Ask The Experts: Money Matters

By Mike Miles

Timing the market

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Q. As precaution for what I thought was going to be a market decline, in December, I moved $350,000 out of my Thrift Savings Plan accounts from the C, S, and I fund (60 percent, 20 percent, 20 percent) to the G Fund. The end of the year came and went with no crash. The government had several “doomsday” dates that kept me guessing on market reactions. All have come and gone and the market is still going strong.

I didn’t change my paycheck allocations, so I’ve continued to put money into the above funds in the percentages shown, so at least those funds are dollar cost averaging.

I don’t want to “buy high,” so what do I do? Keep the bulk of my funds in G until the market dips enough for me to get back in? Or take my spanking (I’ve “lost” $50,000 during this time) and get back in now?

A. You’ve just provided a textbook example of the problem with timing the market. If you’d studied the pros and cons of what you were doing before you did it, you would have known better. On one hand, the market could keep right on going without you, and the odds are that it will be higher tomorrow than it is today. On the other hand, if you didn’t like the price of the market in December, I can’t imagine why you would like it any better today. Selling low and buying high certainly isn’t a winning formula.

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