Mr. Market’s Wild Ride


Bad Market!

Bad, bad, bad Market!

Can’t I even go on a little vacation without you tearing up the place while I’m gone?

I turn my back for one second (well, OK, maybe two months) and you start sliding?

And then that 1000 point drop? What’s up with that? Yes, yes, I know. It was only about 5% and not anywhere near your worst behavior. But still. You knew full well that 1000 figure would drive the pundits bananas!

Since I’ve been gone, you’ve managed an ~11% decline from your record close back in May. Just over the 10% needed to be called a correction. Happy now?

At least you’ve given the media something to obsess about other than Donald’s latest remark or Hillary’s email server.

And now I’m back and you’re up ~2%?* You think this makes the mess you left me OK??

I’ve got readers asking what my take on your bad behavior is, and I’m still just moved in to the new place yesterday and haven’t even begun to unpack. Bad Market!

OK. Here’s my take:


Yawn by Uzlo


Wake me up when it’s down 25%+ and it’s worth doing a little rebalancing to buy more stock

I have no idea what the market is going to do next. Nobody does. Not even (especially not!) those “experts” popping up all over telling you they do. The principles of Investing in a Raging Bull apply equally to investing in a Raging Bear.

As we’ve discussed through the Stock Series, Mr. Market always does the right thing over time. But he’s a drama queen and an attention whore. Periodically he’s going to have these hissy fits. And as with any temper-tantrum throwing little monster, we can just ignore him till he settles back down. No matter how long and loud he wails, settle back down he ultimately will.

Or, we can take advantage of him.

If you are in the Wealth Building Stage we introduced in Part VI and talk about throughout the Stock Series, you are already aggressively saving and investing on your path to financial freedom. Your regular investments, which hopefully you have automated, will have you buying on these pull backs. Anyone in this Stage should be rooting for corrections. You’ll be taking advantage automatically.

If you are in the Wealth Preservation Stage you can take advantage simply by rebalancing your portfolio. But I wouldn’t bother unless we get more of a pull-back.

Personally, that’s what I’m rooting for: A nice fat plunge.

I’ve always regretted not taking advantage of the crash in 2008 to move to all stocks. I’ve never really liked holding bonds all that much and in these days of low interest rates I see them as pretty risky. I’ve kept them for three reasons:

  1. They smooth the volatile ride of stocks.
  2. They provide a pool of money to draw on to buy stocks on market dips.
  3. They provide interest income.

My pal Go Curry Cracker has a plan to unwind his bond postion and move into 100% stocks which I rather like and might well follow:

“If a 25% drop happens, then I’ll move 1/2 of our bond position into VTI**. If the market drops another 25%, I’ll move the other 1/2”

**VTI is the ETF version of VTSAX, both hold the Vanguard Total Stock Market Index portfolio.

How would this effect my three points above?

1. The volatility of the stock market really doesn’t bother me anymore. Those who’ve read my Stock Series won’t be surprised at this. Partially this is attitude, partially that I’ve been thru enough plunges not to be fazed and largely because even a major crash would have little effect our lifestyle.

We live well below our means and are flexible in our spending. Plus the prospect of geographic arbitrage (moving to a less expensive part of the world) would be an adventure rather than a hardship.

2. While this pool would be gone, it would be gone buying stocks at a 25-50% price discount. Mission Accomplished.

3. VBTLX is currently paying 2.46% interest. So I’m not giving up all that much income.

So, come on Mr. Market. Show me what ya got!

Meanwhile I’ve got boxes to unpack and pictures to hang.

*Oh, so now just to spite me, you’re going to close down today 1.35%? So that how it’s gonna be…

Addendum 1:

If after reading this you are still agonizing over the drop in your holdings, think of it this way. Last I checked Warren Buffett was worth ~72 Billion. So in this 10% correction he has “lost” $7,200,000,000.00

I’d still trade net worths with him.

