It's the year of a pandemic, protests, and murder hornets. Like it or not, we still have another five months to go before we can put 2020 behind us, so whether you're new to investing or have been at it for decades, here are a few tips to get you through the rest of the year.
1. Prepare for turbulence
Back in March, the stock market crashed as COVID-19 suddenly became a domestic and global threat. While the market has recovered nicely since then, don't assume another crash isn't coming.
If the COVID-19 outbreak worsens (July was already a bad month in that regard), we may see another widespread lockdown that could, in turn, impact stocks. Let's also not forget that this is an election year, which could also cause the stock market to tumble. Prepare for the volatility that may lie ahead so you don't panic and start unloading investments if they start to lose value.
2. Have plenty of cash earmarked for emergencies
During a recession, an emergency fund is an absolute necessity. That way, if you lose your job, you'll have cash on hand to tide yourself over. But that's not the only reason you need emergency savings.
Without money in the bank, you may have no choice but to tap your investment account when the need for cash arises, and that could force you to take serious losses you otherwise would've avoided. If you're still working now and are short on near-term cash reserves, start putting money in the bank -- before your personal financial situation gets worse.
3. Keep funding your retirement plan
The money you invest in your retirement plan has the potential to grow in a tax-advantaged fashion for a very long time. If your income has held steady, but you're now spending less money than ever considering that travel is tricky and entertainment is largely being confined to your home, you have a prime opportunity to grow wealth by investing not just in a brokerage account, but in an IRA or 401(k), as well.
With the former, you can contribute up to $6,000 this year if you're under 50 or $7,000 if you're 50 or older. With the latter, these limits are far more generous: $19,500 and $26,000, respectively.
4. Have a diverse mix of investments
Back in March, the stock market got hammered on the whole, and even some so-called recession-proof industries took a beating. But given the volatility that may lie ahead, it's important to have a diversified portfolio so that if a particular market segment is hard-hit in the coming months, your loss potential will be minimized. Since stocks are in a pretty strong place right now, take the opportunity to assess your portfolio and make changes that may be necessary -- before the market crashes again.
It's fair to say that 2020 has been a year like no other -- and it's not even over. But remember, when it comes to investing, a long-term approach is best, so rather than fixate on what happens to your portfolio over the next few months, remind yourself that this year, too, shall pass. And if you prepare accordingly, there's a good chance you'll make it through the next five months unscathed.