As the stock market extends its stomach-churning twists and turns, many investors have opted to cut their losses by pulling out. Investors yanked $46 billion from equity funds in September, the largest monthly total in more than six years, according to California-based investment research firm TrimTabs.
That's the wrong strategy, according to investment pros like Warren Buffett. In a recent New York Times op-ed piece, Buffett wrote that the beaten-down stock market offers a golden buying opportunity for investors. "A simple rule dictates my buying," he said. "Be fearful when others are greedy, and be greedy when others are fearful."
Buffett and other financial experts offer a litany of good reasons the average investor should take advantage of the down market. There are plenty of companies out there with solid financials and good long-term prospects that are likely to rebound in a big way when the market recovers. What's more, quitting on the stock market now means you're much more likely to miss out on any gains from that recovery.
Indeed, it's a lot easier to be greedy in a depressed market if, like Buffett, you've got billions in the bank. But there are still a number of ways the average investor can take advantage of the scores of deep-discount stocks littering the equity markets.For starters, take a close look your investment portfolio, from 401(k)s to taxable accounts. Chances are, the big swings in the stock market -- the S&P 500 has fallen about a third this year -- have thrown your asset allocation out of whack. "For people who have cash right now, it's a good time to look at your asset allocation and see where you are," says Cheryl Krueger, a financial planner in Schaumburg, Ill.