Predicting the direction of the market is like predicting when you will hit the bulls-eye in a dart game. The majority of the time throughout market history, the markets have been rising. History shows that the chance of your money growing in a diversified portfolio of stocks and bonds is much like the odds of your next dart hitting any number on the dartboard... except the bulls-eye. If you are going to try and time the market by moving your money in and out, you have to ask yourself how confident are you that you can hit the bullseye when you do.
In simple terms, speculators are trying to out-smart the markets while investors simply participate in the markets. The investment time horizon is also a very important factor as speculation tends to be over the short-term while investing is over the long-term.
The S&P 500 or the Dow Jones Industrial Average are not reality. Reality is not price-to-earnings ratios and technical market studies. Symbols on the computer screen are not the real world. In the real world, companies create wealth. Stock certificates don’t. Stock certificates are simply proxies for reality.
The general economic model of a recession is that when unemployment rises, consumers are more likely to save than spend. This places pressure on businesses that rely on consumers’ income being spent. As a result, company earnings and stock prices decline, which can fuel a negative cycle of economic decline and negative expectations of returns.
Who do you think you’ll be in a year? 5 years? 20 years? One of the big problems with setting goals, especially financial ones, is that we’re struggle with imagining our future selves. Remember what you imagined you’d be as an adult when you were a kid. I’m guessing there are some gaps between that dream and your current reality. When we talk about financial goals, we’re often talking about long timeframes.