When the stock market has a great day, it's supposed to be good news. That's what happened on Mar. 1, when markets like the S&P 500 posted some of their best point gains in history. But let's face it: Sometimes, it leaves you feeling like you've missed out on the chance to score a bargain.
Fear not, though: Whether the stock market is up or down, the opportunities are limitless. Here's what to do whenever the stock market skyrockets.
1. Buy anyway if your conviction is strong
There's nothing wrong with waiting for a dip to buy stocks on the cheap. But if you have a strong conviction about a stock's potential, go ahead and invest anyway.
Let's go back a decade and imagine you invested $10,000 in Amazon (AMZN 1.62%) in 2011. Had you bought the stock at its low for the year on March 17, 2011, for $160.97 a share, you'd have $192,000 today. If you'd invested $10,000 at the year's peak price of $246.71 on Oct. 14, 2011, you'd still have more than $125,000.
Of course you'd buy for the low price if you could. But the point is that even when shares had risen 53% in less than seven months, there was still amazing opportunity. If you're truly passionate about a stock's prospects, invest in it even if the market is up. You can work the stock into your dollar-cost averaging budget so you can buy some shares while they're down as well.
2. Copy Warren Buffett's strategy
When you own a stock that's already soared, it can become too highly concentrated in your portfolio. That's risky whether you're an everyday investor or a billionaire like Warren Buffett. Instead of cashing out, copy Buffett's strategy for dealing with winners: Keep the value of your investment the same, but use the appreciation to fund new stock ideas.
Throughout 2020, Buffett modestly cut Berkshire Hathaway's (BRK.A -1.17%) (BRK.B -1.07%) share in Apple (AAPL -1.82%). He used the freed-up cash to diversify with stocks like AbbVie (ABBV -0.73%) and Verizon Communications (VZ 0.04%).
3. Selectively take profits
On the flip side, sometimes you buy and realize you don't want to hold forever. If that's the case, it might be time to sell some stocks while they're up. This especially applies if you need to cash out some of your holdings because you expect you'll need the money in the next couple of years.
4. Avoid taking short positions
Perhaps certain stocks just popped, but you expect they'll nosedive soon. While it may be tempting to short a stock that you think is a loser, the recent GameStop short squeeze shows just how risky doing so can be. Unless you're an extremely experienced investor who understands the virtually unlimited potential for losses, short positions are best avoided.
5. Buy call options if you're afraid of missing out on gains
If you aren't quite ready to buy certain stocks but you think the market will continue to skyrocket, buying call options can help you lock in a low price. Buying calls gives you the right (but not the obligation) to buy shares at a certain price within a specified timeframe. Note that buying and selling options is complex and is something you should only do if you're a knowledgeable investor.
6. Review your other goals
A soaring stock market can distract you from your other goals, but investing returns are just one piece of your larger financial picture. So take a step back and look at how you're doing on your other goals, whether they include paying off debt or saving for a down payment on a home. Don't let one good day of the stock market alter your priorities.