How To Change Your Investing Style

It’s easy to adopt a balanced approach to investing but sticking to it is much harder. If you recently switched to a balanced allocation, you might be tempted by the stock market’s January rally. Options can help you stay with the plan. If you are more interested in preparing for retirement, there’s a way to do that too. Although I discourage market timing, there are much better approaches to timing the market than following fear and greed.

Some options can help you to avoid giving in to greed and going back to a stock-heavy portfolio. The right call options make enormous amounts of money if the market does well without exposing you to large losses. You can usually buy a one-year 20% out of the money call on the 2x leveraged stock ETF SSO for less than 5% of the price of the underlying ETF. Putting a little bit into these calls is a potential cure for your fear of missing out. Anything more than 5% in derivatives is usually hazardous to your wealth. After another market crash inevitably occurs, you can stop buying calls entirely. You’ll be glad that you missed out on massive losses during the bear market. In the long run, most investors prefer the steady returns of a balanced allocation without any calls.

Gradual change is much easier, especially for investors approaching retirement. Rather than suddenly switching to a balanced approach, you could change your investments over time. For example, you can add another three percentage points to gold and bonds each year. You would have 94% stocks, 3% gold, and 3% bonds in the first year. By the second year, it would be at 88% stocks, 6% gold, and 6% bonds. You would finally reach a retirement allocation of 40% stocks, 30% gold, and 30% bonds at the end of ten years. Best of all, there is no market timing risk with gradual change.

Market timing is another way to change asset allocations, but it is riskier than most people think. Many investors were panicking and selling stocks in 2008, but Warren Buffett was buying. No wonder Buffett’s most famous advice is to, “Be greedy when others are fearful, and fearful when others are greedy.” After the market rally in January, most investors are feeling greedy again. Contrarian technical indicators like RSI and MACD are much better guides than our emotions. It turns out that a rally is often a “signal” to sell stocks rather than buy them. Contrarian technical indicators can also be combined with a gradual change to create a long-term plan.

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