The historic bull market that ran for nearly 11 years came to an abrupt end in February, and we’re officially in a recession. That leaves you with two investing worries: Where you should invest now and whether you should pull money out of the stock market in order to preserve it. You may feel anxious about investing in stocks, but you can’t just leave money sitting in cash. That’s taking on another kind of risk: that your money won’t keep pace with inflation.
The world may seem scary right now, but about the last thing you want to do when it comes to investing is trust your own emotions.
“The entire premise of making a financial or investment decision because you feel a certain way is, in itself, a warning sign,” said certified financial planner Douglas Boneparth, founder and president of Bone Fide Wealth in New York. “We typically don’t want to make our decisions based on our emotions.” Also avoid making investing decisions based on interest rates or headlines, Boneparth says. And definitely take any ads you see with a grain of salt. Whenever the economy is uncertain, you’re likely to see more recommendations to buy gold or assets supposedly not linked to the stock market. These may seem like an attractive and safe place to put your money, but here’s what to consider before investing in things, such as cryptocurrencies and companies’ initial public offerings (or IPOs), that may not help you meet your goals.
If you’re looking for a way to get in on the ground floor of a hot stock — who doesn’t wish they’d bought Apple at $22 in 1980? — know that the odds of getting rich from an IPO are slim. First, Boneparth says, you have to take on a significant amount of risk. “Don’t invest your life savings in the hope that it will be Google or Facebook,” he said. “Most IPOs will not provide that same kind of performance.” “If you get an email or watch a commercial that millions of people are reading, do you think you’ve come across something so unique you’re going to capitalize on it?” Boneparth said.
Several claims about gold — that it’s a safe haven or a hedge against inflation — have been debunked. “It has risks associated with it like any other asset,” Boneparth said. Gold is a Godiva chocolate of an investment in that it is very tempting, according to CFP Stacy Francis, president and CEO of Francis Financial in New York. It may be the most strongly debated investment out there, and it’s unfortunately very attractive, she says. “You can hold it, you can touch it,” Francis said. “But compared to investing your money in the S&P 500, it hasn’t been able to keep up long-term.”
Gold tends to perform better when the stock market is struggling, which can be tempting to those who want to time the market. “However, timing is not easy to get right,” Francis said. “If you own 100% gold, you missed out on the stock market rebound as gold under-performed during the stock market run-up of the last decade.” Anyway, do you really want to time the market? In June 2018, stocks were beating gold. Then, slightly more than a year later, gold was outperforming stocks. Here’s what one successful investor — Warren Buffett — says: It is an unproductive asset. It doesn’t pay interest like bonds or dividends like stocks.
Don’t fall for the graphs in advertisements. “Some charts can manipulate numbers to tell a different story,” Francis said. “There will be definitely be time periods that show gold is the best investment on the face of the planet.”
Digital or virtual currency
You’ve probably heard people declare the importance of cryptocurrency. Francis herself owns some. Her husband purchased several Bitcoins at the bargain price of $10. He was naturally very happy when the price started rising, but two of their coins were stolen off an exchange, Francis says. While there’s better tracking now, it still pays to be ultra-cautious when buying assets on lightly regulated market.
All cryptocurrency has the same underlying risk, Francis says. This is not to say digital currency is an awful investment, but you need to know its place in your portfolio. And that place is not the money you’ll need in retirement to buy food and pay your living expenses. The current price of Bitcoin, around $11,000, also is a consideration. There’s a world of difference between buying Bitcoin at $10 and paying more than $15,000 for one coin, Francis says. “Thinking long-term is what allows people to meet their goals,” Francis said. “It’s not [as exciting as] winning the lottery or winning at the roulette table at Las Vegas, but sometimes boring is a good thing.”