How to Avoid Losing Your Investment Discipline

Focus on Your GoalsThe single largest factor dividing successful investors from others is discipline. Discipline is choosing between what you want now and what you want most. Investors who stay focused on their key long-term goals tend to outperform others and often in dramatic fashion. With the broad stock market at record levels, will you have the discipline to stay put when the next temporary decline occurs? Let’s look at how you can give your discipline a boost and avoid reacting and running.

 

Handling Investment Stress

The first and most important question to consider when investment stress arrives is this: Have your goals changed because of current market conditions? If not, that is your answer and no significant portfolio changes should be made. Knowing that you are focused on what you want most should help bolster your discipline.

The second and perhaps most practical method for staying disciplined is to rebalance your portfolio once a year or so. This rebalancing should take the portfolio back to the original portfolio allocation targets. There are numerous studies that indicate regular (once or twice a year) rebalancing produces better returns over time even taking into account trading costs and taxes from realized gains. More frequent re-balancing is subject to strong debate and the data is much more mixed. Therefore, relatively small variances from the original portfolio allocation targets should be expected and tolerated.

 

Should You Rebalance in Taxable Accounts?

Rebalancing in taxable portfolios can indeed create capital gains and therefore capital gain taxes. Sometimes clients don’t want to trigger these taxes and fight the discipline of rebalancing on that basis alone. It is worth remembering that long-term capital gains tax rates (assets held for more than one year) are still far lower than ordinary income tax rates.

Will the stock market move higher or lower in the weeks ahead? We don’t know and unless your goals have changed,it doesn’t really matter. Remember, investing is future-based. Being invested in the market is not temporary but permanent. Ready for a real conversation?

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