Investing in stocks and other assets is a great way to grow
long-term wealth. In fact, if your goal is to retire comfortably, it's smart to
put your savings into stocks, which have a strong history of delivering solid
It's also a good idea to check on your investments from time
to time, whether they're in a retirement plan or a brokerage account, to make
sure they're performing the way you expect them to. And as the value of your
different holdings shifts, you'll want to keep checking on your investments to
make sure you're still well-diversified.
But one thing you shouldn't do is check your investments
obsessively. And according to a recent Personal Capital survey, a little more
than 20% of people check their investments on a daily basis. If you're in that
habit, it's time to break it -- before it comes back to bite you.
The danger of checking your investments too frequently
The stock market can be very volatile. But even during
periods of relative calm, it's possible for the value of an individual stock to
fluctuate from one day to the next, especially if news comes out that impacts
That's why checking your portfolio every day isn't a good
idea. It can be very unsettling to see the value of your investments tumble
overnight, and that could, in turn, lead you to make rash decisions -- like
dumping investments when they're down rather than giving them a chance to
One thing it's easy to overlook is that when your portfolio
value declines, you're not actually out any money on the spot. Rather, you only
lose money if you actually sell stocks or other investments for less than what
you paid for them. And so the last thing you need is to be tempted to take such
action over what will often boil down to a temporary blip.
Be in it for the long haul
It is possible to make money in stocks on a short-term
basis. A safer bet, however, is to take a long-term approach to investing and
plan to hold your stocks for many years. That way, you'll have time to ride out
the market's ups and downs and come out in a profitable position.
Once you commit to investing on a long-term basis, looking
at your investments every day becomes needless. After all, what's the point in
stressing over an overnight decline when you're not planning to liquidate your
stocks for several decades?
It's all about moderation
To be clear, checking your portfolio every quarter is a good
idea. You may even want to have a look every month. But a daily checkup can do
much more harm than good.
If you're in the habit of reviewing your investments every
day, use those few minutes to instead meditate, walk around, or do something
else that's good for your health. But obsessing over the value of your
portfolio could have the opposite effect -- it could cause you unnecessary
stress that you don't deserve to deal with.
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