8 Quick Steps: My Bear Market Plan
Are we heading towards a recession? I lost a lot of money, should I sell my stocks? Should I buy now or am I catching a falling knife? STI plunged -X%. Blood is on the streets.
Yes, it is disheartening to see so much negativity in the market and your portfolio going deep in the red. These are all huge distractions and may cause you to lose sight of your objectives. Nowadays, I don't check the market much so tendency is high for me to forget about my investment plan. From time to time, it is good to have a list and go through it to remind yourself what actions to take during certain scenarios.
Here are 8 steps that I listed out to remain focused during a bear market or recession.
1. Ensure sufficient emergency funds
I've read that a good guideline is to set aside at least the amount equivalent to 6 times of your monthly salary in your bank account. In case of retrenchment, I should be able to sustain my lifestyle with my savings for 6 months while looking for employment.
2. Check my job stability
Here are some questions that I asked myself to assess whether my job is stable:
Has business been doing well for the past few quarters?
How are your competitors faring?
Do you take less than 8 hours to complete your daily tasks and responsibilities?
Could your job be automated or does it require years of experience?
If after thinking through, you feel that your job outlook is bleak then it is time to have a plan B and focus on saving more. Investment should only involve spare cash that you can afford to lose so don't get caught with your pants down. Having a job is still the best "investment" as it requires no capital but time and effort.
As for me, my company recently went through a first round of "restructuring" and it was shocking to witness departments easily dismissed with a snap of a finger. It is really unfortunate for this to happen to them during these difficult times. Those lucky to remain were kinda envious of the compensation but we soon changed our minds after seeing how the economy is struggling with COVID-19.
From this dismissal, I learned that being in a technical role doesn't mean iron rice bowl because it highly depends on the nature of your company's business. If it is a sales company, the common mindset is that technical people can always be trained. Although having years of experience often translates to better decision making which equates to saving costs or what I would like to call it, creating value for company. To the management, they see it as something that is nice to have but not necessary simply because it doesn't convert to dollar signs directly. Either that or the company has terrible management. For now, my position is safe until I hear rumours of a second round.
Another story I heard from a friend in the banking industry was that 3 teams of 5 were simply reduced to 3 individuals because of automation. This was back in 2018.
The Darwinism kinda hard truth here is if you fail to improve, you fail to exist so what we can only do is to constantly improve ourselves through active learning. Hope anyone affected is able to find employment soon.
3. Maintain a healthy lifestyle
The standard stuff like eat more fruits and vegetables, cut down rubbish food, work out regularly etc. Being healthy would grant me the freedom to do anything I want and the ability to enjoy life. There wouldn't be any use for wealth when you don't have health.
Two of my peers were diagnosed with stage 4 cancer which is frightening and depressing to see them being robbed of their youth. This reminds you of how short life can be and how it isn't all about making lots of money. Sadly, one of them passed away recently, I hope he is in a better place.
4. Spend time with family and loved ones
Remember to cherish the time with my family and loved ones. Friends may come and go but family will stick by you through thick and thin.
What better ways to spend time together is with all the promotions that attractions are pushing out to reel in visitors during economy downturn.
Here are some deals that I know of:
Universal Studios Singapore Season Pass: 6 months unlimited entry I visited USS recently, th egreat news is that it wasn't crowded. Battlestar Galatica rides only took me about 10 minutes to queue which means anyone will have sufficient time to try all the rides in the park.
Resort World Sentosa: Adventure Cove, S.E.A. Aquarium etc
Singapore ArtScience Museum: 1 for 1 admission A nice place for youngsters to take some photos for their Instagram.
Gardens by the Bay: 50% off entry to their attractions
Or remain at home just to be safe from COVID-19.
5. Save for future plans
This applies mostly to people of my age group or singles as we move onto the next phase of life like marriage, housing, renovation, starting a family etc. Whether invest or don't invest, life goes on so enjoy while it last. Just don't let the huge expenses drown you.
6. Sell your weak positions
After making sure that my family and I are doing well and our finances are intact, I can finally move on to investing plan.
Our battle with COVID-19 is estimated to last minimally 6 months to a year before the economy has a chance to recover. Businesses that have been struggling even before the virus outbreak will likely be in further distress or worse, bankrupt. Holding onto these stocks may result in loss of both value and opportunity cost.
Hence, cut your losses and deploy your remaining capital in better opportunities. Although I have to admit it is easy to say yet more difficult to do.
6. Invest in good businesses with fast share price recovery
During this bear market, literally every stock got sold down for the sake of selling. Hell, even my healthcare stock got pummeled which is counter intuitive considering there is a sickness going around. So, I am on a lookout for either resilient businesses with strong fundamentals while having potential growth in the future (Quality REITs and big tech names) or companies with cult-like followers *cough* Tesla *cough* (it is a great innovative company nonetheless). We shall see how it goes.
7. Prepare a shopping list or average down
Have a list of stocks that you want to buy so that you are prepared when the market has finally bottomed out and start deploying cash (crucial for me with limited funds). The real question is when will market ever reach the bottom? No one knows for sure but I am pretty sure it will definitely happen when the world declares that we are free from COVID-19.
8. Keep calm and collect dividends
Stop feeding fear and hang in there.
If you find it difficult to keep holding onto stocks with huge paper losses, just trick yourself thinking that these are portions of "cai png, bak chor mee, chicken rice stalls" that you own. Are you gonna sell them because most people coincidentally decided to eat maggi mee at home that one day? No right? It doesn't mean that your food sucks. Assuming that it really doesn't taste like crap of course.
We still have at least 4 months to go so those with huge war chest do buy slowly. Those with limited capital like myself just average down ever slowly and wait for the recovery while collecting dividends.
Hope this helps out, cheers!
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