Knowing when to pull out of the stock market can be tricky, but knowing how to can be even more important. Getting out of the market the right way can make a big difference in how much money you end up with. Just keep these tips in mind when the time comes to sell.
Place sell orders for all of your stocks and stock mutual funds. Sell your shares at market to get the fastest execution and current market price. If the markets are tanking on the day when you do this, place your orders immediately. If the market is rising that day, you might be wise to wait a little while to see if you can get a slightly higher price.
Contact your variable annuity or variable life insurance carrier and tell them to move all of your money out of any sub-accounts that invest in stocks. Move the money either into the fixed account, the money market fund or other sub-accounts that invest in bonds, real estate or other asset classes.
Place limit orders on your stock sales if you are not in an urgent hurry to get out of the market. If the stock has been vacillating in a price range for a while, place a limit order near the high end of the price range and wait for the stock price to rise to that level. This strategy can make a big difference in how much you end up with, particularly if you have a large number of shares to sell.
Wait until you have held your stocks for at least one year before selling if you are near that threshold already and aren't in a desperate hurry to sell. This is wise if your stocks have appreciated substantially, because you will pay a lower rate of tax on your gains if you have held your stocks for at least a year to the day before selling them.
Wait at least until the market rebounds somewhat if you are selling because the market dropped severely in a single day. The stock market is almost certain to take a dead cat bounce back up at some point, and waiting for this to happen can be a wise choice in many cases.
Be sure that you aren't acting purely on emotion when you decide to sell. Selling on emotion usually proves to be the wrong thing to do in the long run.