It has been said repeatedly that the one aspect most investors can really count on is that markets are cyclical.
Youve got the bulls running high, which are often followed by the bears who are hibernating and running low. And then it reverses itself.
So, trying to time a cycle is usually not a great thing to do as each cycle stands on its own, not only in length of time but in what is called intensity.
My friends at First Investors say that many people have what is known as the rearview mirror approach, meaning that you cant know for certain when is the best time to invest your shekels until it has already passed you by. Youve all heard the buying high, selling low stories. Not good. Therefore, what can you do?
Try thinking about when you might want to re-evaluate how you invest.
First, consider the scenario that comes into play when you have just gotten a promotion (which may be rather odd in todays economic climate) or you have just been fired (which is more the norm), or if you have left your job for a new venture.
Second, take a look at the home fires. Marriage, divorce, new child, illness, death. All warrant another look at that portfolio.
Then, keep in mind any change in income. Suppose there is more coming in as the result of a raise or bonus, or possibly more is going out because a child is now off to college or new loans have been incurred.
And, of course, there is what is known as avoidance. I havent even looked at my portfolio in years and I am getting close to retirement or even reaching certain financial targets.
Any of the above can have effects on your portfolio so youve got to keep your eyes wide open on what is happening around you.
By the same token, even though you cant control what is actually happening out there in the investment world, you should be in a position to see what specific changes it can have on that portfolio. Suppose your portfolio is 75 percent in stocks and 25 percent in bonds.
Well, over the past year, you have probably noticed that the stock portion has gotten hit heavily (or is that an understatement?) so that if you still wanted to hang onto that 75/25 balance, then you would either have to reallocate the investments by shifting some assets from bonds to equities or to make a contribution somewhere that can get the equities stake back up to 75 percent.
Rebalancing will help in two ways: it gives control over the risk factor and it can possibly help performance.
The bottom line is that in todays wild economic ride, it is probably best to revisit the strategy you may have set up a while back and see if there are any major life changes that would affect it. You should do this at least once a year, and certainly after any major life changes.
Keep in mind that although you cant control the market itself, you can certainly maintain a well-balanced approach to your investments. It takes some patience and it takes some understanding so that these blips in the market dont take you away from your long-term goals.
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