To say the stock market has been volatile in recent weeks would be a bit of an understatement. As you watch stock prices rise and fall dramatically over the course of a week while the coronavirus crisis unfolds, it's hard to know exactly what to do with your money.
After careful consideration, though, I've decided on two tactics I plan to stick with during the crisis. And depending on your situation, the approach I've chosen could possibly work for you as well.
1. I'm staying the course with my current investments
My investment accounts have lost quite a bit of money in recent weeks. In fact, one account primarily invested in index funds erased basically all of the gains over the past several years, and I'm now slightly down on an account I was up over 10% on at the end of February.
While it's hard to watch my balance fall without being tempted to take all the money out so I don't suffer any further losses, I'm making no changes at all to my current investments.
That's because I'm invested in a diverse mix of different assets and I have an appropriate amount of stock exposure relative to my age and retirement goals. I was confident in my investment strategy before the crisis started, and I know I'm still doing the right things to earn around a 7% to 8% average annual return over time.
There's no reason for me to sell stocks during an emotional time or to make changes to a well-balanced portfolio just because I'm nervous about the economy in the short term.
2. I'm investing more on a steady schedule
Not only am I not selling any of my investments, but I'm also increasing the amount of money I'm putting into the stock market. And I'm doing this by buying more of each of my index funds every two weeks.
I normally make regular contributions and purchase a little more of each index fund I'm currently invested in every time I do that. I've simply increased those contributions and am continuing to up my stake on a fixed schedule.
I'm doing this because I know it's really difficult to figure out what days the market will move up and what days it will decline. And it's impossible to try to time when stocks will hit bottom.
I personally think the market is likely to keep going down for a while because the economic fallout of social distancing will be far-reaching. But since I don't have a crystal ball, I don't know when the recovery will start. I'm also not worried about it because, with my steady schedule of investing, chances are good I'll get a great deal on at least some of my investments.
And yes, I'll pay more if I buy on an up day, but I'm a long-term investor putting money into the market that I won't need for more than a decade. Over time, it won't much matter if I paid slightly more than I could have for some of my shares. I'm confident my account balance will grow as expected based on historical trends. And by buying now during an unprecedented crisis when stocks are on sale, I may even beat my projections on some of those investments.
Are these the right money moves for you, too?
Staying the course and increasing my investing are the right choices for me because I'm confident in my strategy and I already have accessible emergency savings for the short term.
If you're in a similar situation, you may also decide to keep your current investments as they are and to add more money to the market on a regular basis. This strategy is likely to pay off, if it's one you're in a financial position to pull off.