Yikes, yikes, yikes, yikes, yikes — a perfectly reasonable and legitimate reaction to whatever the stock market is doing right now. If you've just started investing, it might feel like you got in at the wrong time and you just keep making mistakes. Still, while Wall Street is pretty topsy-turvy these days, be careful about what's driving your instincts. Your investing app may be training you to overreact.
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If you rely on apps like Acorn, Robinhood, or Stash to get started in the stock market, you may have experienced some shocks looking at your updates over the past week or so. Your lizard brain might be short-circuiting a little, watching your totals bounce all over the place. With up-to-the-minute displays, you may even get your courage up and make a play for a quick profit. That may not be the best plan, though.
"I've seen it firsthand," wealth adviser Kent Schmidgall told MarketWatch. "Undisciplined investors are far more likely to attempt to time the markets during times of volatility when using an investment app, then if they used a traditional service."
Investment apps can make the whole process frictionless, perhaps too much so. It's easy to get faster and looser about investing decisions when the mechanisms are all in the palm of your hand. But first-time investors especially need to take a moment and learn to play the long game. Thankfully, some of these apps are building in warning screens to help new users make sense of the data they're seeing. The apps also offer personal finance and investment education, whether as part of the package or as additional features.
Take advantage of any chance to learn more about the stock market's inner workings, and especially its overarching patterns. You'll be able to roll with the rollercoaster much better — and maybe even get to enjoy the ride.