Last week was a terrifying week for Wall Street; with the Asian markets tumbling and the Dow Jones down almost 600 points yesterday, this could be a crazy ride. The biggest 500 American stocks have dropped nearly 10 percent in the past five days. The Chinese Shanghai Stock Exchange plummeted over 12 percent. It's been years since we've seen this kind of market fear, but don't worry (okay, worry a little)--Warren Buffett is here to the rescue. One of the world's wealthiest men has seen his fair share of market swings, and he knows how to handle them. Even better, he's brimming with tips and advice that investors of all levels can utilize. Whether you're a well-seasoned investor on the brink of retirement, a newbie with your very first money market account, or somewhere in between, follow Buffet's sage advice to get you through this market storm:
1. View stocks as gambling: "I never attempt to make money on the stock market. I buy on the assumption that they could close the market the next day and not reopen it for five years." This might be a little too late for some investors, but right now is the best time to switch your investment tactics. Just like gambling, don't bet (on the stock market) what you can't lose.
2. Wealth doesn't equate to marketing knowledge: "Wall Street is the only place that people ride to in a Rolls-Royce to get advice from those who take the subway." Granted, if you take Buffet's advice, you're getting tips from someone who could ride in a Rolls Royce. Still, wealth doesn't necessarily equate to how well you know the market (and by far, most truly wealthy people don't splurge on items like overpriced cars). If you want market advice, take a look at the person's history and portfolio, not their bling.
3. On greed and fear: "We simply attempt to be fearful when others are greedy and to be greedy only when others are fearful." One of the simplest rules of investing is to buy low and sell high--so why is that so difficult? Fear. When the market starts to crash or look a bit shaky, people start to panic. And panicked people do stupid things. Don't act rashly just yet.
4. The Dow vs. Everything Else: "In the 20th century, the United States endured two world wars and other traumatic and expensive military conflicts; the Depression; a dozen or so recessions and financial panics; oil shocks; a flu epidemic; and the resignation of a disgraced president. Yet the Dow rose from 66 to 11,497." The economy and just about everything else doesn't have as much to do with the Dow as people think. Don't assume the two are intertwined bed buddies at every turn. The economy can be used as one of many tools to predict market trends, but it's not a crystal ball.
5. Derivative as deadly weapons: "Derivatives are financial weapons of mass destruction." In other words, use them (or not!) wisely. Find a financial consultant who works with your aversion (or attraction) to risk and who can guide you without bullying you.
6. Knowing when to jump ship: "Should you find yourself in a chronically leaking boat, energy devoted to changing vessels is likely to be more productive than energy devoted to patching leaks." You don't want to sell solely out of fear, but you don't want to hold stubbornly on to a losing investment, either. Timing is everything. There are winners and losers with every market crash, and it's largely up to you which team you're on. Choose wisely, and let those--like Buffet--who've been there and done that help you out.