by Al Thomas
If you don't know where you are going any road will get there. After you get there you might not like where you ended up. You must plan ahead for your trip.
Do you know where you are going with your retirement portfolio? Do you have a plan mapped out? Do you know what to do if your plan starts hemorrhaging money like a stuck pig? Remember 2000? Of course that will never happen again, will it? I'm glad you are so confident. I'm not.
Every professional trader has a plan. Wait a minute. You say you are not a professional trader and you wouldn't trade like they do anyway. Well let me let you in on a little secret. If you don't learn to invest like a pro you are going to give him all (or most) of your money whether you like it or not.
What is it like to trade like a pro?
You won't like it and your broker and financial planner will like it even less. It is simple. The road to success is the road that has an exit ramp, in fact, several. It is like doing the Baja Road Race and carrying many spare tires. Without several tires you are not going to make it. Where are those exits? Why so many spare tires? Because without them you will be off the road in a ditch and unable to carry on.
The exits and the tires are your protection against becoming lost or broken down on your way to a comfortable retirement goal. To get where you are going in any vehicle you must not be stopped so you have to find an exit ramp when everyone else stays on the stagnating highway. That spare tire is one of your stocks or mutual funds that has gone flat and must be replaced. You are going to make it. The poor (sic) people who have no plan will remain mired on the highway to nowhere.
There is a secret to being a successful investor and it is one word - SELLING. Yes, any fool can buy, but it is the wise man who knows how to sell. That is called an exit strategy. If you do not have one you are doomed to lose money. During the long term bull market from 1982 to 2000 everyone became a financial genius. Now that we are in a long term bear market (that history shows us lasts and equal length of time) many of those financial geniuses are back in kindergarten and may not have time to graduate.
As the current stock market becomes more dangerous it is time to get out your road map to see where the exits are. It is time to realize that some of your tires could be wearing thin and may need to be replaced. No one is going to do this for you. Not your broker or your financial planner. You are the driver and a successful conclusion to this journey is completely up to you.
Copyright 2004 Albert W. Thomas All rights reserved. Author of "If It Doesn't Go Up, Don't Buy It!" www.mutualfundmagic.com comments to firstname.lastname@example.org