Addendum II: Or get yourself some Exposure Therapy

Addendum III: Or take solace in the fact you can be the worst market timer ever and still make money. (Thanks to Elephant Eater in the comments below for this link)

Addendum IV: From just about a year ago… Nightmare on Wall Street

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Important Resources

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  • NewRetirement offers cool tools to help guide you in answering the question: Do I have enough money to retire? And getting started is free. Sign up and you will be offered two paths into their retirement planner. I was also on their podcast and you can check that out here:Video version, Podcast version.
  • Tuft & Needle (T&N) helps me sleep at night. They are a very cool company with a great product. Here’s my review of what we are currently sleeping on: Our Walnut Frame and Mint Mattress.


  1. Charlie says

    This is the first true test for me on how I stomach stock volatility. I say true test because my portfolio is finally large enough to drop down a magnitude of several bi-weekly paychecks in a matter of days. Admittedly, for the first 10-20 seconds after I initially found out about the drop I had a pit of anxiety in my stomach, however it quickly vanished as I realized this is probably a really good thing seeing as I’ve got at least another couple of years accumulating.

    • jlcollinsnh says

      Hi Charlie…

      Think of it this way.

      Last I checked Warren Buffett was worth ~72 Billion. So in this 10% correction he has “lost” $7,200,000,000.00

      I’d still trade net worths with him. 🙂

  2. Vicki says

    Hope you had a terrific summer! Welcome back! I was hoping to see you respond to what’s happened the last few weeks 🙂

    • jlcollinsnh says

      Thanks Vicki…

      It was great fun.

      I didn’t plan to “be back” until we got settled into the new place but that pesky Mr. Market forced my hand. 🙂

      Hope the post helps!

      • Vicki says

        Yes it does! I am currently re-reading all of your blog posts (well most!) as I was able to move all of my 403b funds to Vanguard after leaving a position in higher ed this summer…. It is all sitting in Vanguard in Money Market Funds. Just figuring out how/when to put this to work in this market while I “try out” scaling back and working a bit from home.

  3. Carlos says

    Jim’s Back!

    Now that I’m unemployed (retired, lazy bum, vagabond whatever you want to call it) I’m annoyed that I don’t have fresh capital from a wage to invest more on the downswing.

    A 10% correction is a normal course of business for the market and hasn’t panicked me a bit. I’ve been too busy wandering around China, Malaysia and Singapore. 🙂

    If it goes down 25 or 30%, well I’ll cross that bridge when it comes. I’d probably go 100% equities and pare back expenses.

    Good luck unpacking!

    • jlcollinsnh says

      Back, but I’d rather be wandering around China, Malaysia and Singapore. My kid in the Peace Corp is out there somewhere…. 😉

      Sounds like you’re enjoying the FI life! Well played. Well earned.

  4. Fervent Finance says

    Hope vacation was a blast, and that unpacking goes smoothly!

    Since I’m in the wealth accumulation phase (aka throw every extra dollar I have into Vanguard index funds phase) I welcome the volatility. I just hope the market doesn’t correct itself in the next two weeks as I should have a decent irregular cash inflow in the beginning of September that I want to put to work at cheap prices!

    • jlcollinsnh says

      Someone once told me to always expect the market to do at any given moment exactly whatever is counter to my immediate interests at that moment.

      Guess that’s what made me a long-term investor. 🙂

  5. Nate says

    I’m at 100% equities. Ever since I graduated two years ago, my only investment ever has been the total stock market index fund. I love the simplicity of it and I have no interest in trying to time the dips. You get such amazing, nearly magical returns from the extremely low cost and broad diversification of the total stock market index fund. It makes me kind of sad to see people getting nervous or excited about the dips and rallies. You have this almost perfect wealth building tool and very few people trust it and use it through the highs and lows. Always love seeing new posts! Welcome back and good luck with the unpacking

    • Edward says

      “I’m at 100% equities….amazing, nearly magical returns.” This common recency bias and your extolling a 100% equity position worry the heck outta me, Mr. Collins. Kids these days think everything goes up always. While I know a seasoned investor, like yourself, can handle and expects the rollercoatser ride, despite their confidence, most newbies won’t be able to hack a 100% equities position if a multiple-year bear market comes along. And the thing I worry about is those are the ones who come here seeking advice and *will* bail if the going gets bad. (We know this as a historical fact.) It’s sort of like an experienced rock climber saying, “Nah, you don’t need that harness, kid–just do what I do.”

