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Chart showing some up and some down.

There’s a great way to get rich in the stock market. The trick? Don’t expect to do so quickly.

Year-to-year, the S&P 500 can fluctuate wildly, from gains one year to losses the next. With time, that choppiness evens out — and the chance of losing money over longer stretches diminishes. If you manage to hold out for five years, your odds of losing money are pretty slim. If you can wait for 20 years they are all but nil.

How to can you be sure? Check out the chart below which shows that annualized returns for the S&P 500 were positive for all 20-year periods between 1872 and 2018, according to The Measure of a Plan, which calculated real total returns for the index by taking into account dividend reinvestments and adjusting for inflation.