Fear and Finances

How should we as believers navigate the stock market in times like these?

By Lorraine Thomas

Many of you are asking me what is going on with the stock market? Is this the end of the world? Will I lose all my money? Will I ever be able to retire or send my kids to college? So much of the news around us can instill fear, but hold on! Put your hands together in prayer, and just breathe. Breathe in. Breathe out. Do it again.

I know you may be scared. Many people are scared right now because they don’t fully understand what is happening in the markets and how this will affect them long term. They are getting all kinds of advice with some being good and reasonable and other advice not so reasonable or pertinent to their situation.

As we talk about your finances and the market, it is important to remember a few truths from Scripture in regard to fear.

For GOD did not give us a spirit of timidity (of cowardice, of craven and cringing and fawning fear), but (He has given us a spirit) of power and of love and of calm, and well-balanced mind and discipline and self control.  — 2 Timothy 1:7

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change and though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea; though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains quake at its swelling pride. Selah. The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our stronghold.  Selah.  — Psalm 56:1-3, 7

In 2 Timothy 1, we see that God does not intend for us to live in fear of the world around us, including the stock market fluctuation, but has given us a spirit of power, love, and a sound mind. From Psalms 56, we remember that God is our refuge and will provide in times of trouble. Fear, when we don’t understand the situation, is understandable, but we don’t have to stay there because we have God’s Spirit as a refuge in our lives.       

Most of us have our retirement plans and other money we live on in the stock market. That is a very reasonable and important place to invest for our future. The stock market is composed of thousands and thousands of different stocks and investment options. Your money may be in just a few of them. 

You need to pay attention to what is in your accounts and why you have it in these accounts. Think about what your intended goal is in investing money, and consider if it is working for you. There are different ways to invest in order to cover your needs both now and in the future. Several strategy options are:

Growth: I want my money to make money, and I am willing to watch it go up and down over time. I understand and accept the risk. I accept the roller coaster ups and downs and expect them.  

Balance: I want my money to make money but also want some balance in case the market goes up and down. I won’t make as much money, but I also will not have to watch the market go up and down. Roller coasters make me nervous, but a bit of ups and downs are OK.  

Conservative: I want my money to make money, but I also want to make sure that most of my account balance is conservative and does not move too much. I understand my account balance may not increase that much. I don’t even like to watch roller coasters but enjoy the idea of being in the park.  

No Risk: I want my money to sit and hardly make any money, and I am happy just to watch the account balance stay the same. I am OK with little or no growth and can accept that I need to save more than someone in the Growth or Balance categories to grow my account.

Some perspective might be helpful for you:

What is happening to the stock market right now is called “a correction.” The reason corrections are important is because they mean something was or has been out of whack or out of balance.  

In my lifetime, as I have worked as a stock broker, I have experienced this dramatic set of circumstances eight times and each time has been a roller coaster of emotion and fear that changed the lives of many. The corrections have not been a bad thing. In fact, they were expected. It is a normal part of being an investor and one that you can be trained to expect and to cope with in order to benefit from the investing.

Remember: Your life as an investor changes. You may start in growth and move to balance and then to conservative or the other way around! As you gain confidence and trust the process, then you might move up to a balanced model from the conservative model, and this may be exactly right for you.

Remember: You may be saving and investing for the next 10, 20, 30 or more years ahead of you. Invest appropriately for the type of person you are and how long until you need to spend the money you’re investing. This will help you determine the appropriate risks.

Remember: Once you are within reach of the date that you are going to start using the money, you have to acknowledge that you are not going to use all your money all on one day. You are going to take your money out a bit at a time to supplement other sources of income like Social Security. It is even a good idea to keep some of your money in the market to keep on investing as you may be living on it for another 20 years or more.  

Remember: There are trusted individuals out there to help you along the way and many who are within the church community already. They can help guide you along the way.  

Remember: You can start planning now for the next time this happens. It will happen again, and you will recognize the feelings and emotions and will know how to better deal with them.

And last but not least, remember: No matter what happens, God is in control. He is our provider, and if you trust in Him, He can keep your mind in perfect peace during these uncertain times (Isaiah 26:3).

Lorraine M. Thomas AFC, CLU, ChFC can be reached at lorraine@thomasfinancialstrategies.com or via phone at 541.431.3497. Find her online at thomasfinancialstrategies.com.

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