Knowing that financial markets are constantly changing, it’s often hard to gauge when the best time would be to jump in. Trying to time your investments in this way can cause you undue stress and cost you financially when you try to invest by guessing when the market has hit the “top” or the “bottom.” Fortunately, however, there are several timeless strategies that can help you eliminate the emotional component, and get you on the right track to successful investing.
Think long term. While past performance is never a guarantee of future results, the markets have historically performed well over the long run. Investors who have developed the discipline and patience to stay the course over the long run, despite market fluctuations, have generally experienced more favorable results.
Patiently accept volatility. Building on the last point, it’s important to realize that market highs and lows are a natural occurrence, and should be considered a normal part of investing. Once you accept that fact, you can prepare yourself to resist the emotional urges to jumping in and out of the market based solely on its current direction.
Stay in the market. Some investors attempt to time the market. When it’s down, they sit on the sidelines waiting for it to rally before they get in on the action. Conversely, when the market is up, they wait for a correction so they can buy at what they see as bargain rates. Moving in and out of the market by timing its ups and downs is a skill not even the most seasoned investment professionals have mastered. Consistent investment – in both up and down markets – should produce more reliable results over time.
Diversify. Possibly one of the most important investment principles – and at the same time most overlooked – is the need for careful asset allocation. The popular adage that tells you not to keep all your eggs in one basket is especially true when it comes to your investments. A well-diversified portfolio should include complementary asset classes, so they can cushion each other against the effects of market downturns and lower your portfolio’s overall risk.
Watch your asset allocation. Even if you properly diversify your portfolio in the beginning, changing markets will affect the value of your investments and could alter your actual allocation. Consistent reviews will help you identify when your portfolio needs to be rebalanced, helping you maintain a proper asset mix. Bear in mind that asset allocation does not protect against fluctuating prices and uncertain returns.
Pay yourself first. You may have heard this before, but it’s certainly worth repeating: Save first and then spend what you have left, rather than spending first and saving what you have left. Inevitably, if you attempt to do the latter, you’ll often find there’s nothing left to save.
Reinvest dividends. Many quality companies have a history of paying dividends, regardless of overall stock market performance. Reinvesting these dividends offers you an excellent way to easily build your stock positions.
Set goals. While this may seem like the most basic idea, it’s still one of the most important. When considering your investments, you need to have a clear idea of where you are, a goal in mind of where you want to go, and then put strategies in place to help you get there. By incorporating all of the abovementioned ideas, you will have a guide to help you in all our important investment decisions.
This article was written by Wells Fargo Advisors and provided courtesy of Todd Alexander, The Alexander Financial Group, in McConnellsburg.
Investment products and services are offered through Wells Fargo Advisors Financial Network LLC (WFAFFN), and Member SIPC. The Alexander Financial Group is a separate entity from WFAFFN.