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How To Worry Less About Your Investments

I don’t suppose worrying is ever a good idea.  If there’s something in your life that you are concerned about, and you have the ability to change it, then you can (and should) do so.  If you have no control over it, worrying about it won’t improve anything and might even negatively impact your health.  Nowhere is this more relevant than with your invested savings.  Many of the people who come to me for advice start by telling me how worried they are about their investments.  If you’re one of those people, I may have a simple solution to help you alleviate all that stress.

Let’s start with a simple question:  how frequently do you review your investment performance?

If you are a news junkie and strive to catch that stock market report every day, Bob Seawright of Madison Avenue Securities in San Diego calculated that the S&P 500 increased only 53% of the time on a daily basis over the last 20 years.  That means that you would have been disappointed with your stock investments on average practically every other day.  If you’re not a worrier that could certainly turn you into one.

Maybe the answer is not to look at the market quite so frequently.  What if you only checked on your stocks once a week, say every Friday?  The website Seeking Alpha analyzed returns from 1962 through 2017 and found that the S&P 500 increased on average 56% on a weekly basis.  That’s certainly some improvement over 53%.

Perhaps keeping away from the financial media for a whole month might help.  Yardeni Research determined that, going back to 1928, the number of months in which the S&P 500 had ended positive grew to 59%.

You get the idea.  What about looking only at annual results?  Again since 1928, the S&P 500 has had positive annual returns more than 67% of the time.  That should not come as a surprise considering that the stock market over the long run has outpaced the growth in our country’s GDP.  The reason we invest in the first place is to participate in the growing valuations of companies contributing to a robust capitalistic economy.

To those of you who demand scientific rigor I admit that the comparisons above span different time periods, and confess that I just didn’t have the resources to recalculate them on a more standardized basis.  Nonetheless, this data still suggests that if we simply choose to look at our investment performance less frequently, we are likely to observe positive returns more often.  And those returns would be more consistent with our investment horizons and the goals for which we have been saving in the first place.

So why not try giving up worrying about your investments?  There are plenty of other things in our society worth stressing over.  Don’t worry about not having anything to worry about!



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