October was a wild month for the stock market, and while the raging coronavirus pandemic no doubt had an impact, the presidential election was clearly a driver as well. In fact, in the coming weeks, we may see increased levels of stock market volatility, and as an investor, that can be difficult to deal with -- so here's how to cope.
1. Don't panic
Stock market volatility is completely normal. In fact, the market can be fickle even when there's not a major health crisis, recession, or political event at play. That's why it's important to remind yourself not to panic if stock values start plummeting in the coming weeks. That sort of thing, frankly, happens all the time, but you know what else tends to happen? The stock market recovers beautifully. Keep that in mind if you start seeing numbers you're not happy with in your portfolio.
2. Don't get lured into the sell-off mentality
Dumping your stocks when they're down is a good way to lose money in the market. Earlier this year, stock values took a nosedive when the coronavirus pandemic really erupted, but by the end of the summer, they'd recovered fully. Had you sold off investments back in March, when things went south, you'd have potentially lost a lot of money. That's why the one thing you shouldn't do if the market tanks post-election is sell in a hurry. Rather, sit back and wait things out.
3. Take advantage of discounted stocks
Stock market volatility is often presented as a bad thing, but actually, it can be a good thing. When stock values decline, investors like you can get in and buy up quality companies on the relative cheap. Rather than bemoan volatility, see it as an opportunity. Put together a list of stocks you're interested in and scoop them up when they're clearly discounted. And if you're not comfortable buying individual stocks, take the same approach with index funds, and load up on those instead.
You will get through this
Let's face it: It's been a rocky year without throwing a heated election into the mix, and a lot of us may be experiencing different emotions as both people and investors. That's why it's so important to take a step back if the stock market gets wild and avoid getting worked up over it.
Back in March, many investors feared their portfolios would be down for months on end, if not years, while older workers started making plans to postpone retirement for fear that their 401(k)s and IRAs would take years to recover. But in the end, all of that panic was largely unnecessary, so take a lesson from what happened earlier this year, when it seemed like the world was about to implode.
The coming weeks may be difficult, but the key is to remind yourself that patient stock investors tend to be rewarded in the long run, and so rather than fixate on your portfolio value in the coming weeks, spend that time indulging in a little self-care. Most of us could really use it.