An SMI member recently asked, “What is Austin’s/Mark’s/Matt’s greatest market worry?” That things will keep getting worse in the banking sector? That the U.S. economy will tip into a recession? That high inflation will persist?
I would answer those questions with no, no and, you guessed it, no. I honestly don’t worry about the market. Oh, it doesn’t feel good when the market wobbles. But it does no good to worry about it.
To be sure, you don’t have to look far to find something that seems worthy of our worry. The thing is, there’s always something to worry about — always has been, always will be.
Just take a look at this Wall of Worry chart.
Click image to enlarge
Clearly, the world regularly gives us plenty to worry about. Each decade has been marked by a distinct danger, or two or three — wars and rumors of wars, natural disasters, inflation, and more.
The price of admission
Of course, the market doesn’t wear blinders and it doesn’t always go up. There are brutal downturns, periods of stagnant returns, and along the way plenty of crazy, confusing, contradictory financial headlines that make you wonder whether this time really is different. Still, I don’t worry.
I don’t worry because I’m an investor, not a trader.
I don’t worry because I don’t expect a smooth ride all the time.
I don’t worry because I still find comfort in (and even practice!) the timeless investment principles that so many people seem intent on casting aside — you know, those quaint, outdated principles such as diversification and taking a long-term view.
I don’t worry because, at the risk of sounding highly biased, I happen to believe in the overall investment approach and specific investment strategies used by the company I uprooted my family to join. I’m especially fond of the combined strategy approach we highlighted in an April 2018 cover article (Higher Returns With Less Risk, Re-Examined).
That’s not to say I enjoy a financially worry-free life. When it comes to my family’s well-being, I have what could be described as either an overactive worry gene or a strong sense of responsibility. With three kids now in middle school, high school, and college, I do sometimes worry about what would happen to my family if I were called home earlier than I’d prefer.
Building on the rock
But I’ve also taken steps that have lessened those worries. We have adequate life insurance protection that will be in force until our youngest is in her mid-20s. Going through the Set Your House In Order study from Compass–Finances God’s Way helped tremendously. It also helps that I’m blessed with a wife of great faith and many talents who I know would be able to make her way just fine without me.
The question at the beginning of this article was really about the market. Honestly, I don’t worry about it. I watch it, study it, think about it, write about it and sometimes wish that occasional brutal downturns didn’t come with the territory, but I don’t worry about it.
Instead, I ploddingly follow the counsel that we give here at Sound Mind Investing. And most importantly, I keep my faith firmly rooted in God. In perhaps the most famous passage on worry, God reminds us of His promises to provide for those who put Him first in their lives.
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?
Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?
Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.
If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you — you of little faith?
So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” – Matthew 6:25-34
Just last night I was with a group of friends to study God’s Word together. We were in the Gospel of John and read these words from Jesus: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me” (John 14:1). That’s such a vivid depiction of our heavenly Father’s heart toward us — “Do not let your hearts be troubled.”
And this morning I was reminded that in the first temptation the devil put before Jesus he tried to cast doubt on His identity: “If you are the Son of God…” (Matthew 4:3). Of course, Jesus knew who He was, and we would do well to remember who we are as well: appointed stewards over God’s resources, wise builders, children of the living God who “has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7).
No matter what the market throws at us, we can rest in those unchanging Truths.
What have you found helpful in navigating times of heightened market volatility?