Investing During a Crash – One Month Later & Survival Tips

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So what is it like investing during a crash? Well, well… hmmm… where to begin.

It’s been a bit over a month since my past post on how I’m investing in this COVID-19 situation and as things has developed significantly since then, I thought I’d give you guys an update!

Hey, more reading materials during this time can’t be bad right?

Anyway, remember my Gain/Loss chart from that post? It looked pretty bad then.

Last month's chart of the gain over time to show how it's like investing during a crash
That looked pretty bad a month ago.

The market drop had wiped out more than half of my gains from 2019 in just a couple days. Kinda insane, right? Well, now that we’re a month after that, how does that look like now?

Glad you ask! Let’s take a look:

Chart of absolute gain over time. What your portfolio might look like if you're investing during a crash.
That’s the longest and straightest line I’ve seen on this chart.

Hmmm… definitely not looking so hot.

If you’re calculating, you’re not mistaken. The chart basically shows my portfolio losing – at one point – more than S$100,000 in within the last 30 days. Shocking!

Here’s what the percentage return looks like:

Chart of percentage gain over time to show how it's like investing during a crash
From almost 30% gain to more than -10% loss in about a month!

So those of you who are looking at all the red in your portfolio, don’t worry you’re not alone!

(If you are curious about how I track my portfolio performance, you can check out my portfolio tracking spreadsheet template.)

Disclaimer: The contents of this blog are my own opinions and does not constitute financial advice.

But I’m still not worried and will continue buying

I would be lying if this doesn’t make me a bit nervous (I am still human after all.) And no, I don’t have enough money such I can shrug off losing S$100,000 – I wish!

However, remember, we’re in this for the long haul and it’s only a loss if we sell. This is but a blip in the market and is a great time to add to our positions if we have a long investment horizon. What I said in my previous post still remains true.

At this point, I have also deployed the annual bonus that I’ve recently received into the market as well. I’ve purchased IWDA at prices much closer to the prices I paid more than 3 years ago – much lower than my current average price. Everything is on sale.

Does that mean I believe that this is the bottom?

No, I don’t think so, but who knows?

I do believe that this is likely just the beginning. The majority of the advanced countries in the west, especially America, are completely unprepared for this crisis. The death toll will continue to rise – likely accelerating in the next coming weeks – and people will continue to be asked to stay home.

All of this is not going to be great for the global economy. So no, I don’t think we’ve hit bottom and it likely won’t for a while yet. However, there’s no way to tell how low it will go and when it will turn around. Because…

The world is not static. COVID-19 is now world’s enemy number 1.

Governments around the world also knows this and are racing to cushion this blow any way they can. The U.S. just passed a $2 Trillion Dollars relief package aimed at helping consumers and businesses hit by this downturn.

Biomedical labs from around the world are working around the clock to develop better tests and search for a vaccine.

There’s no way to really predict when this crisis will end but given that the attention of the world is now focused on stopping this dead in its tracks, I know it will end eventually. Then when it does, those who have been patient and has been consistently investing into the market, will reap the rewards when the market inevitably make its march back up.

So although I’ve invested my funds so far, I will continue to top up on my position whenever I have enough. I count myself extremely, extremely lucky… because I still have a healthy emergency fund and my income will likely not be impacted by this crisis. Not everybody can say the same.

So what’s my advice for those of you who are feeling a bit nervous?

Here’s my list of priorities that we should follow in this crisis to ensure that we come out of this crisis better off.

Priority #1: Prioritise health and safety

It doesn’t matter how much money you have if you’re dead. So stay safe, stay healthy, keep a safe distance from others outside your house at this time. It will not only help keep you and your loved ones safe, but it will also help prevent further spreads in the community.

Priority #2: Stay employed and earning income at all costs

You can’t eat or invest without money. No matter what you do, ensure that your income stream is secure. This will be more difficult for some as this crisis impacts those in the F&B and Hospitality industry especially hard. However, as the Singapore government just approved a S$48 Billion COVID-19 Resilience Package to help businesses keep people employed, hopefully more of you are able to keep your job than not.

If you are able to remain employed and earning income (which will allow you to continue investing) in this crisis, you will come out ahead.

Priority #3: Cut down on non-essential spending

As this crisis will bring more economic uncertainty, you’d do well to look at your existing expenses to see where you can cut down in order to give you a wider safety margin. I’m not saying you’ll need to cut out all fun spending, but you know your own risk factor during a crisis like this, so act appropriately.

Lowering your expenses will also help you weather the storm better and help allow you to make your emergency fund last longer if shit does really hit the fan. Which brings me to…

Priority #4: Maintain your emergency funds

Before you invest any of your savings, make sure you have an adequate emergency fund. In this uncertain time, the emergency fund is more important than ever. It will provide you with a safety net if you get laid off or become too ill to work, both a lot more likely during this crisis.

Depending on the risk that you face, it may make sense to slowly increase your emergency fund from the standard 6 months to a much more conservative 12 months worth of expenses to ensure you are prepared for the worst.

This will also ensure that you have the holding power required to weather this storm and are not forced to sell your investments to make ends meet during a time when stocks are low.

Priority #5: Understand the assistance that you may be eligible for

Given that the Singapore government is working to ensure that those who are financially hardest hit by this crisis is taken cared of – if you’re in this group, you owe it to yourself find out what’s available for you.

