Throughout the stock market melt down we kept our stock positions and even invested more money in stocks. We did this across our portfolio, but the ultimate results of this strategy are most visible in my 401(k). I max out my 401(k), every year. This is not discretionary, it's something that I must do to ensure that my wife and I are economically secure when it's time to retire.
The nice thing about 401(k) contributions is that they happen every two weeks like clock-work, meaning that you invest regardless of whether the market moves up or down. Market timing is not a factor. As the market fell, my existing portfolio fell hard, but my new contributions were purchased at a huge discount. When the eventual rebound came, those discounted purchases more than off-set the original losses.
I only started contributing to my 401(k) plan in May 2008, and suffered through the worst of the bear market, but as of last Friday, my 401(k) was solidly in the black, as you can see in the chart below.
Of course, this is only the case because my regular contributions were large relative to the funds already invested, but still, I think this gets the point across: buying buying low pays off when the market turns around. If I shifted to a more conservative stance following the declines, my 401(k) portfolio would not have been above water today.
BTW, the pic may be a bit too small to make out the details, so here here's a quick guide: the blue position is an S&P 500 index fund; orange is an international stock fund; yellow is a REIT fund; and green is a bond fund. My allocation is 70% for S&P and 10% for each of the other funds. I re-balance quarterly. The regular jagged line shows the bi-weekly contributions and their cumulative value.
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