      • jlcollinsnh says

        Hi Edward…

        The advice on this blog and running throughout the Stock Series is to:

        —Invest for the long-term (think decades)
        —Expect stocks to periodically plunge. This is a natural part of the process.
        —Stay invested during these plunges and ignore the media panic.
        —During the Wealth Building Stage (working, saving, investing) keep investing all during Mr. Markets Wild Rides.
        —If you can’t or won’t stay the course, investing in stocks is not for you.
        —And if you want to smooth the Wild Ride, here’s how:

        Will all who read and start to follow this advice, stay the course? Of course not.

        Some, including me (, have to make the mistake of selling at the bottom and watching it recover without us.

        Better for “kids” to learn this lesson early and low on the rock face. 🙂

        • Nate says

          I just wanted to post a quick follow up comment to those above. I have (an continue to) invest only in the total stock market fund because of a couple things:
          1.) simplicity-no need to rebalance accounts, no need to time the market, no need to worry about market swings, sectors, etc
          2.) the stock series-I’ve read every article in the stock series at least three times. the worst a stock can do is -100% ,the best it can do is unlimited. Even with huge underperformance of the market, with a 40 year time horizon, I’ll be wealthy beyond what I need.
          3.) dollar cost averaging – I’m investing for the long term and I am depositing money into vtsax equivalent every two weeks. When dips happen, I’m still buying. when a rally happens, I’m buying, by automatically dollar cost averaging, the swings in the market just don’t matter
          4.) Jack bogle’s book- I also read “Little Book of Common Sense Investing” by Jack Bogle. An excellent book that shows the true value of broad based index investing.
          5.) understanding – the key to great money management is knowing what you’re going to do in any market scenario and being to make those decisions unemotionally. If you truly understand investing is buying 1000s of companies all working to make the best products and most money, it doesn’t feel like gambling.

          I’ve only invested for 3 years, but in that time, I’ve seen almost every person I work with make multiple bad investing decisions. Everyone thinks it’s easy to avoid the bad stocks and buy the good ones. They are fooling themselves and will certainly continue to react emotionally to short term swings (whether is be -5%, -20%, -50%, etc)

  6. Me says

    How do you get to 2.46% interest for the VBTLX?

    The last dividend was $0.022 while the fund was $10.78. That would be 0.2x% interest.

  7. Alex says

    Hey Jim, welcome back! I’ve been furiously reading this summer.
    I was wondering if anyone could help me out. I know you recommend 100% equities, and given that I’m 23 I without a doubt see the benefits. When I saw the news yesterday my first thought was, oh great, a sale!
    The one thing that’s scaring me is the fact that I may want to put a down payment on a house in 5-10 years. It seems from my experience that when the markets are down housing prices are often also down, as in 2008, which would be a good time to get into a ridiculous market. (I live near Toronto, the prices are obscene…) However if the markets are down I also may not have the capital to put up a downpayment if I’m not holding any bonds to smooth it out a bit.
    Am I way overthinking this?
    Thanks in advance, I love your site!

    • jlcollinsnh says

      Hi Alex…

      From the little I know about Toronto’s RE market I wouldn’t go near it. At the very least, read this and run the numbers before you buy:

      That said, you correctly observe that when housing prices plunge they drag down stocks. So just when houses are cheap, the money you planned to use from your stock portfolio is reduced.

      Add to this investing in stocks is a long-term game. 5 years is bare minimum and 10+ far, far better. You should be thinking in terms of decades.

      If you are really determined to own a house, you really should be saving your money in cash instruments. Unfortunately those provide virtually zero return these days…

      Personally, I’d focus on building my wealth and worry about a house I might want to buy in 10 years 10 years from now.

      • Alex says

        The more I look into the housing market the more I think renting is serving me better! I read that article of yours a while back, it lays it out well. I may have to start sending it around to over curious relatives. Especially right now while I work downtown the only way I could own in the near future would be to have an hour+ commute, no thank you.
        I think you’re right, I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it, 100% equities it is. A lot can change, especially as I’m just starting my career. Thanks for the advice!