If you get fired or can no longer earn an income due to this crisis, there may be assistance available for you. So do check up on that and educate yourself and get prepared. You can find out more in this CNA article on unemployment benefits of the COVID-19 budget here.

Priority #6: Whatever you do, do not sell

Let me repeat. If you can help it. DO. NOT. SELL. PERIOD. Investing during a crash can be scary – as my own portfolio result has shown.

However, the worst thing you can do in a stock market crash like this is to make your paper loss into a real one.

As I keep say, nobody knows when the market will recover. It could be in a year from now or it could be a month from now.

Take a look at the same chart I had at the top of this post:

Chart of absolute gain over time. Be prepared for this when investing during a crash.
Take a look at that sharp point at the bottom.

On 23rd of March, I was sitting on roughly -S$37,000 – down from a high of +S$75,000 on the 20th of February.

Say I panicked and decided that enough was enough! The market will continue to go down, I’m sure of it! I better get out now and cut my losses!

If I sell then, I would lock in my S$37,000 in loss…

However, over the next 3 days after that, the market rallied extremely sharply until I was sitting at just $0 in loss. Basically breakeven. What would my state of mind be?

If I was an emotional investor, most likely:

“SH*T!!! I sold right at the bottom! The U.S. stimulus and all the government intervention finally worked! I better get in before it shoots up even more and I miss the rise!”

Then I would have bought it higher than when I sold… as the market begin to come back down again. If I sell, any market movement up will cause me to stress about “Is it the bottom THIS time?” and “What if I will miss the bottom and buy in too late?”

It will become a never-ending cycle of panic buying and selling. Only losers play this game.

Stay invested, save yourself from anxiety and sleepless nights.

Priority #7: Continue to buy into the market when you have excess funds

Although I’m risking sounding like a broken record, I’ll say it again: Nobody can predict how the market will move in the short term.

A lot of factors influence the movement of the market and the market can always remain irrational much longer than you can stay solvent. So don’t try to outguess it.

What we do know though is that:

  1. The market is currently as cheap as it was about 3 years ago right now.
  2. The market will go up in the long term and will eventually outpace the current price.

So if you buy now and continue buying with funds that you can afford to keep invested over 10-30 years, you are guaranteed to come out ahead

Therefore, at the moment everything is on sale. Yes maybe it will be on a deeper sale in a few months. But if you’re still working and investing your income over time, the difference that a few months will make will be insignificant in the long term. What’s important is to be invested and continue adding to your investments.

Sitting out and never jumping in is the biggest risk you can take. If you’re still nervous, you can read the story about the world’s worst market timer again.

There you have it

That’s how my current portfolio is doing amidst all of this (getting its butt kicked) but I’m not worried.

I hope that my list of priorities will help you work out what you should be focusing on during this crisis. If you follow the priorities outlined above, I’m confident that you’ll come out way ahead while investing in a crash like this one or the one after this.

Let me know if you have any questions or feedback in the comments section down below or follow me on twitter here @firepathlion.

Until next time!


5 thoughts on “Investing During a Crash – One Month Later & Survival Tips”

  1. How would you recommend investing during this period? I am looking to invest my first $10k. I understand that you mentioned lump sum performs better compared to DCA, but does that also apply during a recession such as the one we are experiencing right now?

    Would love to hear your thoughts on this!

    • Hey Ben! Yes this is a debate I’ve been having with myself recently. My take is that in the long term S$10,000 isn’t going make up a large part of your portfolio, investing now or 30% lower, for this amount won’t make too big of a difference as long as you have it invested. However, as I mentioned, the market is definitely not at the bottom yet so expect high volatility, big jumps up and down in the near future – the best approach is to take the emotion out of it.

      You can invest it all at once now, or spread it out over 3-4 months to ensure you average down as the market drops is fine. You’ll be buying more as you earn more income and this amount won’t be a large contributor to your overall wealth 10 years down the line. Ultimately, whichever strategy that helps you sleep better at night is going to be the best one. Remember, once you get in, you’re in for the long haul, don’t second guess and don’t sell.

      • Hi FPL

        I’m new to investing and the FIRE movement, so i’ve been following your posts

        In the case of investing in the UK markets, isnt it more cost efficient to invest an amount of say more than $10,000 instead of DCA?

        • Hi Shannon! Thank you for reading! Both can be true! You are right that investing internationally, due to higher fees, it’s often better to wait until you have a large enough amount in order to minimise the commission charges (which means an amount larger than S$8,000 usually). However, this also means you are waiting a couple months each time before you invest, and if you do it on a regular schedule, you are also doing DCA.

          For example, you can only invest S$8,000 every 6 months, so every 6 months, you buy into the market at S$8,000 no matter what price the market is at, you are essentially forcing yourself to do DCA over a long period.

          Of course if you suddenly find yourself with S$50,000 to invest, I’d say you should just put all of it into the market as soon as possible rather than to split it up – as it’s been shown that Lump Sum beats DCA 2/3 of the time over the long term.

          In my case, I am investing as much as I can, as soon as I can and that means I am DCA-ing, but that doesn’t mean I’m investing monthly – it could be every 3-4 months – as long as it’s regular.

          Hope that makes sense!


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