3 Reasons Not to Check Your Brokerage Account Too Often

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KEY POINTS

  • A brokerage account isn't something you should set and forget.
  • At the same time, there is such a thing as checking your account too frequently.


It's really important to strike the right balance.

Some people like to check their brokerage account balances once a week. For others, once a month or even once a quarter suffices.

When it comes to keeping track of your brokerage account, there's really no right or wrong answer when it comes to the frequency at which you check in. And to be clear, checking in on occasion is a good thing. You don't want to assemble a mix of stocks and then walk away without checking to see how your portfolio is doing.

But there's definitely such a thing as checking your brokerage account too often. And if you're popping in daily, you're definitely going overboard.

Even a weekly check-in is a bit much for the typical investor. A better balance is a once-a-month check-up, or even once a quarter. Here's why you don't want to be checking too often.

1. You may be driven to make rash choices

During periods of stock market volatility, brokerage account balances can drop dramatically from one day to another. If you check your balance frequently and keep seeing losses, that might drive you to quickly unload stocks to avoid an added financial hit. But that could create a scenario where you've locked in a loss.

When you see a lower brokerage account balance on screen than what you started out with, that loss is merely hypothetical. It represents the amount of money your portfolio would be worth if you were to sell everything you own on the spot.

If you don't sell off any assets and instead wait for your portfolio value to recover, you might emerge from a period of volatility without losing so much as a dime. But the more you check in and see losses, the more you might be driven to sell out of panic, thereby worsening your financial situation.

2. You'll stress yourself out needlessly

You may know enough about investing to recognize that you shouldn't sell stocks just because they're down. But even if you tell yourself to sit tight and ride things out, checking your brokerage account balance often could result in extra stress you just don't need. And there's really no reason to put yourself through that.

3. If you're investing for the long haul, you're just wasting your time

Many people set up brokerage account portfolios with the goal of accessing that money 10, 20, or 30 years down the line. If you, too, are taking a long-term approach to investing, then there's absolutely no need to check your account balance daily or weekly.

After all, market movement over the course of 24 hours or 48 hours is unlikely to make a big difference in the grand scheme of a 20-year investing window. And if you keep checking, you might just keep wasting your own time.

Investing in a brokerage account is a great way to put your money to work when you aren't using it and don't need it for emergencies. But don't make the mistake of checking your portfolio too often, because it could lead to poor choices and a needless amount of heartache and wasted hours.

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