    • Mike says


      I think that it’s awesome that you are thinking about this when you’re 23! As has been pointed out by many blogs I think that the most important things are starting young and saving at a super high rate (see: Mr Money Mustache)

      Not sure if this is helpful, but I’ll share our story of living (and then moving out of) the Greater Toronto Area. We lived in Milton (suburb of Toronto) before we moved to the US in 2013. We put everything in our house and made out pretty well (again more about savings rate, less about specific strategy). If you want to invest in the index in Canada, be careful because most mutual funds there have high visible and hidden fees. I think you can get Vanguard ETFs, but I don’t know what the process is (there is a post about it on this blog I think).

      We had a 1600 sq.ft. town home built for the ridiculous price of $263k (we put 25% down). At that time we read a book called “Smoke and Mirrors” which introduced us to the idea of index investing. It also introduced us to the fact that the Canadian Mutual Fund industry is horrible with crazy high loads and invisible “trailing fees”. It was 2007 and we didn’t know anything about Vanguard.

      My wife and I were still living like students. She had a good job and I was getting a PhD. We saved like crazy, living of my stipend and saving pretty much all of her salary. We put everything into our mortgage. Our rate was 5.09%, but as you know there is no mortgage deduction in Canada. So the interest we were saving was after tax money and we got a guaranteed return of about 6.3%. We accelerated our payments and almost always put the maximum prepayment allowed per year ($20k). This is probably not the optimized strategy for wealth building, but I think that in Canada it’s a pretty good strategy to get a reasonable return with zero volatility.

      We sold our town home in 2013 for $393k and had about $70k left of the mortgage. The 50% appreciation we got was actually kind of low for Milton because of the slow down in real estate prices in the recession. Before that period appreciation was something like 15% / year. Finding a job outside of the GTA has been a key to our long term financial health. If not, we would never have been able to take advantage of that appreciation.

      We aren’t yet financially independent (age 37), but we’ve used our savings to buy some freedom for my wife whose able to stay at home and raise our children (at least until they are both in school). We bought our house here with cash and have the rest in Vanguard.

      Buying the house cash is probably not be the optimum strategy. But, moving from Canada means we had no credit history when we came here and couldn’t even qualify for credit cards. I also like having the house paid off because (1) it helps with cash flow, (2) it’s in a great school district for our kids, and (3) it can’t be taken away by the banks if we did ever go bankrupt (I think).

      I’m also lucky because my employer has Vanguard in my 403b (but only the SP500, not Total Market Index).

      If you are interested, I’ve recently started listening to the “Radical Personal Finance” podcast (which has an interview with one JLCollins about not seeing your home as an investment). It has at least a couple of episodes that specifically discuss achieving FI in Canada. I generally like the podcast, but haven’t listened to these “Canadian” shows yet.

      Good luck!

      Edit: That was much longer than I intended.

      • Alex says

        Thanks Mike, I appreciate you sharing your story! You’re right that the Canadian market is certainly unfriendly to investors. I was lucky that I started doing my own research before blindly listening to an advisor. I’ve been in the Tangerine index funds for a little while, they have an MER of 1.07% which is higher than I’d like, but for starting out they were great. When I was first starting to learn about investing I realized pretty quickly indexing was the way to go, the Tangerine funds are incredibly simple and transparent for a newbie.
        Since then I’ve been reading a lot, MMM and here of course among others, and I’m almost ready to take the plunge by myself. Questrade seems like the best option in Canada, you can get Vanguard funds through them for minimal fees.
        In regards to the house I’m thinking renting will work out to be the better option for me for the next while at least. I was looking at the math today and if I reach the number I’d need to be financially independent with my current lifestyle (and rent) I could probably move out of the city and buy a house with cash. The reduction in my stash should still allow for a safe withdrawal to cover my expenses once rent is removed. So for now I’m not worrying about saving for a downpayment specifically, as you said I’m just going to focus on a high savings rate and figure out what fits my lifestyle as I go!
        Thanks for the podcast recommendation, I’ll give them a listen.

