Should I Get Out of the Stock Market?

Should I get out now?

Change is certain.  I have lived through 7.5 decades of uncertainty and change. From Vietnam to hyperinflation to the dot-com bubble, I have seen and experienced tremendous volatility and uncertainty in the economy. A few years ago when gas prices were going through the roof, I remember leaving for vacation and seeing gas lines in Atlanta with prices over $4 per gallon.  Just two weeks later, I returned to find gas in great supply and prices under $3 per gallon.  That was some fast change!

 During this same time, SUVs quickly went out of fashion as people were looking for cars with much better gas mileage. We have now seen SUVs regain their foothold in the marketplace and used car sales skyrocket. Every year, we see some big change occur that feels permanent only to return to where we came from a short time later. It always seems that in our current economy (whatever that might be), we’re viewing our decisions through a different set of lenses. 

We are in the middle (near the end?) of one of the greatest bull markets that the stock market has ever seen. For years, the professionals have been saying that values are too high and unsustainable. Despite the many warnings, the stock market has continued to climb. In light of this lengthy bull market, many people are wondering if we need to change our “market lenses” as well.  Should I hold my stock regardless of the perceived overvaluations?  Has the market become outdated like my SUV was years ago?  Is there a more streamlined, fuel-efficient use for my money?

Economic change is always certain.  Ecclesiastes reminds us that there is “nothing new under the sun” (1:9)  As a financial advisor, I don’t believe in planning for extremes.  If I did plan for extremes, I would spend all of my time stockpiling and hoarding and most likely miss the joy of living.  Most likely, the sky would never fall in my lifetime, and I would have given my family and friends an example of fear rather than an example of faith merged with careful planning.

Speaking of careful planning, what is your investment strategy?  Do you save some each month so that dollar-cost averaging works for you?  Do you diversify so that you cut down on risk?  Have you worked backward in your planning by deciding how much you need at retirement and saving toward that end?  These are the real questions that apply to your relationship with the market.  Very few people who are invested in the market for the long term would need to react to a current market downturn by selling.  In fact, many people would be wise to invest in through any downturn in the market, since you will be getting more for your money than you would have been prior to the downturn. 

What is your strategy?  Do you have one in place?  Have you prayerfully considered it and agreed to it with your spouse?  If so, rest assured that staying the course and following your long-term strategy is the best way to weather any economic uncertainty.

Where is your faith?  Do you take time to acknowledge God’s control and His goodness toward you?  Psalm 145:17 – 18 says, “The Lord is righteous in all his ways and loving toward all he has made.  The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.”  Have you been able to focus your heart on God’s provision and faithfulness to the extent that you have been inundated with news reports and radio spots and op-ed articles?  

Put your trust in God, make a plan, and then let go and remember that no matter what happens God is in control.

May God’s peace encourage you as you pursue financial wisdom and depend on His truth.