Tips To Survive A Stock Market Meltdown

Tips to survive a stock market meltdown

“A market downturn doesn’t bother us. It is an opportunity to increase our ownership of great companies with great management at good prices.” — Warren Buffett

Recent financial headlines seem to have painted a picture of doom and gloom. Food and petrol prices are high, inflation is sky rocketing, interest rates are going up, not a lot of positives for investors. Combine this with supply chain issues stemming from COVID, the conflict in Ukraine and you’d be excused for thinking that there’s not a lot of respite on the horizon. When you add the above to the performance of share markets worldwide, there’s a distinct lack of positives. 

For the first half of 2022 stock markets around the world have been performing quite miserably. The S&P 500 is down nearly 20% for 2022, the Dow is down nearly 15% and the Nasdaq is down over 25% for 2022. Overseas markets have performed a little better however nearly every major bourse is down for 2022.  Seeing this market performance in 2022 can be a little jarring given the bull run we just experienced since the COVID market dip of Feb-Mar 20.

For those who have the long term investing view this downturn will likely just be a blip on your investment radar. For those who are speculating or trading and investing long in the market your nerves will be a little more shaken.

Below we discuss some tips to survive a stock market meltdown for your portfolio.

1. Don’t sell

“If you have trouble imagining a 20% loss in the stock market, you shouldn’t be in stocks.” — John Bogle

As we’ve discussed previously, your investment philosophy should be built around investing surplus income from strong household financial set up where you budget, put aside savings for a rainy day then allocate surplus income to paying down debt and investing with a long term focus.  

When you aren’t looking to access these investments for 20 to 30 years, short term performance has a different meaning than if you needed access to your investment portfolio in the next 6 months.  

Given this method of long term investing if your stock portfolio takes a hit as is the case in 2022 then it doesn’t really affect investment philosophy nor your investment mindset. We are building for the future, we will keep allocating regular money towards our investments, the present doesn’t really affect us. Yes it would be nice if our investments always went up however we look at this as a good investment opportunity (which we touch on below).

For those investors who are using money that they can’t afford to lose (such as money for this months rent or mortgage) then the recent market falls will be very concerning. If you were a buy/ long speculator planning to make a short term profit then liquidating your holdings this 2022 market dip has surely thrown a spanner into your plans.  

Part of the formula for successful investing is to keep your emotions in check (which may be a little difficult particularly when your holdings might be down 15-20% for the last 6 months!)  

However unless your investment philosophy has significantly changed in the last few months there should be no reason to sell any of your portfolio. Yes review your holdings however unless something has drastically changed with the stock or ETF you hold then keep holding on or better yet add to the position.

You never want your investment portfolio set up where you are forced to sell at an inappropriate time such as what we’ve got now. You should be in charge when you buy and sell and investment, never be in a position where you are forced to make a decision that’s not in your best interest.

As long as your automated financial system is still working and you are regularly adding high quality investments to your portfolio you will be fine in the long run.

2. Be contrarian

“I will tell you how to become rich. Close the doors, be fearful when others are greedy. Be greedy when others are fearful.” — Warren Buffett

As mentioned above it can be hard to stick to your investment philosophy when markets are tanking. It can also be hard to go against prevailing herd behaviour when investing. Recent financial headlines are painting a pretty bleak picture, it would be very easy to read this and put your head in the sand to wait out this market and economic turbulence.

However we suggest the opposite, to zig when others zag.  With some stocks and indices down over 25%, there are some fantastic investment opportunities in listed securities at the moment however it takes a little bit of courage to buy when all you see is selling.

This comes back to our long term view and we know short dips in the market won’t be with us forever. Look at 2008. Prevailing wisdom was to stay away from investing in stocks and real estate. If you had access to cash or borrowings in 2008 and invested in listed securities and real estate you would have made some serious money!

If the consensus is that it’s time to sell, it may turn out to be a great time to buy, particularly if a potential investment fits in with all your other investment criteria.

Look at the performance of successful investors such as Warren Buffett. The Oracle of Omaha has made billions from investing at times when others didn’t or in companies or sectors where others wouldn’t.

Buffett’s investments during the 2008 financial crisis were the stuff of legend. Granted his reputation and access to a huge amount of capital got him access to deals every day investors wouldn’t see, however his investments in preferential shares in companies such as Goldman Sachs, GE and Dow Chemical made billions and further added to the Buffett investment legend.

If we look at the current market performance, many are getting out of tech sector investments, could there be potential investments in this sector that may pay off years down the track?

3. Invest in areas that markets and economies are telling you to invest in

“In the short run, the market is a voting machine. In the long run, it is a weighing machine.” — Benjamin Graham

What are current finance headlines mainly focusing? If it’s not stock market sell offs, it’s usually about the high inflation rates or the supply chain crises that is still lingering from the original COVID pandemic from March 2020.

On a personal level, what are you seeing in your everyday life? High petrol prices, high food prices, increasing interest rates, delays in receiving goods you purchased online weeks ago? Is there a way that you invest in areas that can profit from these?

For example with high fuel prices, is there a way to find a managed fund or ETF that invests in fuel or energy? Could you find a managed fund or ETF that invests in food or at least agriculture? Could you find an investment that will take advantage of the increasing interest rates?

If you have invested in a fund that focused on energy or food then it’s likely this would have increased over the last few months which would have offset the increases in food and fuel prices that you would have experienced. Same with interest rate rises, if you’d found an investment that benefits from interest rate rises this would offset part of the increase in interest costs you’d have if you were a property owner with a variable rate mortgage (or a fixed rate that is about to reset).

Don’t force an investment, if there is nothing that suits your current investment philosophy then keep your powder dry. Alternatively look at the prevailing sentiment or conditions. If you actively managed your investment portfolio, can you find an investment opportunity that is reflected in current economic conditions or at least likely to benefit from these conditions in the short/medium term?  

4. Pay down debt/have cash reserves

“If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.” — Lao Tzu

There is nothing worse when you have a great investment opportunity however you don’t have the access to cash or debt to make an investment. Also in periods of high inflation (as we are in now) this can lead to volatile market performance as well as interest rate rises. So if you can, put whatever surplus income you have towards paying down any personal debt or towards your savings.  

If markets are looking like falling even more or at least to being volatile it might be better off diverting funds to pay debt particularly if no investment opportunities present themselves.

In times of true financial and market turmoil you want cash or at least access to it for any great opportunities. Look at 2008 as an example. If you had cash or access to debt you would have made a killing investing in the stock market or in most residential property markets. Keep your powder dry for those great investment opportunities that don’t come around often.

Whilst it’s not ideal that the share markets have significantly underperformed in 2022 this is nothing to be concerned about. Yes it’s not ideal if you log into your brokerage or investment account and see a lot of red however as discussed above this could be a potential buying opportunity or the very least a time where you stand pat.

If you’ve got your financial situation under control, have emergency funds and you are saving and investing your surplus income while building your passive income streams you will be fine.

Remember investing is a long term game and this market downturn will be a mere blip in your longer term horizon and providing your investments are of a good quality and not speculative ride this out, look for any potential investment opportunities and keep doing what you’re doing.