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Navigating the world of calendar spreads: A strategic approach

Envision having the ability to foresee the stock market’s trajectory. Seems like a far-fetched idea, right? But what if there was a strategy that could help not just predict, but also protect against the unpredictable nature of the market? 

Calendar spreads, a fascinating options strategy, uses time decay and volatility to create profit opportunities. Calendar spreads are explained in this article, including their mechanics, strategies, and adjustments.

What is a calendar spread?

The process of purchasing and selling two put or call options with different expiration dates but the same underlying asset is called a calendar spread, time spread, or horizontal spread. This strategy exploits time decay and implied volatility differences.

Calendar spreads involve an investor selling (or writing) a short-term option and buying (or covering) a longer-term option with the same strike price. Due to time decay, the near-term option will lose value faster than the long-term option, allowing the investor to profit.

Time decay, or theta, is crucial to calendar spreads. Calendar spread options lose value faster as expiration approaches. An investor employing a calendar spread strategy sells a near-term option that loses value faster than a long-term option. Calendar spread investors can profit from this differential time decay which can be significantly affected by implied volatility.

The strategy behind calendar spreads

By purchasing a long-term option at the same strike price as a short-term one, a calendar spread strategy can be implemented. Short-term options are expected to expire worthless or lose more value than long-term options due to time decay. 

Long-term options retain their value better and can be sold for a profit or used as protection if the underlying asset’s price falls.

Factors influencing the success of a calendar spread are: 

  • Time decay
  • Price of the underlying asset
  • Transaction costs

The role of volatility in calendar spreads

Calendar spreads depend on volatility. Both options can rise in price if implied volatility rises. Long-term options have a higher vega (sensitivity to volatility), so they usually rise more than short-term options. Calendar spreads are employed in situations where implied volatility increases.

The impact of strike price selection on calendar spreads

Strike price selection can affect calendar spread profit and risk. If a call calendar spread or put calendar spread strike price is too high or low, the underlying asset may not reach the strike price by the near-term option expiration, resulting in a loss.

Exploring call and put calendar spreads

Call and put calendar spreads are advanced options strategies that sell a near-term option and buy a longer-term option with the same strike price. Option type distinguishes them.

Call calendar spread: You can use this strategy when you expect the underlying asset to stay near the strike price until the near-term option expires.

Put calendar spread: When you anticipate a decline in the value of the underlying asset, this strategy can be utilised. 

Adjusting calendar spreads

Adjustments in calendar spreads are often necessary due to changes in the underlying asset’s price or volatility. The spread profit can get impacted by the changes in implied volatility or a deviation of the underlying asset price from the strike price. Adjustments may reduce risks and boost profits.

How to make effective calendar spread adjustments?

  • Rolling the short option
  • Closing the spread
  • Adding a second spread

An underlying asset price move can turn a profitable spread into a loser, requiring adjustments. Implied volatility can also affect spread options, requiring adjustments. Maintain a watchful eye on the market and perform necessary adjustments to your calendar spread.

Double calendar spread

Four options with two strike prices make up double calendar spreads, an advanced options strategy. This strategy usually involves selling a near-term put and call at different strike prices and buying a longer-term put and call at the same strike prices.

The maximum loss that can occur from a double calendar spread is the amount that was initially invested. It happens when the underlying asset price is not within the two strike prices at the soon expiration of the option.

At near-term option expiration, the potential reward is maximised if the underlying asset price is at or near a strike price. The difference in time decay between near-term and longer-term options and implied volatility determine profit potential. Like single calendar spreads, these spreads must be actively managed to maximise profit and minimise risk.


Mastering calendar spreads can lead to new options trading profits. This strategy’s unique time decay and volatility blend helps navigate market conditions. 

Understanding mechanics, making informed decisions, and adapting to market movements are key to successful single or double calendar spreads. It is crucial to conduct proper research before purchasing. Happy investing!


What is a calendar spread with an example?

Calendar spreads are a kind of options trading in which two or more options with different expiration dates but the same strike price are bought and sold together. As an example, you could purchase a NIFTY 50 call option for July and sell one for May, both with a strike price of 15000.

Do calendar spreads work?

Yes, calendar spreads can work effectively in certain market conditions, particularly in sideways or range-bound markets. They allow traders to profit from the accelerated time decay of near-term options. However, like all trading strategies, they carry risks and require an understanding of options and market dynamics.

What is the risk of a calendar spread?

The primary risk of a calendar spread is the potential for the underlying asset’s price to move significantly, causing a loss if it moves beyond the range of profitability. Additionally, changes in implied volatility can impact the spread’s value. It’s crucial to actively manage these spreads to mitigate risks.

What is the butterfly strategy?

Butterfly strategy uses options with three strike prices. It makes money when the asset’s price stays within a range. The strategy involves buying one call (put) at the lowest (highest) strike, selling two at the middle strike, and buying one at the highest (lowest) strike.

Which is better: a calendar spread or iron condor?

Both calendar spreads and iron condors have their merits. Calendar spreads can profit from time decay and are best in range-bound markets. Iron condors, on the other hand, can profit in a wider price range and are best in low-volatility environments. The choice depends on your market outlook and risk tolerance.

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