“Will You Still Love Me” made music history twice. The Shirelles version, released in 1960, was the first single by an all-female group to hit No. 1. A decade later, Carole King’s “Tapestry,” which included “Will You Still Love Me,” was Album of the Year and stayed on the charts longer than any album except “Dark Side of the Moon.” A year later, The Shirelles followed their No. 1 hit with “Mama Said.” When markets go crazy, it is important for investors to remember what mama said: There will be days like this.
Earlier this month Nobel Prize winner Dr. Robert Schiller was part of a trio answering market-related questions. The host annoyed me by calling him Robert instead of Dr. Schiller; mama raised me better. Dr. Schiller was the only one who admitted, quite candidly, he had no idea which direction the market would go tomorrow or next week. I don’t either. One of the crew trotted out the bromide about higher interest rates stifling stock prices. As I type, the 10-year US Treasury note is at 2.82 percent but last March it was 2.62 percent. The 10-year Treasury touched 3 percent in February of 2014 so no one knows where prices will go or why.
Keep things in perspective. From their March 2009 low, S&P share prices increased more than 290 percent. While huge declines are not fun, prices as of Feb. 8 are roughly the same as late October 2017. Money needed for near-term expenses like college tuition, living expenses, or a house down payment shouldn’t be in stocks. If two-three year spending goals are covered, look at the bright side. If you don’t have to sell, lower stock prices are background noise. Market corrections are part of how markets work. Please get the hook for the next guy or gal who says stock markets are like casinos. The longer you stay in the casino, the more you lose.
Rising stock values masked an important fact. Your investment return is not nearly as critical as the percentage of earnings you save. Build up your pile of money first then worry about the return. One of the hardest things about becoming a millionaire was not spending the first $100,000. There is no way to control what returns will be, but you can control how much you spend and save. Lifestyle “creep” can cause more financial damage than market declines.
When paying off a mortgage, too often we compare the mortgage rate with stock returns. This correction reminded us stock returns are volatile. To properly evaluate, add a market-risk premium to the mortgage interest rate. Otherwise, it is apples and oranges.
As Johnathan Clement noted on Twitter, stock prices are discouraging, but things could be worse. Ask a bitcoin investor.
You can’t always get what you want, but Buz Livingston, CFP can help figure out what you need. For specific recommendations, visit livingstonfinancial.net or come by the office in Redfish Village, 2050 Scenic 30A, M-1 Suite 230.