Your portfolio represents your future, so it’s only natural to want to monitor how your investments are doing. How often you need to check largely depends on the type of investor you are. Active investors who constantly buy and sell individual stocks will monitor performance frequently, perhaps daily. But individuals with well-diversified managed portfolios investing for the long term should have less need to check their portfolios constantly.
For many long-term investors, checking every three months is fine. Others may prefer checking at least once a month. It’s very much an individual decision. Younger investors saving for retirement might only check every six months or less often.
End unnecessary worry
There’s one type of investor who needs to be careful – the long-term investor who checks performance weekly or several times a week and is prone to worry. When you constantly monitor your portfolio, you’ll often witness fluctuations in value from one day to the next. That’s the nature of the markets. Over the long term, an investment may trend upwards, but in the short term its path may be marked by a series of ups and downs. The more frequently you check your portfolio, the more likely you are to see these swings in value – and the dips can cause anxiety.
Beware of emotional investing
If you act on your anxiety, it can be harmful to your portfolio. Your fear of the dips can lead you to redeem — therefore selling low. On the other hand, if you witness your portfolio trending upwards, you might be enticed to jump into an already-heated market — therefore buying high.
These temptations are natural, but the important thing is not to give in to them, as trying to catch a quick short-term gain or avoid a short-term dip may end up detracting from long-term performance.
Self-discipline is key
When checking your portfolio, it’s best to exercise self-discipline and stick to a monthly or quarterly schedule. That distance can help you view the performance of your portfolio more rationally. You’ll lose the stress over short-term noise, and you can focus on reaching long-term objectives.