There are plenty of certainties in life, and trading is no different. Whether you’re a novice trader or a professional, one of the few guarantees when it comes to any market is that there will be bear markets, and there will be bull markets.
It’s easy to get caught up in the highs of a bull market, but when it comes to navigating bear markets one needs to keep their wits about them. Below we outline 8 trading strategies to take with you through times of dropping price movements.
Only invest what you’re willing to lose
The golden rule of investing: never invest more than you can afford to lose. It might sound grim, but the reality is that no market or asset is ever guaranteed to succeed so be wise with your investments. Whether in a bear market or a bull market, this golden rule should never be skipped.
Once you’ve set up your budget and determined your living expenses (rent, groceries, insurance, etc), only then can you establish how much money you can invest. Bear markets and price corrections can have a significant impact on your finances, never take a chance with your living expenses or by underestimating the importance of establishing what your risk tolerance is.
Embrace dollar cost averaging
Economic cycles will inherently go up and down, and a great way to minimize risk is to implement dollar cost averaging into your trading strategy. Ideal for traders with a 10+ year timeline, dollar cost averaging involves buying the same asset on a consistent basis no matter the price. With the varying price differences, investors typically accumulate more for less over a long period of time.
This dollar cost averaging strategy is particularly useful during bear markets when the asset prices are typically undervalued, which leads us to the next point.
Find undervalued assets
During a bear market, asset prices are often described as being pummeled and underpriced, presenting an excellent buying opportunity for the savvy investor. The trick here is to know what you’re looking for and to conduct adequate research. In a bear market, both good and poor companies have hammered down asset prices, ensure you do your research to determine the one from the other.
Bear markets tend to also be a great time to accumulate more from the companies/assets you are already invested in, accumulating the assets for less than they’re worth. This is a common strategy used in the stock markets when stock prices are undervalued.
Market timing can mean everything whether you're in bear market territory or not, so make sure you have adequate information before engaging in declining markets.
Branch out with diversification
Bear markets are a great time to implement an asset allocation strategy and broaden your investment horizons. When asset prices are low (even during market volatility) it creates an excellent buy-in opportunity for investors to spread their portfolios across alternative investments such as bonds, different asset classes, cash, and stocks.
Regardless of whether it's a bear market or a bull market, always consider your risk tolerance and financial goals, and as always conduct your own research, as you explore different markets and determine whether they would be a good fit for your portfolio.
Explore non-cyclical stocks on the stock market
Non-cyclical or defensive stocks are a type of investment that usually do well even when the overall stock market is down. These stocks are from companies that make things like toothpaste, toilet paper, and soap, items that people still use even during tough times and market downturn. They usually pay regular dividends and have stable earnings, which can make them a good choice for investors who want to reduce risk during stock market decline.
Treat bear markets like you would a bear
During a bear market sometimes the best thing to do is exactly what you’d do if faced with a real bear in the woods: play dead and don’t make any sudden moves. In the financial sense, this means moving your money to safe places and not making any sudden, irrational buy/sell trades.
This typically involves putting more of your money into safe investments that you can easily access, like certificates of deposit (CDs) or U.S. Treasury bills. By doing this, you can ride out the market's ups and downs without losing too much money
Leave your emotions out of it
On Wall Street, there's a saying that 'The Dow climbs a wall of worry,' which means that even when things seem bad, the stock market can keep going up. Applicable across all markets, as an investor, it's important to not let your emotions guide your decisions. Sometimes big problems turn out to be not so bad in the long run. Fear can make it hard to think rationally, so it's best to stay calm and carry on with your investment strategy.
If prices are falling, there are ways to make money from the situation. One way is through short selling, where you borrow shares in a company, ETF or asset and sell them with the hope of buying them back at a lower price. Another option is using put options, which increase in value as stock prices fall and limit your potential losses.
Inverse exchange-traded funds (ETFs) also let you profit from a falling bear market by increasing in value when major indexes go down. These can be easily purchased from your brokerage account without requiring margin accounts or advanced trading skills.
Not ideal for beginner traders, only implement these strategies if you feel confident to do so or have contacted the necessary professionals.
Bear markets are an inevitable part of trading, and it's essential to be prepared with strategies to minimize losses and even profit from the situation. By only investing what you can afford to lose, embracing dollar cost averaging, finding undervalued assets, diversifying your portfolio, exploring non-cyclical stocks, leaving emotions out of your decisions, and potentially using short selling or inverse ETFs, you can weather the storm of any bear market.
It's crucial to remember to stay calm, do your research, and seek professional advice if needed. With these strategies in mind, you can navigate a bear market with confidence and come out on top.
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