So, I heard the markets crashed

Kind of? I'm kind of impressed with myself that I didn't notice; at least, not until some financial news trickled through through my fierce refusal to read financial news yesterday. Apparently it started crashing on Friday. Who knew? 

[Image description: Cherry tomatoes and vegetables displayed for sale. Because the only markets I'm interested in are farmer's markets. Photo by Anne Preble on Unsplash]

The news likes to make a big deal about every little thing. If you have most of your savings in invested retirement funds like I do, you might be feeling a twinge of panic. Now's a good time to keep the ol' anti-panic investment principles in back of mind. 

Remember, the money's not real until you sell
I got morbidly curious and checked my balance. It looked fine to me... but I'm apparently not super on top of things, because when I compared it to a week ago, it turned out I had lost $20,000. Whoops!

Losing $20,000 in a week sounds like a lot. And it is a lot of money when I compare it to things I could buy or do in real life. If my job said "We overpaid you and now you owe us $20,000," I would be extremely upset! But losing money in the stock market is really not the same thing. It's not "real" money. It's Retirement Bucks. That's monopoly money, at least until I retire and it becomes real. 

So I think it's probably a good thing that I don't keep super good track of my balance. It actually doesn't matter what the balance at any given time is. If you buy a stock at $1, and it goes up to $50, then crashes back down to $3, you can think of it two ways: you lost $47, or you made $2. It's an optimist-pessimist thing, I guess, but I personally think the optimistic way is more pragmatic. If you hadn't known about the "rise," you'd feel fine! 

Ignore the noise
There is a lot of noise in the stock market. It will always dip and soar and dip and soar and plateau a little and dip a little and spike and dip and whatever. Life's too short and too long to pay it any mind. In the long game, it tends to trend up, and as retirement-minded investors, we only care about the long game. 

I avoid financial news because I don't want to be alarmed by short-term noise and I don't want to be tempted to make decisions about it. 

The only decision to possibly make in a down time is:

Buy, stocks are on sale!
Warren Buffett says to be fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others are fearful, which to me means that when some bowtie wearer on TV tells you the Dow is plummeting, it's time to rub your hands together and toss some cash into the market.

I feel like this isn't really "timing the market" since the thing already happened. I guess you're predicting that it won't go down much further. I definitely wouldn't try to pinpoint the exact bottom of the market (you can't) but if you happen to have some money you were vaguely planning to invest but too lazy to get around to it, now's as good a time as any. 

Then go for a walk. Money is a social construct, trees are real! 


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