Last Updated on February 25, 2020 by Dave Farquhar
The Googles have spoken, and people don’t come here for financial advice, but I’ll say this anyway. The markets have been going bonkers for the last week, but don’t panic. Don’t go dumping your stocks and bonds. Seriously.
Just look at what happened in 2008.
In 2008, the market took a dive. Lots of people panicked and got out of the market. My coworkers talked about dropping their 401(k) contributions. I did something else. I bought just as much stock as I could. To the point of eating Ramen noodles a couple of times a week so I could afford to buy stock. Seriously. And I told my coworkers to do the same. Why? Wall Street is having a sale. When gas dropped 30 cents this weekend, did we sell the gas we had in our gas tanks? No! People lined up around the block, waiting to get into the gas station to buy as much of it as they could.
So what happened to that stock?
The stock I bought in 2008 was worth 30-40% more in 2010 than it was when I bought it. It may not be worth that now, but that’s OK. It’ll come back. And now I have a chance to do the same thing again. And in a year or two, that stock will be worth more. Maybe 30-40 percent. Maybe 20. Maybe 50. The exact amounts won’t matter, because I won’t be selling for another 20 or 30 years.
When the market takes a long dive, it’s not all bad news. For those who have the money to do it–and I do realize that isn’t everyone–it’s a big opportunity. Don’t bother trying to pick the winners and losers. Just buy a bunch of no-load index funds that track the S&P 500 and the Wilshire 4500 or 5000, balance it with a high-grade bond fund, and hang on for the ride. What we’re seeing right now is insanity. Pundits on Sunday morning TV describe falls in the market as corrections, but corrections can go up too.
So if you’re calling your broker, make sure you’re calling to buy, not to sell. I don’t know when everything’s going to be better again, but it’ll happen some day. That’s when it’s time to sell. Not now. Buy and wait for the correction. And when your statements arrive, just file them without opening them.