Not a day goes by when both new and experienced investors attack the stock market with a mouse, a fresh wad of dough, unchained enthusiasm, endless confidence and thinking, “This is the day!” What fuels this? Is it just simple greed?

Not always.

Maybe it’s an overblown estimation of intelligence, overconfidence in one’s abilities. Its very easy to fool your ego. Possibly, it’s just the herd mentality and not wanting to be left out, or as retirement looms closer, a late-in-the-game catch up exercise, perhaps? 

Maybe it’s simply too much time spent on Facebook, where everyone is Crossfit-buff, Stepford-beautiful and Bezos-rich. Driven by regret and the sense of lost opportunity, investors want in, but when nearly half of Americans can’t seem to scrape up $400 to pay for an emergency, this exercise in futility becomes all the more dangerous.

…we humans are a complex bunch of nut sundaes…

Whatever the reason may be, we humans are a complex bunch of nut sundaes, but we share certain traits in common, one being that we think we’re smarter than the next guy or gal, and so, it should be child’s play to just throw a few darts, click a few trades and sit back and wait for the cash to roll in. Right. 

But smart money is patient in a world of get-rich-quick. Smart money is methodical in a world where random acts of finance rule the day. Smart money is logical in a world where feelings and emotions reign supreme. 

Smart money wants to be the market, it doesn’t want to beat the market, because it knows it can’t do it often enough to make it count.

But when you believe you’re smarter than the market, bad things can happen. The worst being, you actually score on a few trades and you believe you are smarter than you are. Smarter than the market.

Bull markets are notoriously responsible for creating more geniuses than Mensa-gened parents.  “Buy low, sell high” looks great on a T-shirt or coffee mug, but it’s astonishing how most investors, who happen to be human, do precisely the opposite. Reality check: You are not smarter than the market. You are not a genius. We’ve been in a very long-term bull market. It will end.

When? I don’t know. Apparently, nobody does.  How did you feel in 2008 and 2009? 2001? Were you a genius then, or did you tuck your tail between your legs and dive head first into a piping hot cup of “get me the hell out of this!”?

The market has had a spectacular run since 2009, and even more so since the 2016 elections, culminating in the longest bull run in history. But in that span of time, there were brief visits to correction territory, punctuated by terrifyingly volatile days when the highs and lows were separated by as much as a thousand points.

Yo, genius! Now what? It’s time for decisions.

When current events make it appear that now is a time for decision, what do you do? Should you do anything? Should you do nothing? No, it’s not whether to be “in or out.”  It’s precisely these times that separate the long term winners from the short term losers.

Volatility should not cause you to be “in or out.” Rather, it should cause you to reflect on the validity of your overall objectives-based asset allocation and consider if any modifications are warranted to help you stay invested even through inevitable market downturns. 

It’s an altogether different mindset.

Traders love volatile markets. Should you? Well, that’s up to you if you want to get all emotional about it, but if your goal is to become a methodical, logical long-term, emotionally intelligent investor willing to take all the market can give, both up and down, you need to think about your goals no matter what the market is doing today.

It should not go without saying that depending where you are on the longevity yardstick (millennial, retiree or somewhere in the middle), your age should play a leading factor in your investing plans.

The goal is to replace your emotional and random decision making process with a rigorous set of personal protocols regarding money. If you’ve done your homework, set allocation parameters relevant to your situation, understand risk and time calculations, have made your portfolio decisions based on quantifiable planning objectives, keep cash available for opportunistic additions to your portfolio, and most importantly, curb emotional behavior, then the daily green arrow-red arrow war shouldn’t phase you.

When you’ve done these things then you are the market.

(Full disclosure: We are not a geniuses; We are the market.-WealthKeep)

Never. Lose. Money.

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