What an incredible year we've just experienced. From a historic election to Wall Street, there has been no shortage of headliners. Words like crisis, volatility, meltdown, collapse, recession, and even depression have all been tossed around like confetti at a parade. Sometimes these descriptors have had proper context surrounding them, yet most of the time they are simply headliners intended to grab our attention. The media knows that these fear based descriptors are very effective to grab our attention, but are they really helpful to you or me? Think about how you feel when hearing these words? Other words like anxious, nervous, stressful, and worried come to mind, and these feelings can sometimes motivate us to make poor decisions when it comes to our finances or investments.
This emotionally led outcome can have adverse consequences and is a lesson that many an investor has experienced or has heard about before. Hence, a strategy to avoid this outcome has evolved over time, and has been coined, 'stay the course'. Whether or not this strategy is right for you, it does not mean doing nothing. Neither does it mean to pretend nothing has changed or simply ignoring changing circumstances. If we apply the phrase to driving cross country, and our trip encounters mechanical trouble, a detour, or a closed bridge, we make adjustments and get back on course. The alternatives are to give up on the destination or try a short-cut to make up for the detour. Yet, doing nothing or ignoring the detour sign is not much of an option.
Financially speaking, staying the course means re-connecting with your original objectives, and making needed adjustments. Re-balancing your investments to your original allocation is the most basic. This should be done annually no matter what kind of market environment. Next, examine your spending, and ability to save more. One potential silver lining of this market change is the new found priority for our society to save more and spend less. Let this environment help you re-prioritize your goals and objectives, and see if saving a bit more now versus later can help you stay the course.