What can we do? One of the mantras behind our Bulletproof Income strategy is: “Avoid catastrophic losses.” Doug Casey has warned us that in a drastic correction most everyone gets hurt, so our goal is to minimize that damage and its impact on our retirement plans.
Here are a 4 ways you can help protect yourself.
- Diversify. Not all sectors rise and fall at the same speed. Optimal diversification requires more than just various stock picks across various sectors. Limit your overall stock market exposure according to your age. You don’t have to be all in the market. There are still other ways to earn good, safe returns. International diversification will give you an added margin of safety, too, not only from a market downturn but also from inflation.
- Apply strict position limits. No more than 5% of your overall portfolio should be in any single investment. When I look at the record margin debt, I wonder how so many investors can go hog wild on a single investment. Planning for retirement demands a more measured approach.
- Set trailing stop losses. If you set trailing stop losses on your positions at no more than 20%, the most you could lose on any single trade is 1% of your overall portfolio. The beauty of trailing stops is the maximum loss seldom happens. As the stock rises the trailing stop rises with it, which will lock in some additional profits.
- Monitor regularly. As part of my regular annual review, I go over each one of my stop-loss positions. I use an online trading platform to keep track of them. Depending on the stock, you may want to place a stop-loss sell order or use an alert service that will notify you if the stock drops below your set point. Other investors prefer to use a third party for notification.So, why do I check my stop losses? My particular trading platform accepts the orders “GTC,” meaning “good ’til cancelled.” But GTC really means “Good for 60 days and then you have to re-enter the notification.” Just read the small print.Also, sometimes stop losses need adjusting. As a stock gets closer to the projected target price, you may want to reduce the trailing stop loss to 15%, or maybe even 10%, to lock in more profits.
We all want to enjoy our retirement years and have some fun. I sleep well knowing we have several good circuit breakers in place. We may get stopped out of several positions and stuck temporarily holding more cash than we’d like. But that means we’ve avoided catastrophic loss and have cash to take advantage of the real bargains that are bound to appear.
And so the band plays on as baby boomers and retirees continue to limbo.
From the very first issue of Money Forever our goal—my mission—has been to help those who truly want to take control of their retirement finances. I want our subscribers to have more wealth, a better understanding of how to create a Bulletproof portfolio, and confidence their money will last throughout retirement.
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