RACHEL LACEY: "I've lost thousands of pounds — now it's time to practise what I preach"

6 May 2020

Just because there are fluctuations in the stock market you should not panic-sell

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Over the past few weeks, I have lost literally thousands of pounds. It wasn’t a scam, a bad loan to an unreliable friend or a disastrous trip to the bookies. Like millions of others in the UK, I just had money invested in stocks and shares.

I am not a seasoned investor or an active trader by any stretch, but over the past 15 years I have been drip-feeding money into the stock market.

It started with a Stocks and Shares Isa just before I got married. Then we started squirrelling a bit of money away every month, not with any specific goal in mind other than our own financial security.

After the kids came along, we opened Junior Isas for them too — not paying in much, just enough to harness the powers of compounding returns and give them a bit of a financial leg-up when they turn 18. Now, I also run a Sipp from the same investment platform.

Totted up it is not a huge fortune, but it is our fortune. Our family’s nest egg.

Quite how large or small this fortune actually is now I couldn’t say. Not because I don’t want to share such intimate information with Moneywise readers but because I can’t. I can’t divulge it because I’ve not logged on to the platform since markets started to bomb in February.

Some would say as a financial journalist that I should, but I just know it will be a horror show. What with my husband and I trying to work from home, provide some semblance of an education for our kids while school is out and keep an eye out for our parents, we have got enough to deal with, without the brutality of seeing our account balance in black and white.

If I saw it, I know it would stress me out. It would feel a whole lot more real.

You could say I am burying my head in the sand. Maybe I am? But even if I did log on to face the music what would it achieve? Those investments are for the long term and I am a buy-and-hold investor, so it is time for me to practise what I preach. I won’t panic and I won’t sell the investments I’ve put my faith in.

If I’d cashed in my investments all I would have done was crystallise my losses — and miss out on the big bounce, which saw the FTSE 100 rise by more than 9% one day last month, making it its best day since the financial crisis in 2008.

I am also reminding myself that as the cost of shares has fallen, future contributions will be able to buy more shares, putting me in a better position when the markets do eventually recover.

All I can do is keep calm and carry on.