Each year my husband’s family comes together from Texas, Ohio, New Jersey, Georgia and Florida over the July 4th holiday to reconnect with one another. Everyone from my 80 year-old in-laws to our 8 year old nephew spent time together at the beach over the past week, and my mother-in-law treated us to a 4th of July cook-out where we all ate too much and played games in the backyard afterwards.
This year, hurricane Arthur threatened to delay flights and cancel our plans. My husband, who has always been an avid weather watcher, bounced between the Weather Channel, the local news, and the MyRadar app trying to determine how real the threat was. Meanwhile outside, the sun was shining and the beach beckoned, but the temptation to gather more data to determine exactly what might happen next was too great.
Lately, the US stock market’s rise has created a similar sense of impending doom for some people. It’s tempting to look back at the Dow Jones Industrial Average low of 6,547 on March 9, 2009, compare it to its current value, hovering close to 17,000, and predict that we are due for a storm, especially after the Great Recession we experienced in the not-so-distant past.
Fortunately for us, we decided not to alter our plans for the reunion and the storm headed further north before gaining strength. Flights arrived and our time at the beach together was uninterrupted. Ironically, the really bad weather occurred later in the week on a day when nothing was predicted. A pop up thunderstorm sent folks scrambling in from the beach, and we watched umbrellas and beach chairs tumble down the shoreline into the ocean while the rain came down in sheets.
Life and investing are sometimes like that.
We spend our time worrying and watching for something we ‘know’ is going to happen, instead of enjoying the present, and then are later surprised by something entirely different we didn’t anticipate.
Market corrections will occur many times over our lifetime. They’ll be triggered by economic events we think we should have anticipated, and those like 9/11 that were never even in the realm of possibility in our minds before they happened.
But if we spend our time trying to anticipate them, and alter our portfolios to avoid possible losses, we miss important opportunities to capture positive returns the market gives us when we stay invested.
It’s better to hold a diversified portfolio that fits our personal financial plan and rebalance according to a discipline, than have our returns held down by the weight of worry.