The daily stream of events and the accompanying wave of pundit opinion can take its toll on weary investors and leave them in a state of angst about the markets and their investments. Planning is a powerful tool to help investors to refocus on their long-term goals and stay on track. The chart below highlights the benefits of planning taken from a study on retirement planning among Americans over age 50 in a wide range of market conditions.
Last year’s market roller coaster ended with a rapid and dramatic surge upward followed by amplified short-term volatility. Understandably, these conditions have left investors wondering what to do now and many are tempted to take profits, pull out of the market, or wait on the sidelines.
After the year we have had its easy to understand how investors may have become fatigued and disoriented. Taking a step back and looking at things over a longer time period can help to regain a sense of balance and perspective. The ability to look past today’s headlines is key to long-term investing. Over the ten-year period of 2010 – 2019, the market generated an impressive annualized return of 13.6%, but you would not have known it from the headlines.
Investors spend a lot of time and energy talking about the next big market crash or how to avoid large losses. The opposite side of that coin is what to do when faced with large, unexpected investment gains. It’s natural to want to spend at least some of this “free money,” but before you rush out and buy something, take a few minutes to think about the advantages of not doing that.
Many investors wait until they have “enough” money or for when it’s “a good time” to invest in the market. Making regular contributions regardless of these concerns is one of the most powerful ways to build wealth. The table below highlights the value of making regular contributions compared to periodic contributions over 10-, 20- and 30-year periods. Even though the same principal amount is invested, the result is dramatically different with nearly twice the wealth creation.
Investors often fret about the market environment and ask if they should invest now or hold off for a better time. For long-term investors, making regular contributions is more important than when the contributions are made each year. The table below shows there is not much gained by perfectly timing contributions each year.