I'm Opening a Brokerage Account in 2023. Here's Why Market Volatility Doesn't Scare Me

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  • I have a brand-new brokerage account and a little cash, just waiting for me to start investing.
  • I'm not worried about the current state of the market because I'm not planning to cash out my investments anytime soon.
  • I'm also intending to add money to the account every month and not torture myself by checking it too frequently.

It's not "goodbye, money," it's only "see you later."

A few days before writing this, I opened my first-ever brokerage account. I've never had investments of any kind -- ever. Not even a 401(k) through an employer. And now I've got this taxable brokerage account that I chose from The Ascent's list of the best online stock brokers for beginners. I arranged a transfer of $200 from my checking account, and now I get to pick some initial investments. To start with, I'm going to focus on exchange-traded funds (ETFs), because they're an easy entry point for ultra-beginners like me.

I may be an investing newbie, but I'm not checked out from the state of the stock market these days. (I am also immersed in money news on a daily basis, due to my job.) Ongoing discussion about a recession, continued inflation, and a few highly visible bank collapses have left many Americans feeling nervous about the economy, and it shows. The S&P 500 index is down more than 13.5% over the last year, and this is surely not an ideal time to be getting started as an investor. But I've already waited this long. Here's why market volatility doesn't scare me -- or at least, it doesn't scare me enough to keep me from investing.

I'm investing for the long term

Despite how scary things look right now, I've got time for my money to grow. The money I put into my brokerage account isn't earmarked for any specific purpose at this time, other than just "the future." I'm not thinking about retirement at this point, and likely won't be for at least 30 more years (giving my money time to benefit from compound interest). And it's my hope to work at least part-time in retirement, because I think I'd be terribly bored otherwise.

The numbers are on my side as far as long-term investing goes, too. The S&P 500 gained value in 40 out of the last 50 years, generating an average annual return of 9.4% for investors. Over 30 years' time, any peaks and valleys in individual years (or months, or weeks, or days) will cease to matter quite so much. If I buy and hold investments, I'm likely to come out on top.

I'm planning to look at my account just once per month

One big risk of investing in a volatile market is getting too hung up on those peaks and valleys, and it's easy to lose sight of the big picture if you check your brokerage account too often. So it's my intention to just check up on my account once a month. This is also when I'll be adding more money. That way, I can avoid the temptation to sell my investments at a loss. Remember, if the value of your stocks dip, you haven't actually lost any money unless you sell and lock in those losses.

I'm trying very hard not to feel as if I've missed the boat on investing, especially given the state of the market these days. But I'm excited to see what the future holds, and to be able to ramp up the amount of money I can invest after reaching my current shorter-term goal of buying a home. If the best time to get started with investing was yesterday, the second-best time is today.

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