  8. Sam K says

    Somehow I had a feeling you would come out of discuss this, and am very grateful you did. I keep reading about people strategizing to take advantage of the dip. I wasn’t worried that it dipped, it was the not investing yesterday that made me wonder if I made the right choice. But, your past posts have made me tune out many things, and I too was waiting for at least 20% drop to make a change. Otherwise, for me, it takes up too much mind space. Takes away time for quality moments with the family ????. I just gave my 19yo nephew your link, I hope he reads the series.

    Hope the move is going well, and you had a great summer

    • jlcollinsnh says

      Thanks Sam…

      Good to know. I almost didn’t bother writing this post.

      If in some small way I’ve helped you tune out some of the noise surrounding market drops like this one…

      …job done! 😉

  9. Jon Sheridan says

    The Godfather aka Great Uncle Jim returns to provide his steady hand and sage advice. And not a moment too soon ( although he might disagree given his version of “endless summer”.) You have been missed…but like any wise guy worth his salt….you arrive while the bullets are flying. Welcome back…

    • jlcollinsnh says

      Thanks Jon…

      ..for your very kind words…

      …and warm welcome back…

      …but usually I try to avoid areas where the bullets are flying! 🙂

  10. Dollar Flipper says

    I’m just hoping it holds out until Friday. I swear every damn other Friday (paycheck day) the market goes back up a few percent. Just as I’m automatically putting money into my 401k and my wife’s 457. Convenient stock market.

    I wonder if there’s more paychecks that go in on those Fridays and some super computer is completing micro-transactions to make a quick c0uple million dollars!

    • jlcollinsnh says

      Good luck with that, DF….

      But as I said to FF above:
      “Someone once told me to always expect the market to do at any given moment exactly whatever is counter to my immediate interests at that moment.”

      Guess that’s what made me a long-term investor. 🙂

  11. Mr. Crackin' says

    This is the first dip in the stock market for me and it’s kind of exciting. I never knew enough about Mr. Market until I read a bunch of books over the winter and found your blog. Now I think I’m pretty prepared to do nothing in this random walk. I know that most of the “experts” are really experts of bullshit.. I watched one video that said the stock market is going to bounce back because we’ve never had a bad year that ended in five. Um yeah… right….

  12. Mr. FC says

    Welcome back Jim!! Hope you had a great summer, still looking forward to the book!

    Mr. Market went slightly ape but whatever. My favorite Buffett-ism (maybe it was Charlie, I can’t remember) was that in the short term, the market is a voting machine, but in the long term it’s a weighing machine.

    Hope the dip holds out until Friday when I can buy again!

    • jlcollinsnh says

      Thanks Mr. FC…

      I think that was Charlie.

      As for the dip holding for you, see my notes to FF and DF above. LOL!

  13. Melissa in Colorado says

    “But he’s a drama queen and an attention whore.” HA! Brilliant! I will be using that phrase with the market newbies as they have all gone into panic mode in the last 48 hours.

  14. Scott Pepper says

    Jim, thanks for this wonderful reality check on petulant, emotional Miss Market. I was hoping you’d be back in time to comment on this, and there it was in my inbox this morning! Hope you had a great summer vacation. I particularly loved your comment about “geographical arbitrage”, what a fun, adventurous way to look at life — truly making lemonade out of lemons. We spent 2012 to 2014 living in various places, and had the time of our lives. Now we’ve settled down again in a new part of the country (for us), and even though we got a great deal on our new (old) house, I worry that maybe we shouldn’t be putting roots down quite so deeply as houses have a way of making you do…

    • jlcollinsnh says

      Glad you liked it, Scott…

      The world is filled with lovely and inexpensive places I might move to anyway. So not much hardship there. 😉

      Houses have gravity and that gravity attracts more and more stuff. That stuff in turn adds to the gravity and it gets stronger the longer you are there. Slowly but surely the escape velocity needed to break free builds…

      That’s my theory anyway. 😉

  15. Buffalo Jim says

    Hi JL,

    I’m 25 and just this year opened up a Roth IRA and dumped the yearly 5500 in right before this market dip. Should I be worried at all? My right and left brain are conflicted.


