Why should I invest in the market when I can buy and sell houses or cars?

By Ken Clark AAA
A:

This is a classic investor dilemma. When the markets are roaring, with 15-20% returns, it is tough to imagine putting your money elsewhere. In fact, when the markets churn out 15-20% returns, people actually tend to borrow money to invest in stocks.

Of course, when the markets are down by the same amount, especially over the course of a few years consecutively, it seems pretty easy to find more productive, useful, and fun places to invest that money. Even if you're not making huge profits buying and selling houses or cars, you at least feel like you're doing something productive. However, before you trade in your 401(k) for a Ferrari or a beach condo, try to employ the following three principles.

First, every long-term investor should focus on diversification as a core principle. If your portfolio has become top-heavy with just a few positions, you'll want to consider rebalancing toward not just other stocks or mutual funds, but also toward fixed income investments such as bonds and real estate.

Second, if at all possible, you should continue to invest funds regularly into retirement and college accounts. This process of dollar-cost averaging helps to ensure that your purchases that have temporarily declined in value are offset with new purchases at much lower prices.

Third, timing the market is nearly impossible. Over the last 80 years, equity markets have continued to provide an annualized return in the ballpark of 10%. Much of this return, however, is due to relatively short bursts of growth that happened before most cautious investors regained confidence to reenter the market. To have a fighting chance at earning double-digit returns in the stock market, you'll need to have your money invested properly before the market turns around.

(For more on this subject, read The Stock Market: A Look Back, Dollar-Cost Averaging Pays, Dollar-Cost Averaging DCA, Diversification, The Importance of Diversification, Market Timing Fails As A Money Maker)

This question was answered by Ken Clark.

RELATED FAQS

  1. What are the 403(b) contribution limits?

    Determine whether 403(b) contributions meet federal guidelines. Contribution limits to this retirement plan are determined ...
  2. What is the difference between a 408 (k) plan and a 401 (k) plan?

    Learn key differences between 401(k) and 408(k) plans. Employers provide different options to help employees save for retirement, ...
  3. What are the main differences between a Roth 401(k) and a 401(k)?

    Learn more about financial planning, investment options and decision making between traditional 401(k) and Roth 401(k) accounts, ...
  4. What are the Roth 401(k) withdrawal rules?

    Understand the requirements for tax-free withdrawal from a Roth 401(k) account, how early withdrawals are taxed and options ...
RELATED TERMS
  1. Bulldog Market

    A nickname for the foreign bond market of the United Kingdom. ...
  2. Fast-Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG)

    These are consumer goods products that sell quickly at relatively ...
  3. Float Shrink

    A reduction in the number of a publicly traded company’s shares ...
  4. Capital Strike

    A refusal of businesses to invest in a particular sector of the ...
  5. Market Value

    The price an asset would fetch in the marketplace. Market value ...
  6. MyRA

    A new tax-advantaged retirement account that President Barack ...
comments powered by Disqus
Related Articles
  1. When Your Job Offers An Awful Retirement ...
    Retirement

    When Your Job Offers An Awful Retirement ...

  2. 10 Common Retirement Planning Mistakes ...
    Retirement

    10 Common Retirement Planning Mistakes ...

  3. 6 Retirement Planning Tips For Late ...
    Retirement

    6 Retirement Planning Tips For Late ...

  4. Set It And Forget It Doesn’t Work For ...
    Investing Basics

    Set It And Forget It Doesn’t Work For ...

  5. An Introduction to Government Loans
    Economics

    An Introduction to Government Loans

Trading Center