This may take a little longer

A few of us were looking forward to seeing the stock markets recover during the last quarter of 2020, which started only 12 days ago. But as we are moving into the 38th week of this year, there is little reason to believe that the markets will start to rise again any soon.

Many businesses have been scaled down, people furloughed, budgets cut, investments deferred, assets repurposed. A vaccine for the virus seems still far off, but even if we would get it tomorrow, it will take more than a few months to get to where things were before. How long? Nobody knows.

Be greedy when others are fearful

Following the advice of Warren Buffett, investors should get greedy when others are fearful. The meaning behind this is of course that when stock prices are in free fall, it usually is a good time to be looking out for good bargains. But is the market now really already fearful? Is it a good time to be looking out for bargains?

The truth is that nobody really knows. Some shares may fall again. Others may rise. Some may be easier to analyze than others. But the universal rule remains valid in good and in bad times: There is no such thing as a bad time to invest in good companies.

My approach during this time remains the same as previously. I keep investing. I am buying companies that I believe to have a solid business, that will survive the current and future challenges, that continue paying dividends, and which I believe to continue doing all this for years to come.

While looking for the right companies at a good price, I also stick to my split-investment strategy. I am not putting all my money immediately into one stock, but invest only a limited amount first, and add to the position again a few months later on.

Following this strategy, I may not fully benefit from a stock price increase, but I limit my risk and have the opportunity to purchase more shares at a lower price in the event the stock price may fall.

Being greedy has never been good advice. Not being scared and having a strategy is in my opinion a better approach.

Nobody knows what the future holds

When you wake up in the morning, you never really know what the day will bring you. You might have a schedule. Some appointments. Places to go. People to meet. Things to do. But there is no guarantee that all these things will indeed happen.

A person you wanted to meet might cancel the appointment. The place you wanted to go might become not accessible for some reason. And the things you wanted to do might become less of a priority as the day evolves.

The same goes for any business, and of course, for stock investments.

We never know what will happen in the stock market. While promising news about some stocks you bought might have prevailed in the market during the last week and made you feel very confident of future gains and profits on your investment, a single unexpected event can turn everything around.

Hope can turn to fear. Smiles to tears. And instead of counting your imaginary wealth, you might scramble to think about how to manage the next rent payment.

Benefits of having a plan

This is where strategy and planning comes into play. Of course we cannot predict the future. Nobody can. But we can put systems and strategies in place to help us mitigate potential challenges and at the same time offer us the chance to take advantage of potential opportunities.

Those strategies to name a few include:

  • Having an emergency fund of 3 months or more of your regular income/expenses
  • Having an investment thesis, an investment plan
  • Diversifying investments across countries, industries, and currencies
  • Having a good mix of dividend-paying stocks and growth stocks
  • Being calm
  • Being patient
  • Having some investment cash ready on the side
  • Not being scared to sell a stock at a loss when the story behind it doesn’t match your investment thesis anymore
  • Not being scared to buy more shares of a company that is losing value, but that perfectly fits your investment thesis

Taking the time to plan ahead, and to continue working on this plan as we learn, as markets and industries develop, and as challenges arise while opportunities pop-up on unexpected fronts makes all the difference between successful investors and gamblers.