    • jlcollinsnh says

      Not if your plan is to hold that investment and keep adding to it for the next 60 or so years.

      And if that’s not your plan, it should be. 😉

      Also, see Nate’s comment above.

  16. Paula R. says

    Welcome back, Jim!
    should I not worry then about my small stash in Vanguard? I don’t want to even look at it!!!! 🙂

    • Ken says

      It is ok to look, just don’t do anthing with it. (unless it is buying more VTSAX) If you insist on trying to time the market, be fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others fearful….

    • jlcollinsnh says

      Thanks Paula!

      Sure. Worry all you want. 🙂

      But as Ken says, just don’t do anything (other than continuing to invest).

      Not looking at it is a fine approach. Other than to add to it, forget about it for the next 20-30 years. Take a look then. 😉

      Oh, and also see Nate’s comment above.

  17. Jerry says

    Hi Jim,

    I recently retired back in May and my wife has been retired for two years now. Would you say now is a good time to take some of our cash savings and place it into the Vanguard Total Market Fund ? Any other comments about the numbers below? Thanks 🙂


    Age: 55 DW: 57

    403Bs : 1.067M (all stocks) (Fidelity, Troweprice)
    Roths : 60K (Fidelity-Total Market Index)
    Cash: 185K (Bank saving account)
    Vanguard: 7.5K (Total Market Index)
    House is paid for: 175K
    No other debt
    No children

    Pensions (after tax):
    Me: 38K
    DW: 32K

    Estimated Yearly Budget: $38K . This will increase as we add more travel.

    Health Insurance paid until I am about 63.5 years old. Then we have to go health care shopping.

    • jlcollinsnh says

      Hi Jerry…

      As I’m not a market timer, something no one has been able to successfully do, the recent market gyrations have nothing to do with whether now is a good time to invest in VTSAX, or stocks in general.

      The right time to do so is when:

      1. You are investing for wealth building for the long-term
      3. Doing so fits in with your asset allocation strategy

      My only other thought is that with a yearly spend of 38k, 70k in pensions and ~1.3 million in investable assets, holding 185k in cash as an emergency fund seems a bit high.

      You must be expecting one whopper of an emergency! 🙂 🙂

  18. SomedayExtraordinary says

    Agree with this 100%. I just wrote an article about premature thoughts on the market crash and how it actually creates a huge buying opportunity. I was talking to someone the other day about how the market is tanking and so they rebalanced their portfolio. The only way to rebalance at a time like this is to take something out of the least risky holdings and transfer into some of the big names that recently took a dive for the eventual sure-thing recovery (which we’ve seen over the last couple of days). Otherwise, buy into some industries that are currently down (energy, commodities), as the economic cycle tends to trail the market cycle. Economy is still getting stronger, so commodities should pick up some steam from the demand side. We shall see!

    Good write up!


    • jlcollinsnh says

      Thanks SE…

      I agree with you on the energy/commodities dynamic. In fact I have a little side investment in the sector. (Shhh. don’t tell anybody) So far it’s been ugly, but I think it will work out over the next 6-12 months or so.

  19. Eric F says

    Welcome back. Long time reader, first time commenter.

    50% stocks
    25% real estate and reits
    20% bonds
    5% cash

    38, married, kids. Still working. But invest as in the wealth preservation stage as I have accumulated a decent nest egg and would trade long term gains for a smoother ride.

    • jlcollinsnh says

      Hi Eric….

      Thanks for joining the conversation.

      Looks to me like you’ve thought it through, done a fine job of understanding yourself and your needs, and putting together an allocation that works.

  20. Tom Lilienthal says

    Love this latest blog post by you, Jim. Between you, and, I feel I’m on the right track. Nice that the three of you generally agree on investment strategies.

