I don’t suppose that worrying is ever a good idea. If there’s something in your life you are concerned about, and you have the ability to change it, then you can and should do so. If you have no control over it, worrying about it won’t improve anything and might even negatively impact your health.
Nowhere is this more relevant than with your invested savings. Many of the people who come to me for advice start by telling me how worried they are about their investments. If you’re one of those people, I may have a simple solution to help you alleviate all of that stress.
Let’s start with a simple question: How frequently do you review your investment performance?
If you are a news junkie and strive to catch that stock market report every day, Bob Seawright of Madison Avenue Securities in San Diego calculated that the Standard & Poor’s 500 index increased only 53 percent of the time on a daily basis over the past 20 years. That means you would have been disappointed with your stock investments on average practically every other day. If you weren’t a worrier, that could certainly turn you into one.
Maybe the answer is not to look at the market quite so frequently. What if you only checked on your stocks once a week, say, every Friday? The website Seeking Alpha analyzed returns from 1962 through 2017 and revealed that the S&P 500 increased on average 56 percent on a weekly basis. That’s certainly some improvement over 53 percent.
Perhaps keeping away from the financial media for an entire month might help. Yardeni Research determined that going back to 1928, the number of months in which the S&P 500 had ended in positive territory grew to 59 percent.
You get the idea. What about looking only at annual results? That would be much better. Since 1928, the S&P 500 has had positive annual returns more than 67 percent of the time. No surprise considering that the stock market over the long run has outpaced the growth in the country’s gross domestic product.
The reason we invest in the first place is to participate in the growing valuations of companies contributing to a robust capitalistic economy.
To those of you who demand scientific rigor, I admit that the comparisons above span different time periods, and confess that I just didn’t have the resources to recalculate them on a more standardized basis. Nonetheless, the data still suggest that if we simply choose to check our investment performance less frequently, we are likely to observe positive returns more often. And those returns would be more consistent with our investment horizons and the goals for which we have been saving in the first place.
So why not try giving up worrying about your investments by following this approach? There are plenty of other things in our society worth stressing over. Don’t worry about not having anything to worry about!