Tuesday, Nov. 25, 2008

Don't Panic

The end of the world only comes once. I'm pretty certain this isn't it. That means that stocks and bonds and real estate and jobs and business activity will all bounce back eventually. Selling assets now might prove to be an even worse decision than buying bank stocks at the height of mortgage mania a couple years ago. Reassess how much risk you are comfortable with, recognizing that stocks go down 10% often, 20% with some regularity and more than 30% occasionally. Yet they have always gone higher in the long run. If you just can't take the near-term gyrations you have too much in the market and should settle on an asset allocation you can live with — 60% stocks, 30% bonds, 10% cash is fairly conservative. To avoid making any big mistakes, rebalance your portfolio every six months — selling what has risen and buying what has fallen to keep your bonds and cash and stock exposure at your target allocation. With prices depressed, this is a good time to start a dollar-cost-averaging strategy — investing a set amount of money into a predetermined stock fund every month or every quarter.

See pictures of the Top 10 scared stock traders.