Feeling nervous about the market these days?
You know that volatility is normal, 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 market turmoil continues.
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 fund 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. If you need to take a required minimum distribution (RMD) from your IRA, you could do so 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 given back gains recently, while bonds are still up for the year, so this may be time to rebalance your allocation by selling some of your bond funds and reinvesting it in stock funds. Regular rebalancing can help you keep risk in line.
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 risk level, 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 some clients more fully invested.
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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.