Thursday, July 10, 2008

Intestinal fortitude: living with a bear market

Jeremy at Generation X Finance has started a mini-series of posts detailing his first-hand experience with investors' reactions to current market conditions (Jeremy's a retirement planning specialist). His first post is on investors fleeing stocks in favour of bonds. He points out the well-worn truth of how much this can hurt your portfolio's long-term performance.

There's no denying how painful it is to watch your investment returns seemingly evaporate as the market takes a dive. It's understandable to want to do something to "stop the bleeding." However, the strategy of dumping your stocks and moving into bonds to ride out the slump is exactly the opposite of "buy low, sell high." Meg at The World Of Wealth illustrated this in a post about her grandparents selling some bonds to help her finance the closing on her new investment property without cashing out her investments at the bottom of the market.

It's still early days, but so far I seem to be able to follow this advice of staying the course. I'm anxious about what the next several months have in store for my investments, but I'm fortunate enough to have decades to recoup any "losses" during this and other down periods. As much as I hate to see my balances drop, the thought of cashing out and moving into "safe" investments at this point makes me physically ill. So I'll be hanging on by my fingertips, and doing my best to enjoy the ride.

On a lighter note, The Consumerist posted this advice today on surviving a bear market:
Investopedia says the best thing to do when you see a bear in the market is the same as when you see one in the woods: "Tuck in your arms and play dead!" In other words, don't go crazy selling stocks at a loss. In both cases, fighting back can leave you bleeding, although toughing it out won't be a pleasant experience either. And if you have money leftover after filling up your car, it's actually a buying opportunity. Which I guess is like playing dead in front of the momma bear while your buddy gathers up all the cubs while mamma is occupied and then later you and your buddy train them to harvest honeycombs for you.
I couldn't have said it better myself.

No comments: