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Investing and The Fear Curve

A green roller coaster dips down and becomes a red rollercoaster. The title reads Investing and The Fear Curve

In the unpredictable world of investing, the “fear curve” is an all-too-familiar emotional roller coaster that leads many investors to make decisions that ultimately harm their financial health. This curve often causes people to buy high and sell low, missing out on significant opportunities. Ironically, the best times to buy often arise when ideas are new or unpopular, especially during market panic. It's during these uncomfortable times that the most rewarding investment opportunities can appear. Let’s explore a few suggestions to help you make rational decisions and steer clear of emotional investing.

About The Curve

The fear curve in investing starts when investors feel optimistic and excited as markets rise or when they first invest, hoping for high returns. However, as the market shows signs of volatility or begins to drop, anxiety sets in, often turning into denial as investors hope the downturn is temporary. This anxiety can escalate to fear and even desperation, leading to rash decisions like panic selling if the market continues to fall.

After selling during a downturn, investors might feel extremely discouraged, especially if they incur significant losses. But as the market stabilizes or begins to recover, hope and relief set in, encouraging them to start investing again, often more cautiously. As the market improves, as it eventually does, optimism returns. Of course, experiencing these dramatic ups and downs based on the markets is not a good way to live one’s life as an investor. That’s why it’s so important to learn how to better manage one’s reactions to market volatility.

Tune Out Short-term Forecasts

The market’s short-term movements are largely unpredictable. Despite the never-ending forecasts, even experts often miss the mark. For the majority of investors, especially those not engaged in day trading—which we never recommend—daily market volatility should be a non-issue. Focus instead on the broader economic and financial landscape and keep your long-term vision glasses on. Much of the daily noise from financial news is intended to grab and keep viewers, so highly charged emotional language is often the cause of concern, or even panic. Tuning out and holding onto your stock investments can often mean locking in your longer-term gains.

This emphasis on the long-term is particularly crucial for those experiencing tighter cash flows. Without sufficient liquidity, investors may feel pressured to sell assets prematurely during market downturns—a reaction often regretted later. Adequate cash reserves enable you to weather the storm without having to liquidate investments on short notice. This strategic cash management acts as a buffer, reducing the urge to make impulsive decisions based on short-term market movements. It also helps you maintain your focus on long-term investment objectives like investment planning.

Have a Plan

Protecting your current assets is a prerequisite for wealth generation. A sound risk-management strategy involves careful position-sizing, which limits the size of any single investment within your portfolio. A good rule of thumb is to ensure that a loss on any investment does not exceed 2.5% to 5% of your total portfolio value. This approach helps mitigate panic selling during downturns, allowing you to maintain composure and confidence in your investment strategy.

Finding and committing to an organized financial planning process is equally crucial. Establishing a clear, structured approach to managing your investments ensures consistency and effectiveness in achieving your financial goals. By sticking to a well-defined plan, you can avoid the common pitfalls of reactive decision-making driven by market noise or emotions. This disciplined approach not only preserves your wealth in challenging times but also positions you for optimal growth when market conditions improve.

The Takeaway

Overcoming the fear curve is not about eliminating emotions but managing them effectively. It’s about making informed, rational investment decisions instead of being overly afraid of short-term losses. In the long run, discipline and patience are virtues that often lead to prosperity—or at least holding onto it. Your financial advisor should help you minimize your fear curve by guiding you with a planning process that’s built for the long term.


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Disclosure: This information is for educational and informative purposes and shall not be considered a specific recommendation. Readers are advised to speak with their advisor at JL Bainbridge to determine their specific recommendations that meet their investment objectives and to review their portfolios. The material being provided is thought to be accurate. However, the information is compiled from multiple resources and may become outdated or otherwise rendered incorrect by new research or corrections without notice. J.L. Bainbridge & Co., Inc., is not a broker dealer and does not offer tax or legal advice. Please consult your tax or legal advisor for assistance regarding your individual situation. It should neither be assumed that future results will be as profitable or that a loss could not be incurred. For more information related to our firm, please see our disclosure brochures at and

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