Markets Are Down. Should I Stop Investing?

Our editor-in-chief makes cents of investing when the markets are tanking

An illustration shows downward sloping arrows set over a sheet of graph paper and several U.S. coins, including nickels, dimes, and quarters.

The Balance / Alice Morgan

Dear Kristin,

I am a single, 55 year-old female, and I am maxing out my 401(k), including catch up funds. I am working 60-70 hours a week to do so, only to watch my portfolio tanking. Should I back off for a while until the economy recovers? Would not mind pulling back on hours, as it seems all the overtime is for nothing. I plan to work until at least 65.



Dear Karen,

I feel your pain. In fact, I’m sure anyone out there reading this is feeling it. Markets are down over 14% so far this year and with fears of a recession looming, it’s probably going to get worse before it gets better. But does that mean you should invest less? No.

Here’s why. You say you have 10 more years to go before you plan to retire. Which means that even as you suffer losses now, you have plenty of time to not only make them up, but to actually benefit greatly from future gains.

There’s a saying in investing: The stock market is the only market where everything goes on sale—and the customers run out of the store. This isn’t the time to take your foot off the gas, but instead, a strategy of investing even more is going to generate even more wealth for you once the markets rebound.

Historically, bear markets last about a year, and you can expect losses of about 36% during that period. But bull market runs, which follow bear markets, last just under 4 years, and will see total gains of around 112%.

With share prices depressed, and your decision to invest even more funds, you’ll be able to snap up more shares of companies that could garner you big gains. Given that we might be headed towards a recession, you could consider that you’ll have even more time to snap up stocks for “cheap.” Before too long, you’ll start to see the return on the efforts that you’re making now. 

Keep in mind that this isn’t the first bear market your portfolio has seen, and it probably won’t be the last. But that doesn’t mean you need to just suffer as your investment portfolio takes a beating. There are ways to mitigate some of the losses. Take a look at your accounts. Are you more heavily invested in one sector or company than others? For example, tech stocks have seen huge losses as higher interest rates impact them more than other stocks. If you’re only invested in this sector, you likely are getting hurt more than necessary.

So consider diversifying your portfolio by looking at index funds or exchange-traded funds (ETFs) to reduce your risk. And with a recession looming, now is a good time to consider “defensive sectors” that will perform well even when the economy isn’t, like consumer staples and utilities.

If you do this, your overall portfolio will be better able to handle losses. And in a few years when the markets are surging, you’ll probably be glad you didn’t pull back from investing.

Good luck!


If you have questions about money, Kristin is here to help. Submit an anonymous question and she may answer it in a future column.

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The Balance uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. S&P Dow Jones. “S&P 500.”

  2. Hartford Funds. “10 Things You Should Know About Bear Markets.”

  3. CenterPoint Securities. “The Ultimate Guide to Bull Markets.”

  4. Fidelity. “Stocks That Offer Shelter in a Storm.”

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