NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- This tends to spook people. The thought of a stock market crash or meaningful correction. More than anything, it's the volatility that scares investors.
I can understand that you might fear crashes, corrections and volatility if you need your money now. The last thing somebody nearing or in retirement or ready to tap capital for an important expenditure wants to deal with are wild market gyrations and extended downside.
But, if you're a couple of years (slightly more, slightly less) away from something big, you probably should have your portfolio structured defensively anyway.
Earlier this year, when I wanted to keep a pool of money liquid, I took profits in everything (and a couple of losses), leaving only three positions intact -- the somewhat defensive, but hardly sleepy American Electric Power (AEP - Get Report) and Becton, Dickinson and Company (BDX - Get Report) as well as one of my favorite speculative plays, Pandora (P - Get Report).In that account, I was fine with a 13% stock/87% cash position. Now, as I've made the decision to take that cash and reinvest it in equities, I'm just waiting for the other shoe to drop. I'm getting impatient. That's the biggest thing I have to work on as an investor -- being more patient. For instance, right now I'm salivating at Starbucks (SBUX - Get Report) under $50 a share. The stock is up about 24% over the last year, but down roughly 15% and 3% over the last six months and past five days, respectively. Part of me wants to rush into SBUX today. After all, it's a long-term proposition with the type of management team I can get behind. As I'm fond of saying, Starbucks rolls like a tech company. It's ahead of most meaningful curves, particularly mobile. And CEO Howard Schultz continues to inspire confidence in recent media appearances. That said, I think I should hold back. I want to use my gauge of market irrationality/investor fear to my advantage. We're in a great rally right now. From point A to point B, we've seen nothing but upside. Consider the PowerShares QQQ ETF (QQQ).