We often refer to stocks and bonds as securities.  Legally, these are certificates attesting to our ownership of these assets.  And we would hope that owning these securities would give us just that.  But you’ve likely experienced just the opposite over the past few months.  If anything, stock ownership has brought insecurity, and fear and anxiety along with it.

The temptation is to look to our retirement portfolio to provide security – that we won’t run out of money, that we’re going to be “okay”, that we won’t end up as Walmart greeters.  But the past few months have been a jolt to our security and have forced us to ask questions like “Am I going to be able to retire?”, “Should I be doing something different?”, and “How far down will I go from here?”.

I don’t want to discount these questions, as they’re important ones to ask and answer.  I can’t give a blanket answer to them either, because every situation and portfolio is different.  But what I think is important to address for all of us is what’s underlying these questions.  You see, I think there’s a bigger fear/issue/question at hand.  And for most of us, it has to do with our ultimate security.  Where we’re tempted to put our hope.  If I’m honest, when the markets dip like this, I feel a bit less secure.  From which I can only conclude that I too am tempted to look to my investments for security.

The truth is that securities can’t bring security because they’re just not secure.  If we put our security in our portfolio, it can be easily shaken.  As the markets go up, we feel better, and as they drop, we feel worse.  If, however, we put it in the unshakable God of the universe, it never can be shaken.  For He never changes, and He’s not wringing His hands over trade wars, inverting yield curves or anything else.

What are we to do then in the face of all this volatility?  I recommend a 3-step approach

Tell yourself the truth

That God is in control.  That long-term volatility is an ally that helps my investments grow.  That my investments haven’t actually affected my life over the past few months.

Also be sure to practice thankfulness and gratitude.  It’s difficult to be anxious when we’re focused on how blessed we are.  We’ve been given much, and we are simply stewards.  Remind yourself of this over and over so that it starts to sink in.

Turn off Fox News

Yes that’s right. Turn it off!  Their job is to make money, and fear is their biggest weapon.  They get paid by making you anxious, knowing you’ll stay tuned in hopes of finding the answers to your fears.  So turn it off and go enjoy more time with your loved ones, being outside, or a good book.

Review your strategy

You should have your next 5-10 years of withdrawals set aside in bonds and cash which shouldn’t be subject to these fluctuations.  If that’s the case, then you should be in good shape no matter where things go from here.  Most folks hurt themselves much more by over-correcting, so fight that temptation.

Real Security is found in a Person, not a portfolio.  Managing your investments is important, and we’re committed to helping you reach your goals.  Feel free to contact us if you’d like to discuss your investments, the current market environment, or anything else.

Happy 2019!