  21. EscapeVelocity2020 says

    Nice to be able to yawn. I do remember harder times, when the rug was pulled out from under me. I thought that the stock market was ‘rigged’ and wouldn’t advise anyone to invest in it. Maybe now that investing in ETF’s and index funds has become ‘conventional’, maybe a new problem will eventually surface? But I’ll enjoy feeling wealthy and also confident and able to profit on conventional wisdom of being frugal and investing in index funds in the meantime. I wouldn’t mind if I retired at 41, so if my blog starts to produce income, maybe I will 🙂

  22. Fred P says

    Welcome back Jim.

    I hope you had a great time in the summer.

    I just wanted to thank you for putting me on the right track. I love your blog so much I keep reading your posts over and over again. I’m 25, thinking long term and just started wealth accumulation phase and put 10k on VTSAX on monday, the 24th and will now follow with 5500 on a traditional IRA.

    Thank you Jim, please keep writing. 🙂

    • jlcollinsnh says

      And thank you Fred.

      Your very kind words, and those of others, are what keep me motivated and make this worthwhile.

      I’m impressed that you are unfazed enough not to even mention the sharp drop immediately after you deployed your 10k. That kind of cool detachment will serve you very well in your investing career.

      Congratulations on getting started so early. Stick with it and your results will be amazing!

  23. Newbie says

    Novice question for the group (and I posted this on Curry Cracker as well): In general I understand the markets will always go up, but do you ever lose sleep at night wondering about the Japanese stagnation phenomenon whereby a stock market can provide zero real return over a two decade time frame due to a confluence of factors (including initial over-valuation)? In other words, the concept of the markets always go up has been historically true in the U.S., but not everywhere else in the developed world.

  24. Markola says

    Hola Jim, I really like what you said above about market drops not bothering you anymore because, to paraphrase, you have survived a lot of them and you know you can pull different levers to manage them. There are many, many additional levers when you stop and think about them, though Geographic Arbitrage is maybe the most adventurous. “Screw it! Honey, we’re taking our talents to Guatemala”. One I don’t think you mentioned in this particular post but have elsewhere is Social Security, which will kick in like the most dependable deferred annuity imaginable. With a modest lifestyle, a big part of our plan is simply waiting for maximum SS age to draw it, which ought to allow us to live well off of SS and just dividends from that point forward. Keeping that fairly secure long view helps me yawn through the media panics. Thanks for the reassuring post, though. My plan for the next actual serious crash is to re-read the Stock Series then mow the grass or do something useful.

    • jlcollinsnh says

      Hola Markola…

      Here’s the post on SS:

      You make a good point. While it would be much less than our current spend, we could live just fine on SS alone.

      When the media breathlessly says “You can’t live on SS alone!” what they really mean to say is:

      “You can’t live on SS alone if you insist on maintaining the same lifestyle that prevented you from saving and investing, put you in debt and now has you facing living on SS alone.” 😉

  25. Len says

    Hi Jim!
    While you were away, I found your blog and read the entire stock series as well as a few other posts, along with some of the mad fientist and other great bloggers of your ilk.
    That being said, I have a question I hope to get your opinion on. I just received an inheritance of a high 5 figure amount and I’m planning to buy a house with my future wife in the next 5-7 years…I know, I know, It wasn’t my idea…Until then I was thinking to put maybe half of the inheritance in VTSAX until the time to buy is right. So the question is…is 5-7 years too short of a time horizon to invest? Should I invest or hold off a few months until some of this volatility subsides from the market?

    I’d love to hear your opinion because I’ve been going back and forth for a few weeks about this and I just don’t know what to do.

    • jlcollinsnh says

      Hi Len…

      With a 5-7 year timeframe, the traditional advice would be to save for and hold your downpayment money in something like a FDIC insured saving account. Of course in doing so you will have no potential for growth and will lose a bit of spending power to inflation.

      Investing in stocks is a long-term play; think in terms of decades.

      That said, how fixed is your deadline for buying the house? If the markets moved against you would you be OK with delaying the purchase?

      If you want to roll the dice a bit, investing some or even all of your money could get you there sooner. But you have to accept the risk.

