Buy, Sell or Hold Those Stocks?

What should I do? My investments are down and I don't know what to do? Should I be buying now, selling or waiting the market out? What are the successful investors doing? Here's a few ideas that could fatten your portfolio and give you a greater level of confidence.

1. Stop looking daily at the stock tables and mutual fund quotes. Take the long-term approach and don't worry about the day-to-day activities of your funds. A buy and hold investor doesn't worry about the short- term fluctuations of the market. They ignore the daily market reports and news headlines.

2. Think about when you will need your investment funds. If you've got a long time before you need the money, you'll be able to sit tight through a long bear market.

3. Remember to look at the statistics and past history of the stock market. Over the past 75 years the worst 30-year stretch for stocks was the 3 decades through August 1959. According to Chicago's Ibbotson Associates, stocks climbed 7.8% a year, enough to turn $10,000 into $95,000.

4. Consider increasing the amount you invest. At today's depressed stock prices you can get more shares for your money. Think of it as a sale on stocks.

5. The future is uncertain and no one know which sectors might lead the way next. To ensure that you get a piece of the action, diversify. Diversifying also cushions the effect of downturns that affect just one market segment.

6. If you've been thinking about converting your individual retiremen account to a ROTH IRA, now might be a good time to convert, as taxes should be smaller because of the market decline. What's the advantage of converting to a ROTH IRA? Once retired, all the money withdrawn from the ROTH will be tax-free.

7. Spend some time assessing your investment portfolio. What is your risk tolerance? Are you willing to exchange higher returns for greater fluctuations? If you do decide to sell off part of your holdings because it is no longer appropriate for you, do so because you have a good reason, not because the market is down.

Timing the market and chasing after hot stocks seldom works. Most people end up buying high and selling low with this thought process. Once again, think long-term and your successes will be greater.

Remember, many people may be selling now, but for every share sold, someone is buying. So who's smarter, the ones buying or the ones selling?

You decide! Start investing at right now!

By Doris Dobkins, Money Saving Expert
Author of "Financial Freedom A-Z Home Study Course"

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