First things first: What exactly is a bear market? It’s when the stock market as a whole is off by 20 percent or more from its high point. If you look at stock market trends, you’ll see that this shows up about once three years.
Preparing for the Bear’s Rampage
When the bear starts his rampage, your initial reaction may be unsettling. It will probably look like tough times are on the horizon, and you start envisioning yourself losing all the gains you’ve made financially. But don’t let the bear fool you. There are ways to not only prepare, but also to succeed with bear market investing.
If you keep your wits about you and a cool head, the market’s troubling timespan be used to your advantage. Knowing that a bear market is inevitable, there are a few things you can do to prepare for it.
Accept that the Bear Is Going to Come Along
Downturns are going to happen, and there is nothing we can do to prevent it. Just like everything else in life, the stock market has ebbs and flows. If you want to get biblical about it, look at it this way: the market giveth and the market taketh away. These swings are just a normal part of the investing game. Take advantage of the downturns when they occur and you’ll come out ahead when the bear goes back to hibernating.
Cut the Leverage
In financial circles, the term “leverage” refers to money borrowed at any level. It could be money you borrowed from a bank to buy your home, or from a credit union to buy a car. You may even have borrowed money to get into some investments.
The problem is that leverage is just a fancy way of saying debt. And debt can rapidly grow into a massive burden during challenging economic days. When you get a hint that a bear market is rearing its ugly head, you’ll want to get rid of as much leverage as you can, from both your invested portfolios and your everyday life. Doing this shields you from some major financial problems that can arise when hard times hit.
Spread It Out
This simply means to make certain all your investments aren’t sitting in one stock or fund. Diversification should be the strategy that rules your portfolio. This will give you flexibility during a bear market. To keep your assets performing at an acceptable level while the market is down, spread your money out into cash, bonds, favorite commodities, varied real estate and stocks.
Keep It Fluid
If something in your portfolio is doing well, sell some of it. Purchase some of what is not doing so well. This is the basic tenet of the “buy low, sell high” strategy that is time tested. Even when the popular trend may be going in the opposite direction, don’t jump on the “buy it while it’s hot” train. This process of rebalancing your portfolio shields you from the bear market while allowing you to sell stocks at a profit and buy bonds while they’re low.