Main page content

Nervous about the Market? Four Things to Do Now

Feeling nervous about the market these days?

You know that markets change, and you’ve likely been through up and down markets before. But something may feel differently this time around, and maybe you’re starting to wonder if there’s something you should be doing to protect yourself if the market sours.

Many investors assume that they have only two choices: stay fully invested or sell out of stocks entirely.

Advisors know that there are other ways to be cautious that don’t involve selling out of the market.

Here are a few practical ideas to get you started:

1. Dial down risk in your portfolio

Some stock funds are more volatile than others, so you could dial down risk by moving into less aggressive funds. If you’ve got a big stake in sector funds or more concentrated stock funds, you might move into more diversified core stock funds. If you currently own core stock funds, you could shift some of your money into balanced funds.

2. Make small changes rather than dramatic moves

Big moves all in and all out of the market can have long-lasting repercussions, so if you feel like you have to do something right now, try to do so in small, measured ways. For instance, if you’re concerned about being fully invested in stocks, consider selling a small part of your stock allocation. IRA investors who are over 70 1/2 could take their required minimum distribution now, rather than at the end of the year, as a way to take some money off the table.

Look for small steps that you can take that can give you a little peace of mind and are consistent with your long-term investment plans.

3. Rebalance your allocation to stocks and bonds

Stocks have done well this year so far, despite recent volatility, so it may be time to rebalance your allocation by selling some of your stock funds and reinvesting it in bond funds. This can help you keep risk in line and make sure you don’t inadvertently end up taking more risk than you’d intended.

For example, let’s say you started the year with a 60/40 portfolio mix (60% in stock funds and 40% in bond funds) and your stock funds have gained 20% and your bond funds have gained 5% since the start of the year. By now your allocation is about 63% stocks and 37% bonds. So selling 5% of your stock funds now would get you back to your original 60/40 target.

Don’t have a target allocation yet? This is the time to decide on one. The right allocation can help you stay on track through the ups and downs of the market.

4. Talk with your advisor

As advisors, our job is to help clients find an appropriate allocation and then keep them on track even in uncertain times. Nearly every market environment presents an opportunity to further their financial goals. We’ve used recent volatility as an opportunity to rebalance some of our clients back to their target allocations or to get clients more fully invested.

If you'd like to learn more about working with a FundX advisor, click here and let's set up a time to talk.

Here’s one extra tip: Make a plan to get back on track

If you decide to dial down the risk of your fund portfolio or reduce your exposure to stocks, make sure you’re also thinking about when and how you’ll get back to normal.

If you really need to be invested in stock funds to satisfy your long-term goals, but you’re in more conservative balanced funds right now, then consider when you’ll buy back into more fully invested stock funds. If you’re keeping some of your portfolio in cash, consider when and how you’ll put that cash to work. 

You might make a note in your calendar to remind you to consider getting back to your target allocation again in three or six months. The goal is to make sure you don’t inadvertently let your current fears turn into a long-term change to your target allocations.

This post originally appeared on Forbes.