Checking Your Brokerage Account Daily? Why You Need to Break the Habit
- It's important to check up on your investments once in a while.
- Checking up daily could drive you to make rash decisions you later regret.
It's not a good use of your time.
When I first opened my brokerage account years back, I got into the habit of checking my portfolio balance every day. In fact, it was part of my end-of-work routine. I'd make the next day's to-do list and do a quick brokerage account check-in before shutting down my computer for the night.
These days, I typically don't check my brokerage account more than once a month. And lately, I haven't even been checking in at all. That's because I know stocks are down right now in a really big way, and if I keep looking at my balance, I'm only going to get anxious and upset.
If you're in the habit of checking your brokerage account balance on a regular basis, you're probably doing yourself a disservice. And it's best to scale back to not only preserve your mental health, but to avoid a scenario where you make a rash decision you regret.
The dangers of checking in too frequently
Even if you've been investing for many years like I have, it can be very jarring and disheartening to see losses in your brokerage account. Now, I know that if I leave my portfolio alone right now and don't sell any stocks while they're down, I'll put myself in a position to potentially recover from this downturn without losing money.
But it's hard to maintain that logic when you're looking at lower numbers on the screen from one day to the next. And that's why checking your brokerage account daily really isn't a smart move -- especially during periods when stock values are down across the board.
If you see your account balance drop day after day after day, you might, at some point, make the decision to unload stocks at a loss to avoid further losses. But in doing so, you'll guarantee that your portfolio doesn't recover from the downturn at hand.
That's why checking your brokerage account balance once a month, or even once a quarter, may be a better bet. That way, you'll be less likely to get upset and make an emotional decision that winds up hurting you financially.
What about when stocks are doing well?
Clearly, it's not the best idea to check your brokerage account daily when stocks are slumping. But what about periods when the stock market is doing well?
At that point, if you really want to start checking your balance frequently, go for it. But it's probably not a great use of your time. This especially applies if you're saving for a far-off milestone like retirement.
Say your brokerage account balance is $54,100 one day, and $54,250 the next day. If you're not planning to touch that money for another 20 years, then fluctuations like that really don't matter. And while you probably won't be driven to make rash decisions if your portfolio is doing well, it's just plain not necessary to check in daily.
Of course, you don't want to go to the opposite extreme. It's important to do a quarterly check-up to make sure there aren't specific assets in your portfolio that are underperforming. But checking in daily really isn't necessary, and when stocks are down, it could be a dangerous thing.
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