      The idea of holding off for a few months is market timing, which is a mirage. No one knows what the next few days, weeks or months will bring:

  26. marklovesbikes says

    Hi Jim
    Something has been rolling around in my head furiously for the last month- really curious what you think…
    Do you think if the Dow dropped significantly to something like 12,000 it would be insane to sell my house and put the $350K equity into VTSAX while I budget travel for 1+ year?

    • Vicki says

      That’s interesting and we were talking about something similar. My guess is we would have trouble selling our house (for anything close to what it is worth) if the Dow dropped that dramatically though…since panic would be rampant. Just my thoughts 🙂

    • jlcollinsnh says

      Hi MLB…

      I’m guessing this would be a bike trip? 🙂

      With the Dow trading a bit above 16,000 today, a drop to 12,000 would represent a further decline of 25%. Certainly possible, but I doubt it will happen.

      If it did, I share Vicki”s concern. Such a 35%+ total drop would very likely push housing prices down as well, or at least make your house more difficult to sell.

      With these caveats, you could wait and let the market’s action dictate your course. Or you could just go for it now, trading the risk of lower housing prices for the missed opportunity of possibly lower stock prices.

      So, not insane at all if traveling is what you want to do at this point in your life.

  27. Fred says

    Great post – I’ve just started my career and this market drop has wiped out all of my gains since I’ve started investing last summer (I’ve doing a passive index fund strategy that is so commonly recommended).

    I’ve also written a blog post on this, but you’ve explained this situation so much better and in a more complete fashion. Thanks! I’m glad I follow you.

  28. Jeremy E. says

    I once asked you if it was a good idea to sell bonds when the market was down, more so than rebalancing, to sell 25% of bonds when the market is down 25% and more when the market drops more.

    You responded by saying the following,
    “If I understand your rebalancing plan correctly, what you are doing is market timing and that is something that rarely works out well.

    Rebalancing, which you should do, is simply a matter of buying and selling your funds each year or so to maintain the percentage allocations you’ve chosen as described here:

    So, if you are trying to implement the ideas I discuss here, you are pretty much off base. If that’s the case, hopefully my comments will help.”

    • jlcollinsnh says

      Yep, I did.

      And I’d respond the same in that context of rebalancing a stock/bond allocation.

      In the context in the post above, it is as a strategy to move to 100% equities.

    • jlcollinsnh says

      Thanks Daws…

      That was my intent: a serious message made fun, with a bit of mocking the media reaction thrown in. Good to hear it worked.

      At least in NZ. 😉

      And jlcollinsnh always needs more Kiwi readers.

  29. Josh says

    Welcome back, Jim! I’m guessing you get these a lot, but here’s my (not-so-short) story and thank-you…

    I spent most of my 20s in grad school and not thinking about my finances; had enough to get by and want raised to think much of it. Fortunately, I wasn’t making nearly enough to be wasting much 🙂 I’ve been out in the real world (with a salary!) for a couple years now and this year I started reading up on the “right way” to handle my finances.

    Like many, I found my way to this corner of the web via the Mad FIentist and MMM. With all of these tabs open all the time, I got to work at the beginning of the year with the emergency fund, then some 401k, then the IRA, then more 401k, then moved the entire 401k fund into VINIX (thanks, employer), and then started to get curious about a taxable account. I’ll admit I was kind of nervous.

    I opened your Stock Series in a browser tab sometime this spring and made an agreement with myself: no action until I read every one of these articles and understood what I was getting into. Fast-forward a few months of better understanding my spending, saving up some cash, and evening/weekend reading of the Series, until I finished. With the saved cash, I called up Vanguard and opened a new account of VTSMX. A few months of auto-contributions plus a couple of bonuses that went straight to Vanguard and they sent me a link to automatically upgrade to VTSAX.

    It feels good knowing that I’m trying to get my funds to work for me. Thanks for taking so much of your own time to help the rest of us, Jim. It’s no exaggeration to say you’ve changed many folks’ lives.

    • jlcollinsnh says

      That’s a wonderful story, Josh…

      …and I love the way you methodically did your reading and planning.

      I’m honored that the Stock Series played a helpful role.

      Thanks for your very kind words. You made my day!

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