A recent survey shows that 44% of people plan to never invest money in the stock market again.
“Prudential, which polled more than 1,000 investors between the ages of 35 and 70 online earlier this year, found that 58% of those surveyed have lost faith in the stock market. Even more alarming, 44% said they plan to never invest in stocks. Ever.”
Think about that for a minute.
That decision is not the well-reasoned response of someone who has carefully evaluated the risk and reward ratio of investing.
It is an emotional response born out of fear (“I don’t want to lose my money!!!”) and ignorance (“this stock market is a crock!”).
Here are a few notes to consider:
- Perhaps the worst financial move you could make would be to withdraw from the stock market. These are some of the same people who will complain about money their entire lives, never stopping to realize that their own behavior — decades prior — caused their financial situation
- If you’re truly risk-averse, you have other options to mitigate risk, such as investing in lower-risk investments or changing your contribution rates. However, this assumes you are rational and will “understand” the options. The truth, of course, is that discontinuing investments is anything but rational.
- I don’t only blame these people, by the way. Although we are responsible for our own actions, the financial education in this country has failed us.
- Ironically, as the Wall Street Journal notes, “It looks as though many of the retail investors now getting back into stocks are the same people who bailed from the market just before the start of a historic bull run.” What’s the takeaway? You will never be able to time the market accurately over the long term. This is where some crackpot commenter will say, “DUH RAMIT, I SAW THE HOUSING CRASH COMING A MILE AWAY AND PUT ALL MY MONEY IN RED BRICKS!! NOW IT’S SAFE!! HA HA AHAAHAHA.” You may get lucky with timing once. But eventually, you will lose
- If you’re in your 20’s and 30’s, your time horizon allows you to withstand temporary downturns and still come out ahead by retirement age
- The idea that “I don’t want to lose my money” ignores the fact that by not investing, you will also lose money — it will just be an invisible loss that will only be realized decades later
- Older people who lost everything in the stock market should never have been in that position — their asset allocation failed them
- The investment strategy for the vast majority of individual investors should be passive, buy-and-hold investing. There’s no need to obsessively monitor investments or day-trade. I check my investments every 6-12 months as I have better things to do than micro-monitor these numbers.
- Target-date funds make sure your asset allocation is always age-appropriate with little/no effort from you. It is one of the finest automation strategies in life.
If you’re curious how to set up an automatic investing plan — including which investing accounts I use and how I chose my asset allocation — pick up a copy of my book. Here’s the print version and Kindle version.
Results from the book:
“Thanks for the advice. Have been able to build 25k in a roth, 7k in a 401k, automate all my finances and live a bliss life thanks to your book.”
“Since I bought your book, I’ve cleared five thousand in credit card debt and twenty thousand in student loans. I’m maxing out my roth and my 401k, have a savings plan and negotiated my way into six figures.”
“After buying your book, my personal finances have changed completely…all of my credit cards (which I pay off in full each month) are completely automated. I also rolled both 401ks into a Vanguard IRA. Yesterday, I was able to put enough money into the IRA to max it out for the year 2010…something I didn’t think I’d be able to do for a few years. I’m setting up an autopayment plan to put my 2011 IRA payments on cruise control.”