, but as you mentioned gives me immense sense of satisfaction. 😊

      1. Rishabh Adukia

        I think the purpose of investing to generate returns on your portfolio and not to provide “satisfaction” to oneself. Hence it would be good to relook and do the maths if it is really helping you out.

    2. What if the market dips more the next day? I guess someone has to do the study and see if this makes a difference 🙂
      (I think it does not).

  4. R Balakrishnan

    SIP returns in Mutual Funds are true to calculation. SIP in any secondary market instruments, tend to be poorer. This is because all the SIP buys are bunched up at the opening of the market. There is no price ‘negotiation’. They just sweep the screen and the investor generally gets the assets at a higher price. If someone plans a SIP in a traded instrument, it is useful IF one can do it personally ( of course, it means having a lot of time and take on the spot calls)

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