If you are retired or retiring soon, you probably have different financial needs than you did when you were younger, and will soon need to replace your wages. If you’re counting on your investments to do that for you, I believe your number one job is to protect your principal. After all, if you lose half your money in the next bear market, you probably won’t be able to live the retirement lifestyle you want.
That’s why our foundational philosophy at Money Matters is buy, hold, and sell. By selling our clients’ assets or telling our clients (and the listeners of my radio show) to sell in November 2007, we helped those who followed our advice to avoid the stock market carnage of 2008 and 2009. And recently, on December 17th, we told our clients and our newsletter subscribers to get out of equities, again hoping to protect their principal from what appears to be a bear market.
People ask if I worry about selling if this doesn’t turn out not to be a bear market. I don’t. To begin with, I think we are in the beginning of a bear market. Yes, we’ve had some big “up days”, but the Dow and the S&P have been going down since October, and each new low is lower than the previous one. That’s classic bear market behavior (and denying that the market is turning bearish is classic investor behavior).
Secondly, remember that number one job I mentioned? At Money Matters, we believe that protecting our clients’ investments is the most important task we perform, so I feel good about keeping our clients’ money out of harm’s way. While it is possible that our sell signal can incorrectly predict that a bear market, like it did for us in 2015, our sell strategy is like a tornado siren. Even if the siren goes off and the storm passes by without damage, I’m still glad I alerted people to the potential danger.
We’ve designed our strategy to give us unlimited upside. As long as the market trends upward, we stay in. But when that trend changes and our analysis tells us that the odds are now against us, we take shelter.
Is it too late for you to get out right now? I don’t think so. If the Dow drops 90 percent like it did in the Great Depression, it’s not a bad idea to consider getting out when you you’re 15 to 20 percent down. Protect your principal, I believe—and live to fight another day.