Market gyrations making you jittery?
Well, then turn off
and watch the Disney channel with your kids. Now is not the time to watch that streaming stock ticker of red numbers. You might end up doing something stupid.
Let's face it. The market is about as stagnant as my 2-year-old cousin Luke. "We warn clients that the market's going to crash at least two or three times during their lifetimes," says Bill Fleming, director of personal financial services for
in Hartford, Conn. So as a long-term investor, you should be somewhat prepared for a few nosedives. If you're like me, and were a junior in high school during Black Monday in October 1987, getting used to these kind of swoons and bearish market days is tough, but necessary.
So what do you do now?
Not a whole lot. In this Internet era, where you can just click and sell your entire portfolio in seconds, it is even more important that you do not let your emotions cloud your judgment. Don't panic and sell everything -- unless you think it's Armageddon and Dow 2000 is right around the corner. (And in that case, I'm writing the wrong story.)
Today's swoon -- and the midday recovery, if it holds -- teaches an invaluable lesson. Don't get too rash in panic moments. If you would've sold at the height of the madness this morning, you would have lost a pretty penny. The
Dow Jones Industrial Average has already recovered much of its 400-plus-point decline, and the
Nasdaq Composite Index went from being down more than 100 points to being modestly higher.
Instead, let your stomach be your guide.
If you're sleeping like a baby at night, then your asset allocation is probably OK. And if you're a firm believer in some of your holdings, take this opportunity to go out there and buy more. Consider this the year-end sale at
If your stomach is in knots and you can't get the Rolaids fast enough, then your portfolio's asset allocation -- meaning how much you apportion to various kinds of stocks and other securities -- may be too risky.
Consider this recent market mayhem your wake-up call. Maybe you moved too much money into technology stocks or you dumped a big chunk on Uncle Tony's hot tip. Well, learn a lesson from it. Now more than ever, it is vitally important that you have an investment plan and stick to it.
If your asset allocation is off or makes you uncomfortable, you eventually will need to rebalance it -- but now is
the time to do it. You are too emotional now and the market is too precarious.
But if you are holding a few losers that you no longer have faith in, now may be a great time to dump them and generate some losses for your tax return.
Remember, over time, you will win buy having your money in the stock market. The S&P 500 is up 344% over the past 10 years. You may not get that kind of run twice in a lifetime, but history has shown that you will be just fine.
So try to block out the noise today -- or any other day the market decides to get a little funky. If you've made well-thought-out decisions then you can trust yourself. Just turn on
and relax. Your kids -- and your ulcer -- will thank you for it.
So send your questions or comments on to
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TSC Investor Forum aims to provide general investment information. It cannot and does not attempt to provide individual advice. All readers are urged to consult with a professional as needed about their individual circumstances.