Financial Planning | Personal Financial Planning

Two words on the stock market: Don’t panic

Be honest — you didn’t really expect the market would just climb forever, did you?

Monday’s stunning sell-off — the Dow plunged 1,175 points, its largest single-day point drop ever — was a bucket of cold water to the faces of investors everywhere. Lulled into dreams of a comfy retirement by a seemingly unending bull market, they’ve been rudely jolted back to reality.

Reality, though, can be summed up in two words: Don’t panic.

"Take a deep breath," Andres Garcia-Amaya, CEO of wealth management firm Zoe Financial, told CNNMoney. "I know it's been a while since we had a day like today, but nothing has really changed from a fundamental standpoint."

And what are those fundamentals? Start with these, courtesy of USA Today's markets reporters:

  • You're in this for the long haul.
  • Given the generally good direction of our economy, this might be just a blip on the radar.
  • Think of the opportunities. Stocks are lower? It might be a great time to buy.
  • Stick with your plan. Invest ... and avoid looking at the day-to-day returns. Think long-term.

Honestly, the market couldn't sustain the kind of growth it has seen over the past year.

"Market pullbacks are normal," financial planner Kimberly Foss writes. "I know (your clients) may feel terrible but, in reality, a 3- to 5-percent drop is healthy in a typical bull market. This sell-off may be more a reversion to the mean, rather than a precursor of a more severe adjustment or a bear market."

In other words, stop watching the news. Your future won't be determined by what happens today.


Bill Sheridan