After the markets took an incredibly volatile ride on August 24th, zerohedge.com published this letter to CNBC from a millennial named Ryan, who wrote:
“I’ve dipped my toes in the stock market this past year but after today’s action, I have to say I’m done. Forever. Gone. Don’t count on another dime of mine in the market.”
Ryan isn’t alone. A surprising 74% of Millennials surveyed said they do not own stocks. And that’s unfortunate for Ryan and his fellow GenY-ers.
Ryan’s letter is worth a read – and he’s makes a couple of good points – but he’s also misses a very important point: none of this should really matter to a Millennial.
“I’m sure countless little guys had their stocks absolutely steamrolled this morning only to see the big guys scoop up the shares on a discount.”
There is obviously a wide range of ways to experience the market: as a small investor, as a large investor, and as a robot. Are other people going to do better than you sometimes? Sure. They’re also going to do better than you at sudoko, finding parking spaces, and – unfortunately in my case – Fantasy Football as well. But that shouldn’t matter to you, and shouldn’t keep you from investing in your own financial independence.
The stock market is volatile and, sure, some investors may make impressive bets while others experience much too impressive losses (all investing involves risk, including the risk of the loss of principal.) But, historically, the S&P 500 averaged a 7-8% return (after inflation)* each year and that’s value you’re missing out on if you’re not invested.
“The only “people” who can react to those pricing distortions in real time are computers. This isn’t a place for small time people like me.”
Nothing beats human guidance and judgment to prevent panic selling or override a previous decision when a drop in a price is anomalous and not due to a fundamental loss in value. Having a plan and sticking to it is usually the best approach and there are great Financial Advisors ready to help you or sharing their insight on the web.
“The only reasonable thing that any little guy can do is sit back and say, “Wow there is a lot of distortion going on and I can’t even guess at these prices.”
Investing shouldn’t be guesswork and doesn’t have to be. A good financial advisor – or your own research – can help you select a diversified group of financial instruments tailored to your own financial goals and risk tolerance. With that in place, along with a well-thought-out plan for steady saving and investing, market price fluctuations should not disrupt your plan. If you’ve got a solid financial plan, investing in the stock market does not affect your ability to pay your rent, take care of yourself or your family, or add to that rainy day emergency fund.
I hope you reconsider, Ryan.
As Millennials, we’re in it for the long haul, we have years of disciplined savings ahead of us with interest that will continue to compound if we avoid reacting emotionally to the markets.
Once the uneasiness of August 24th has worn off (and much of that day’s paper losses have already been recovered,) I hope you and the millions of Millennials who are not yet investing, take advantage of the opportunity to invest while you are young, to maximize your options for reaching your own financial goals, whatever they may be.